CANNON FALLS — After an improbable run to the Class AAA state football quarterfinals last year, Cannon Falls is on a mission to return to Minnesota's biggest stage.
And after two games, they've given future foes a lot to think about.
While the Bombers are best known for their triple-option ground attack, quarterback Jack Dommeyer connected with Marcus Banks for touchdowns of 43 yards and 27 yards on Friday as Cannon Falls knocked off Pine Island 35-20.
If not for a dropped pass in the end zone, Dommeyer would have finished the first half 4-for-4 with three touchdowns.
"We always have the idea that we're going to get teams to think we're going to run all of the time, so they'll bring everyone up to the line," Dommeyer said. "Then, when they least expect it, we'll hit them with the play-action pass, and that's exactly what we did tonight. And almost every time we throw, we're looking for the home-run ball."
Head coach Dan Meyers enjoyed seeing his team's success with the passing game.
"We hope that we're making enough plays that we'll make some defensive coordinators worry about how to defend us," he said. "We don't pass a lot, but when we do, a lot of times there are guys wide open."
Of course, play-action passes tend to be more effective when the defense has to respect the running game, and that's certainly the case with Cannon Falls. On Friday, Pine Island had no answer for senior running back Trenton Matthies, who had touchdown runs of 44, 66 and 59 yards while piling up 221 yards on just 16 carries.
"It's all because of our offensive line," Matthies said. "They opened up huge holes for me. They just did a great job."
The Bombers tallied 385 yards on the ground, and part of the problem for Pine Island's defense was Dommeyer's slick ball-handling and fakes. With three backs in a tight formation behind Dommeyer, the Panthers often tackled the wrong guy. Dommeyer himself rushed for 88 yards on just seven carries.
Pine Island head coach John Stapleton said he'd have to watch the film to see what went wrong on defense.
"We need guys to stay at home and take care of their responsibilities," he said. "We'll need to study what happened, but obviously, they really took it to us with their offensive line, and they were able to take advantage of some things with the passing game that we maybe didn't think they'd be able to do. Give them all the credit. They made plays."
But early on, it was Pine Island that made plays. The Panthers took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in seven plays, with quarterback Carter O'Reilly tossing a 22-yard touchdown pass to Connor Bailey.
The Bombers responded with their own seven-play drive that covered 74 yards, culminating with Banks' 43-yard TD grab.
Pine Island then went three-and-out, and the Bombers promptly marched 54 yards, with Matthies covering the last 44 to give Cannon Falls a lead it would not relinquish. When Matthies dashed 66 yards for a score on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Cannon Falls led 27-7 and it appeared that the rout was on.
Pine Island had other ideas.
Max Owen plunged in from one yard out to cut the lead to 27-14, and when Jarod White scored from 13 yards out with 6:27 to play, Pine Island trailed 27-20.
But Matthies got loose again, this time for a 59-yard score that put the game out of reach.
Stapleton, whose squad was playing its first game of the year, said he was proud of the fight they showed against a tough opponent that already had a game under its belt.
"Our kids didn't give up," he said. "They tried to get better and improve, and we've got some things to clean up defensively to get some stops, but I thought we improved in the second half."
Cannon Falls (2-0) plays at Red Wing next week, while Pine Island (0-1) hosts St. Charles.
Cannon Falls 35, Pine Island 20
Pine Island 7 0 0 13 — 20
Cannon Falls 14 7 6 8 — 35
PI — Carter O'Reilly 22 pass to Connor Bailey (Dylan Holzer kick), 8:47.
CF — Jack Dommeyer 43 pass to Marcus Banks (Sam Ludden kick) 5:36.
CF — Trenton Matthies 44 run (Ludden kick) :54
CF — Dommeyer 27 pass to Banks (Ludden kick), :49.
CF — Matthies 66 run (kick blocked), 11:41.
PI — Max Owen 1 run (Holzer kick), 11:38.
PI — Jarod White 13 run (kick failed), 6:26.
CF — Matthies 59 run (Cade Holt 2-point conversion), 3:48.
Total net yards 308 492
Rushes-yards 27-138 46-385
Passing yards 170 107
Comp.-att.-int. 20-33-1 3-6-0
Penalties-yds. 2-15 2-25
Fumbles-lost 1-0 2-0
Punts-avg. 3-33 0-0
Pine Island — Jarod White 14-82, Carter O'Reilly 5-33, Max Owen 7-22, owen Allen 1-1. Cannon Falls — Trenton Matthies 16-221, Jack Dommeyer 7-88, KadeHOlt 13-51, Braxton Ulrich 3-25, Riley Miller 2-3, Riley Keenan 2-0, Owen Edstrom 3- (-3).
Pine Island — Carter O'Reilly 20 completions, 32 attempts, 1 interception, 1 touchdowns, for 170 yards. Cannon Falls — Jack Dommeyer 3-6-0-2 for 107 yards.
Pine Island — Max Owen 6-53, Connor Bailey 4-41, Jarod White 3-25, Will Warneke 3-20, Owen Allen 1-11, Mason Pike 2-11, Tucker Fogarty 1-9. Cannon Falls — Marcus Banks 2-70, Trenton Matthies 1-37.