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GFW runs over USC, returns to state for 1st time since 2009

NEW PRAGUE — For the first time since 2009, the Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop football team is heading to state.

The No. 2-seeded Thunderbirds sprinted past top-seeded United South Central on Friday night for a 48-26 win at New Prague High School in the Section 2A championship game.

With the win, GFW moves on to the state tournament next weekend for a 7 p.m. game at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud, while USC ends their season at 10-1.

The Thunderbirds scored on their first four possessions, getting on the board first with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Brody Hentges to Evan Martin. USC answered that score with a 12-yard TD pass from Ethan Dallman to AJ Kloos before JC Munoz ripped off a 60-yard TD run to put GFW back in front 14-6 after one quarter.

Dominic Henrichs then scored GFW’s third TD of the night on a 66-yard run with 10:33 left in the second quarter before USC answered with a 14-yard TD pass from Dallman to Kloos to trail 22-12. Martin wrapped up the scoring in the first half for the Thunderbirds with a 4-yard TD run with 6:40 left in the second to give GFW a 30-12 lead at halftime.

GFW got a late interception by Blake Schroeder in the second quarter and began to drive its offense down the field late. The Thunderbirds ended up getting within the USC 10-yard line but ran out of time and failed to score.

The Rebels opened the second half with an 11-play, 80-yard drive and scored after a 3-yard TD run by Zach Niebuhr. A 2-point conversion run by Niebuhr had USC down 30-20 with 8:01 left in the third, but the Thunderbirds answered back less than a minute later after Munoz got a 32-yard TD run to put his team up 36-20 with 7:02 left in the third.

GFW went up 42-20 after Henrichs scored his second TD of the game on a 59-yard run with 3:27 left in the third. USC got a 90-yard pick six on the first play of the fourth quarter by Riley Staloch to cut the deficit to 42-26, but the Thunderbirds ate up the clock and added one final score on a short TD run by Ryan Lavrenz with 3:43 left in the game.

Henrichs led the Thunderbirds on offense with 246 yards on 13 carries, while Munoz had 113 yards rushing on seven carries and Lavrenz had 70 yards rushing on 14 carries.

Schroeder ended the game with a pair of interceptions for the GFW defense, while Munoz had 16 total tackles.

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