KASSON –– Mayo couldn't play on their home field on Thursday night, but Bennett Ellsworth looked right at home in Kasson-Mantorville's gorgeous stadium.
The Mayo Spartans' junior quarterback went off for 189 passing yards and four touchdowns in the first half alone. He finished with five touchdown passes as the Spartans routed Mankato East 48-23.
“Felt great," Ellsworth said. "I knew we could do it. It came down to execution. And we finally did it. We have a great scheme and great coaching. I have super reliable wide receivers. It’s awesome.”
Ellsworth was nearly flawless all night long. With pressure in his face, Ellsworth stayed calm, cool and collected on his way to shredding the Mankato East defense.
When they let him sit in the pocket, he connected with Tore Pappenfus down the seam for a 34-yard touchdown. When they forced him to escape from the pocket, Ellsworth threw two touchdown passes on the run –– one to Pappenfus and the other to Mason Greseth in the corner of the end zone.
And then when the entire stadium knew that Ellsworth was throwing to the end zone at the end of the first half, he still managed to thread the needle between multiple Cougar defenders for a 35-yard touchdown strike to Carter Holcomb.
Mayo head coach Donny Holcomb had been pleading for the Spartans to start fast and put it all together. They did both on Thursday. Mayo held a 35-8 halftime lead and cruised all night long.
"That’s the thing I’m most proud of," Holcomb said. "It’s rewarding as a coach when you see the kids perform to their abilities. It's a great team win."
Ellsworth and the passing attack was on fire, but the Spartans' running game started strong as Noah Smith marched the offense right down the field with two big carries. And then they finished strong as DeMonte Simmons exploded for a 58-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter.
"I saw Noah do it, so I was like, ‘Hey if he can do it, I can do it,'" Simmons said. "I have to show him who’s the best running back a few times. I like to joke around. But he did good."
Mayo finished with 467 total yards of offense. And it was perfectly balanced. There were 234 through the air, 233 on the ground.
"They both do some different things really well," Holcomb said. "Noah is a straight-ahead runner. DeMonte makes somethings happen. It’s nice to have them both because they complement each other well, but it also makes them work hard because the other one can play, too. It’s super fun to be able to do a lot of everything. The kids played really well."
Mayo improved to 3-2 and it'll get its chance to knock off undefeated Byron next week. The Spartans will be ready for Bears' superstar running back Austin Freerksen.
"We have to be disciplined and stay home for the cutback," Donny Holcomb said. "We have to wrap up around the waist and not the shoulder pads. I think the kids will be up for it and ready for the challenge.”
MAYO 48, MANKATO EAST 23
Mankato East 0 8 8 7 –– 23
Mayo 14 21 6 7 –– 48
MAYO –– Tore Pappenfus 8 yard pass from Bennett Ellsworth, (Kyle Doppler kick), 10:32
MAYO –– DeMonte Simmons 4 yard run, (Doppler kick) 2:19
MAYO –– Tore Pappenfus 34 yard pass from Ellsworth, (Doppler kick), 11:54
MAYO –– Mason Greseth 24 yard pass from Ellsworth, (Doppler kick) 1:58
EAST –– Gus Gartzke 2 yard run (Jacob Eggert to Tanner Borchardt for conversion) 0:22
MAYO –– Carter Holcomb 35 yard pass from Ellsworth, (Doppler kick) 0:00
EAST –– Joseph Uldrych 38 yard pass from Eggert (Gartzke conversion), 9:05
MAYO –– Michael Mankaka 27 yard pass from Ellsworth, (conversion failed) 6:51
MAYO –– DeMonte Simmons 58 yard run, (Doppler kick) 7:46
EAST –– Gus Gartzke 2 yard run (Nathan Drumm kick) 3:47
Total offense 467 390
Passing 234 255
Rushing 233 135
Penalties 1-10, 4-30
MAYO: DeMonte Simmons, 5-85, 2 TDs; Noah Smith 10-101; Tore Pappenfus, 4-43; Bennett Ellsworth 1-5; LeBron See-Stadstad 2- (minus 1)
MANKATO EAST: Jacob Sundermeyer, 18-74; Gus Gartzke, 7-30, 2 TDs; Jacob Eggert, 2-14; Diego Reyes, 4-16; Nathan Drumm, 1-1
MAYO: Bennett Ellsworth, 13-18, 234 yards, 5 touchdowns, 1 interception
MANKATO EAST: Jacob Eggert 22-35, 269 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
MAYO: Carter Holcomb, 5-85, TD; Cayden Holcomb, 2-43; Michael Mankaka, 2-35, TD; Mason Greseth, 1-24, TD; Tore Pappenfus, 2-42, 2 TDs
MANKATO EAST: Jared Grams, 6-57; Nathan Drumm, 4-42; Tanner Borchardt, 6-61; Gus Gartzke 1-7; Joseph Uldrych 1-38, TD; Thomas Braswell, 1-14; Puolrah Gong, 1-39; Carter Danielson, 1-8; Kaden Oachs, 1-6