By PATRICK SLACK
When the two teams squared off in the regular season, Royalton shut out New York Mills 15-0.
But a repeat of that margin, which only became a two-score difference in the waning minutes, would have caused some considerable discomfort in a playoff setting.
Any concerns of that were wiped away early in Tuesday’s Section 6A first round match-up in Royalton, though, as the second-seeded Royals recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff en route to 20 first-quarter points and a 47-6 thumping of visiting seventh-seeded New York Mills.
“Well, when you get a fumble recovery right away after kicking off, that always helps,” Royalton head coach Jamie Morford said. “We worked all day Monday on execution and I thought we did a very good job of that Tuesday night.
“Mills has a great punishing ground game, but we knew if we played our game and played hard and fast Royalton football, we could put points on the board and make them have to abort what they do best,” he said.
What the Eagles do best usually doesn’t involve digging out of a 20-0 hole, which is what Royalton put them in by the end of the first quarter on a pair of touchdown runs by junior quarterback Brady Moulzolf and another by senior Tony Gadacz.
Moulzolf added another score to make it 27-0 at the half, springboarding the Royals on their way to the runaway triumph.
“We don’t ask Brady to throw much, and he has a great arm, but we are a running team first,” Morford said. “He has struggled a bit lately, but he is a strong competitor and when teams are not going to respect his throwing ability, he can complete some balls.
“The other thing with Brady, besides having a strong arm, he is also one of the fastest players on our team,” he said. “So if he can get a seam, he can get big yards quickly in the run game.”
Moulzolf’s speed was on full display once again immediately out of the break, as he broke free on an 88-yard kickoff return.
Senior Jesse Popp returned an interception 99 yards for a score to extend the lead to 41-0 by the end of three quarters, with junior Trent Cimenski capping the scoring for the Royals on a 21-yard run.
Moulzolf finished the night with 100 yards rushing on seven attempts to go with 48 yards through the air, with Gadacz powering his way to 88 yards on the ground.
Royalton will now move on the section semifinals, Saturday at 6 p.m., where it will host a rematch with another Prairie Conference foe in Browerville.
The Royals broke a 14-14 halftime tie to defeat the Tigers 27-14 in Royalton, Oct. 11.
The sixth-seeded Tigers knocked off third-seeded Pillager 29-8 in the first round.
“It is always hard to beat a good team twice,” Morford said. “Browerville gave us all we could handle the first time we played and I am sure coming off that big win against Pillager, they will be looking for the big second-round upset.
“We need to execute, plain and simple. I felt that our last game against them, our execution was poor at times and allowed for them to make some big plays in the passing game,” he said. “I expect to see the Royals come out and play Royalton football. It should be a great game.”
Royalton 47, New York Mills 6
New York Mills 0 0 0 6 – 6
Royalton 20 7 14 6 – 47
ROY: Tony Gadacz 10 run (Cade Stang kick), 11:25.
ROY: Brady Moulzolf 53 run (Stang kick), 4:02.
ROY: Moulzolf 27 run (conv. failed), 1:03.
ROY: Moulzolf 6 run (Stang kick), 4:31.
ROY: Moulzolf 88 kickoff return (Stang kick), 11:47.
ROY: Jesse Popp 99 interception return (Stang kick), 2:57.
NYM: Patron 2 run (conv. failed), 8:17.
ROY: Trent Cimenski 21 run (conv. failed), 4:14.
Royalton—Rushing: Brady Moulzolf: 7-100; Tony Gadacz: 10-88; Trent Cimenski: 2-45; Cade Stang: 3-34; Austin Popp: 2-15. Passing: Moulzolf: 3-5, 48. Receiving: Popp: 2-32; Kyle Billmeyer: 1-16.
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