Host Med Valley used a strong first half to key a 64-42 victory in a Class D-2 (eight-man) second-round playoff battle of unbeaten squads.
The scoreboard lit up quickly, as Garden County's Devon Sullivan returned the opening kickoff 77 yards for a touchdown to put the Eagles ahead 6-0 just 14 seconds into the game.
Sullivan ran 47 yards for a touchdown to get Garden County within 20-14 late in the first quarter. The Eagles forced a Med Valley punt on its next possession, but a running into the kicker penalty put the hosts in a fourth down and 2 yards to go at the Garden County 35-yard line.
Med Valley passed on the punt, and Contrerez picked up the first down on a great second-effort run. On the next play, Cody Aspenleiter broke free for a 32-yard touchdown run to boost the hosts to a 28-14 lead with 18 seconds still remaining in the opening period.
The clock operator caught a break in the third quarter, as Garden County scored the lone touchdown of the period to get the Eagles within 52-28. Med Valley got the score back early in the final period, as Garey connected with Contrerez for a 39-yard touchdown pass.
Garden County scored two more touchdowns on pass completions to cut the Med Valley lead to 58-42 with just over four minutes remaining. The Raiders recovered an onside kick after a scramble for the football. On the next play, Contrerez sprinted 44 yards for the final touchdown of the night.
Med Valley head coach Scott Johnsen gave credit to Wednesday's opponent for their second-half effort.
"We're proud of our kids," Johnsen said. "Give Garden County a lot of credit. They're a great ball club. They were down 52-22 at the half and they didn't roll over. They put up a fight the second half and made us earn it."
MEDICINE VALLEY rolled up 416 yards on the ground and 150 more through the air for 566 total yards. Garden County was held to 81 rushing yards, but the Eagles hit several wide-open pass plays for 216 aerial yards. Coach Johnsen said his team shuffled its defense in preparation for Garden County after an injury to junior Quinten Chancellor.
"We had some misreads," Johnsen said. "We had some young kids there at the corner spot that haven't been playing a lot. There were misreads, but that can be fixed."
The Raiders had three players rush for more than 100 yards each. Riley Garey led the way with 119 yards on 13 carries. Chase Barthel had 115 yards on 15 attempts, and Ty Contrerez added 102 yards on 10 rushes. Cody Aspenleiter also had 77 yards on 13 rushing attempts.
Coach Johnsen hopes to have Chancellor back in action next week. Throw Chancellor in that backfield mix, and Med Valley has a lot of potent rushing options.
"That's the way we've been all year," Coach Johnsen said. "With Quinten in the game, we're a five-headed monster. We've got five guys that can carry the ball. You look at our stats for the season, nobody has a whole bunch, but they're all right there at 400, 500, 600 (rushing)yards for the season.
"(Opponents) try to key on one person, we've got another kid that can make the play. That's kind of what's made us effective."
Garey completed 8 of 13 passes for 148 yards and four touchdowns. Barthel completed 1 of 3 pass attempts for 2 yards. Contrerez led Med Valley receivers with 3 catches for 63 yards, and Lucas Gleisberg caught five passes for 49 yards.
"There was a few times we caught them not seeing our back come out, sneak out (of the backfield)," Johnsen said. "We made some great plays that really gave us a lot of momentum."
The fast start in the first quarter also gave the Raiders a big boost.
"We came out and started like we wanted to," Johnsen said. "That's how we've been all year -- start hard the first quarter. We're not used to playing four full quarters and I think we weren't ready for that. But we're happy with moving on, and we'll go see what Giltner has to offer and give it our best shot."
THE RAIDERS, 10-0, advance to a D-2 playoff quarterfinal matchup with 10-0 Giltner. The two unbeaten squads will square off Tuesday, Nov. 6 on Giltner's home turf, with kickoff set for 3 p.m. Central Time.
Giltner is the top seed in the West Division of the D-2 playoff bracket, while Medicine Valley is seeded fourth.
Giltner, 10-0, topped Anselmo-Merna, 42-6, in second-round action Oct. 31. The Hornets blasted Hay Springs, 90-14, in first-round play Oct. 25.
Medicine Valley opened the playoffs with a 76-35 win over Potter-Dix.
The Medicine Valley-Giltner winner advances to the D-2 semifinals Monday, Nov. 12.