First Mead, then Mother Nature buried Walla Walla on Saturday afternoon.
Behind the running of Scott McGlocklin, the passing of Brandon Muzatko and dominating line play on both sides of the ball, the ninth-ranked Panthers blitzed No. 7 Walla Walla 36-0 in the first round of the State AAA football playoffs at Albi Stadium.
Mead (10-0) had a 23-0 lead over the Blue Devils (9-2) at halftime, when the snow began to cover the field.
“I love it,” McGlocklin said after rushing for 253 yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries in three quarters. “We just knew they would come out tough so we wanted to play harder. The line made it easy. (Weather) was our problem the last two years when we went down there and played in the mud.”
The Panthers, eliminated by the Blue Devils in the first round the past two years in Walla Walla, play Richland (9-2) next Saturday at Albi. The Bombers upset top-ranked Kamiakin (10-1) 21-14.
Mead set the tone when McGlocklin went over right tackle on the game’s third play, broke two tackles and raced 55 yards for a touchdown.
The Panthers matched that 67-yard drive on their second possession, capped by a 3-yard McGlocklin run.
The Panthers put together a 75-yard drive in the second quarter that resulted in a 24-yard field goal by Keith Stamps. About 3 minutes later, Chris McCullough broke through the middle for 40 yards to highlight a seven-play, 82-yard drive that made it 23-0 with 36 seconds left in the half.
“I was extremely proud of our whole team effort and execution. They definitely came to the stadium with a purpose today,” Mead coach Mike McLaughlin said. “I didn’t know our offensive line would dominate the way they did.”
The Panthers wrapped up their 16th straight Albi win, before 2,105 chilled fans, by halftime. They had a 311-99 edge in total offense despite the time of possession being equal.
“After careful consideration, I have to say without a doubt I’d rather play in the snow than the mud,” McLaughlin joked. “I was pleased to have points on the board before it snowed.”
The Blue Devils fumbled the ball away on their first play of the second half, with Evan Thomas recovering on the 43. Then, with a third-and-6 from the 29, McGlocklin broke over the right side, fumbled the ball forward as he broke clear, grabbed it just after he got past the safety and ran untouched to the end zone.
“Toward the end the ball got a little slick but the first half wasn’t too bad,” Muzatko said. “We tried to not make any mental mistakes and hold onto the ball.”
Muzatko completed 7 of 15 passes for 151 yards to go with 375 rushing yards.
The Blue Devils played without Kyle Holman, who led the Big Nine in rushing. Holman dislocated a finger in the qualifying game against Gonzaga Prep on Tuesday and had surgery on Friday. His absence was most obvious on defense, where he plays middle linebacker.
Offensively, the Blue Devils hit just 11 of 27 passes for 108 yards and added 109 rushing.
“We had a good idea what they were going to do,” said Mead defensive tackle Art Avalon, who led the pressure on quarterback Jared Jones. “The key was to stop (Jones) and (Curtis Cornado).”
Cornado carried the ball 17 times for 109 yards but most of it came late.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Mead 36, Walla Walla 0 Walla Walla 0 0 0 0 - 0 Mead 14 9 13 0 -36 M-McGlocklin 55 run (Stamps kick) M-McGlocklin 3 run (Stamps kick) M-Stamps 24 field goal M-McGlocklin 19 run (kick failed) M-McGlocklin 29 run (kick failed) M-McGlocklin 13 run (Stamps kick) WW M First downs 14 18 Rushes-yards 29-109 48-375 Passing yards 108 151 Return yards 0 5 Passes 11-27-0 7-15-0 Punts-avg. 9-30.9 3-41.7 Fumbles-lost 3-2 3-0 Penalties-yards 1-5 3-25 INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS RUSHING Walla Walla: Cornado 17-109, Jones 6-1, Adams 1-0, Roberson 5-minus-1. Mead: McGlocklin 31-253, McCullough 8-75, Winant 2-27, Stamps 3-11, DeJong 1-6, Cassel 2-5, Muzatko 1-minus2. PASSING Walla Walla: Jones 11-27-0-108. Mead: Muzatko 7-15-0-151. RECEIVING Walla Walla: Debolt 9-88, Hawkins 1-13, Turner 1-7. Mead: DeJong 3-69, Wells 2-62, Hardin 1-11, Spidahl 1-9.