COLERAINE — Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin committed seven turnovers and the Blue Devils took full advantage Thursday in a 32-6 victory over the Titans.
A punt block and 58-yard touchdown return by Virginia seemed to be a precursor to the turnovers by the home team.
The Blue Devils defense broke through the Titans line to block the punt, which lineman Josh Stickney picked up and ran into the end zone for a 6-0 Virginia lead with 9:47 to play in the opening quarter.
Virginia continued to have things go their way and ultimately put the game away when Ryan Manninen intercepted a GNK pass at the goal line and ran 99 yards to put the Devils up to stay at 26-6.
After the first Virginia touchdown, GNK took over at their own 35 and Ty Donahue quickly became the workhorse for the home team. He picked up good chunks of territory to the right and to the left as the Titans steadily marched down the field.
Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin threw in a five-yard pass to get the ball to the Virginia 11 before Donahue made it first and goal from the Virginia four. Aidan Rajala then hit Darric Davidson for two yards to give GNK third and goal at the two.
From there, Donahue cruised into the end zone for a 6-6 ball game.
The Blue Devils went three-and-out to end the first quarter, but GNK gave the ball right back with a fumble to start the second. Virginia had the ball at their own 49, and used runs by Xavier Zebro and Jake Burress, along with a pass to Landin McCarty to drive to the GNK 26 before the drive stalled out with a pair of incomplete passes.
The Titans’ bad luck continued on a fumble at their own seven, which was recovered by Virginia. One play later, Burress broke through the line for a 12-6 Blue Devils lead early in the third.
Five plays later, McCarty picked off a Rajala pass, but Virginia gave it back a few plays later with a fumble of their own.
However, GNK couldn’t take advantage as they fumbled on the next play at their own 15.
Just three plays later Toman found Tom Nemanich with a 14 yard scoring strike to put Virginia up 18-6 with 3:15 left in the third quarter.
The Titans looked to be on a roll in the fourth as Rajala ran for 15 yards to midfield and they drove the ball within scoring range on another Rajala run and a pass to Darric Davidson.
However, Manninen read his next pass and went the distance for a 26-6 Virginia lead.
The Blue Devils put the game away midway through the fourth on Gavin Dahl’s second interception of the game, which gave Virginia the ball at their own 33.
A pass of about 50 yards to Mason Carlson had Virginia at the GNK 15. A few plays later, Toman called his own number for the final touchdown, which gave the win to Virginia, 32-6.
Virginia (3-2) plays Eveleth-Gilbert Thursday at 3:30 p.m. on the Mountain Iron-Buhl High School field. GNK (1-4) plays Thursday at International Falls.
Virginia 6 0 12 14 — 32
Greenway/N-K 6 0 0 0 — 6
V — Josh Stickney 58 punt block return (pass failed)
G — Ty Donahue 2 run (run failed)
V — Jake Burress 7 run (pass failed)
V — Tom Nemanich 14 pass from Jack Toman (pass failed)
V — Ryan Manninen 99 interception return (Cole Schaefer pass from Toman)
V — Toman run (pass failed)
- Cook County 20,
- Northeast Range 6
At Babbitt, Northeast Range’s hit Oskar Koivisto hit Dillon Gorsma with an 18-yard touchdown pass, but it wasn’t quite enough as Cook County came away with the win.
Josh Carlson was proud of his team’s effort.
“They go hard. They don’t quit at all.’’
The Nighthawks play at Carlton on Wednesday.
“We keep improving each week. We’ve learned a little bit each week,’’ he said, which was the goal.