The West Hancock football team earned the top rating in Class A for a reason.
The Eagles put up some prodigious offensive numbers during the regular season, including a scoring average of better than 45 points per game and a rushing attack that exceeded 400 yards per game.
The playoffs, though, can be a different story.
With a little more than a minute remaining before halftime in its Class A playoff opener on Friday, West Hancock found itself locked in a tight matchup against IKM, but the next 2:15 of clock time would prove crucial as the Eagles punched in three touchdowns in that span and pulled away for a 38-14 win.
“The end of the first half was huge,” Eagles coach Mark Sanger said.
West Hancock held a scant 16-14 lead before Josef Smith scampered into the end zone from 11 yards out to give the Eagles a 24-14 lead with 1:22 remaining in the first half.
On the ensuing play, Cayson Barnes intercepted a pass that set up West Hancock on the Wolves 37-yard line.
Smith rambled in from 22 yards out with 12 seconds remaining in the half and then added a 72-yard scoring run 53 seconds into the third quarter to help the Eagles blow the game open.
“Our offensive linemen are the big rhinos,” Sanger said. “Every play, all of the big collisions, they take pride in doing that.”
For the game, West Hancock rushed 39 times for 350 yards and four scores.
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Smith finished the game with 184 yards on 11 carries and is now just 13 yards shy of the 1,000-yard mark on the ground.
Tate Hagen totaled 138 yards on the ground and added a 78-yard kickoff return for a score.
Hagen has 1,687 rushing yards on the season.
The third member of the potent Eagle backfield, Cole Kelly, added 58 yards and a score.
Kelly needs 28 yards to also reach 1,000 for the season.
The Eagles did not attempt a pass in the game.
As solid as the offensive was for West Hancock, two big defensive stands that stopped IKM drives on the Eagles’ one and nine-yard lines were the big difference in the game.
The Eagles (10-0) advance to quarterfinal play on Friday where they will entertain South O’Brien, which dumped Tri-Center Neola 43-7 in its opener.