Calvin Wright was met at the line of scrimmage by multiple defenders as he tried to gain a big first down Friday night at Swanson Field.
The Logan High School senior pushed through those tacklers and a few more that joined the pile for a 4-yard gain and a first down that looked like it might not happen.
A smile broke out across the face of Logan coach Casey Knoble as he marveled at what was happening before him.
His Rangers were putting the finishing touches on a 35-20 victory over Mount Horeb/Barneveld in a WIAA Division 3 state quarterfinal.
Wright’s run kept a late drive alive and allowed the Rangers to take more than 5 additional minutes off the clock and keep the ball away from the pass-happy Vikings.
The hard work it took Wright to gain 4 yards on that third-and-2 carry also epitomized the way the Rangers (10-2) have played all season.
They have fought and clawed for everything they’ve accomplished this season ... even if junior Aric Elmore makes big plays look easy.
“It’s the extra gear that (Wright) has in those situations,” Knoble said. “We always think of our team as having that extra gear, too, and I think we’ve showed that this season.”
No matter what happens in next weekend’s semifinal against Monona Grove (12-0), Logan made history Friday night by becoming the program’s first to qualify for a state semifinal.
Yes, Elmore made big plays with three touchdowns — on runs of 24 and 49 yards and a 59-yard interception return — and Raekwon Tillman led a 334-yard ground game with 146 on 19 carries on Friday.
But Logan’s impressive run defense after Mount Horeb/Barneveld’s opening drive was as good as it gets and made the Vikings (8-4) work hard with their passing game during a rainy and windy night.
Mount Horeb/Barneveld opened the game rushing eight times for 56 yards and scoring a touchdown less than 3 minutes into the game.
The Vikings tried to run the ball 19 times after that first drive, and they lost 32 yards as Logan took complete control of the line of scrimmage.
“We knew their offensive line was going to come out and get on us,” Wright said. “We had to get off blocks and make tackles.
“If you don’t do your job, you get taken out of the game,” he added with a smile. “Our guys like to play, so we started doing our jobs.”
Mount Horeb/Barneveld quarterback Max Meylor gained 22 yards on his first rush and lost 17 the next 13 times he kept the ball.
Logan linebacker Kyle Bakalars stopped Meylor behind the line of scrimmage twice in the first quarter, and Wright sacked him once in each of the last three quarters.
Meylor did pass for 323 yards, but he only had three second-half possessions with which to work and never seemed to get that one big completion to break Logan’s control
“It’s a tough offense to stop, and (Meylor) is really good,” Knoble said. “The wind and rain helped us, and we prayed for it, but we really played the run well, and that helped s so much.”
Junior Daniel Bonifas made another big play by blocking a punt that set up a second-quarter touchdown.
“It was our first one of the year, and it gave us a lot of momentum,” Bakalars said. “It got us pumped up, and we scored after it, so he made a huge play.”
It helped the Rangers reach a new height as a program. They hope the climb continues against the Silver Eagles.