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Moving on to round 2

Mitchell Athey of Northwood-Kensett hits Kee’s Marquis Phillips hard enough to jar both of their helmets loose in front of the Vikings sideline. Athey had 10 tackles for the Vikings and Northwood-Kensett won 36-22. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Mitchell Athey of Northwood-Kensett hits Kee’s Marquis Phillips hard enough to jar both of their helmets loose in front of the Vikings sideline. Athey had 10 tackles for the Vikings and Northwood-Kensett won 36-22. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

LANSING, Iowa — The Northwood-Kensett football team walked out of the fog and smoke from a bonfire at Kee High School’s football field as the victor on Wednesday.

Brandon Brockman, right, carries the ball, while Mitchell Athey is the lead blocker on a run to the perimeter Wednesday at Kee during the first round of the Class 8-Man state playoffs. Fog and smoke from a bonfire made visibility low. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Brandon Brockman, right, carries the ball, while Mitchell Athey is the lead blocker on a run to the perimeter Wednesday at Kee during the first round of the 8-Man state playoffs. Fog and smoke from a bonfire made visibility low. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

The Vikings utilized multiple weapons in the backfield to overpower Kee 36-22 in the first round of the 8-Man playoffs.

Northwood-Kensett racked up 186 rushing yards among quarterback Josh Einertson and three running backs: Brandon Brockman, Mitchell Athey and Coleby Bratrud. Brockman led Northwood-Kensett with 83 yards on 21 carries. He didn’t find the open field often, but he dragged, stiff-armed and flat-out ran over Kee defenders for two touchdowns.

“Sometimes you’ve just got to drop the shoulder, run into guys and get through holes,” Brockman said. “Our linemen got those holes for us.”

Northwood-Kensett scored on the third play from scrimmage on a 39-yard quarterback keeper by Josh Einertson to take a 6-0 lead. Kee answered with a touchdown of its own and made the two-point conversion to take an 8-6 lead.

However, that was Kee’s only lead of the game. Halfway through the second quarter, Northwood-Kensett recaptured the lead with a touchdown pass from Einertson to Logan Nielsen on fourth-and-18 from one yard outside the red zone. The Vikings added another touchdown after a 48-yard reception by Mitchell Athey set the Vikings up at the 2-yard line. Brandon Brockman barreled into the end zone on the next play to give his team a two-possession advantage (22-8). The two-point conversion was good on a pass to Tom Yezek.

Kee had about 2 minutes left before halftime to cut into its deficit. The Kee Hawks had trouble moving the ball, but penalties allowed them to get inside the Vikings’ 10-yard line. Northwood-Kensett’s defense rose to the occasion and forced a turnover on downs.

“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Northwood-Kensett head coach Dave Capitani said. “Even though we had a few breaks here and there, we didn’t give them big plays and forced them to drive the ball.”

Northwood-Kensett head coach Dave Capitani talks to his players during a timeout Wednesday at Kee during the first round of the Class 8-Man state playoffs. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Northwood-Kensett head coach Dave Capitani talks to his players during a timeout Wednesday at Kee during the first round of the 8-Man state playoffs. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Northwood-Kensett had a 22-8 lead at the half, but a fumble recovery for a touchdown by Kee two minutes into the third quarter made it a one-possession game.

The Vikings responded five minutes later with a 1-yard touchdown run by Coleby Bratrud on fourth and goal.

Kee fought back on the first play of the fourth quarter with a touchdown run and a successful

two-point conversion. The Kee Hawks trailed by six points (28-22) and drove to midfield. However, an interception by Athey on a deep pass stopped Kee’s attack.

“It was kind-of like a punt, but obviously it was a big turning point for us,” Capitani said. “It gave our defense some momentum, and I thought our pass defense did pretty well all night.”

On the Kee Hawks’ final offensive possession, they opted not to punt 4th-and-1 from their own 25 yard line. The quarterback dropped the snap, and fell on the ball for a loss of yardage and loss of possession of the ball. Brockman plowed into the end zone with less than three minutes left in the game, and the two-point conversion was successful on a run by Bratrud.

In the second round of the state playoffs, the Vikings play a familiar foe: Don Bosco. Northwood-Kensett lost its regular season finale 64-50 against Don Bosco at Gilbertville. The Vikings get a chance to avenge the loss at 7 p.m. Monday.

“We were hoping we could pull off this win so we could get another shot at them,” Brockman said. “It was a close game last time, and we hope to beat them this time.”