RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. — Both teams had to play on a soggy field, but the difference was Prairie du Chien High School’s Tyler Smock.

Smock, a standout running back, led the Blackhawks to a 35-6 win over Richland Center Friday in a game played in heavy rain. With the win, Prairie du Chien (7-1, 3-1 SWC) qualified for the WIAA playoffs, something it was on the outside looking in last season.

Smock rushed 15 times for 168 yards and two touchdowns, pushing his season total to 1,107 yards on 126 carries. Smock, who has scored 13 touchdowns, is averaging 138.4 yards per game.

“Tyler ran hard,” Prairie du Chien coach Jason Thiry said. “He took a while to get his footing on the wet field, but both teams had to play on it. He’s a shiftier-type runner. The rain didn’t slow him down.

“We wanted to get on them early with the weather the way it was,”

Smock did just that. The junior took the ball 41 yards for a touchdown, his longest run of the night, just 90 seconds into the game. A 2-point conversion run by Traeton Saint gave the Blackhawks a quick 8-0 lead.

Cory Check followed with a 24-yard run eight minutes later, and the extra point kick put Prairie du Chien on top 15-0.

The second quarter was all Gavin Gillitzer. The Blackhawks’ quarterback threw an 11-yard touchdown strike to Drake Coleman before scoring on a 48-yard run, putting Prairie du Chien up 28-0 at halftime.

“He’s having a great year,” Thiry said of Gillitzer. “He’s the leader of our huddle.”

Smock’s second TD of the night came in the third quarter on a 20-yard run, and that wrapped up the scoring for the Blackhawks.

The Prairie du Chien defense did its part, too, as it held Richland Center (0-8, 0-4) to 218 total yards.

“The key was our stingy defense,” Thiry said. “We kept them in front of us. After that we established that we were going to run downhill on them. Our defense played great tonight. Our motto is team first. I saw that a lot tonight. We’re building more and more depth each week.”

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