Through six games, one could argue that Winona's football team really hadn't been tested while posting a 6-0 record.
Now, after seven games, that still could be argued. The Winhawks came to Rochester and pounded Mayo 35-0 on Friday in Big Southeast District action.
Winona quarterback Jackson Nibbelink accounted for all five of his team's touchdowns. He rushed for two scores and threw three TD passes as the Winhawks piled up 345 yards of offense while holding Mayo to just 176.
Mayo rushed for just 27 yards and did not have a rushing first down.
Spartans quarterback Cade Sheehan tried to keep the Spartans in the game, completing 16 of 26 attempts for 124 yards on a cold, windy night, but the Spartans turned the ball over three times and were just 2-for-6 on fourth down.
Mayo head coach Donny Holcomb said that while Nibbelink had a great game, this contest was won and lost in the trenches. "They've got a big offensive line, and the same guys play on defense," he said. "That's what they hang their hat on, their offensive and defensive lines."
Still, the Spartans did occasionally move the football -- but they couldn't finish their drives. "At times we did some good things, but again, their line is big, and you have to commit to playing tough, because patty-cake isn't gonna work," Holcomb said. "We found that out tonight."
Winona started the game with a 60-yard drive, all of it on the ground, that consumed more than seven minutes of clock.
The Winhawks next drive was much less time-consuming, as Nibbelink hit Austin Mlynczak for a 69-yard TD on the first play of the second quarter to take a 14-0 lead.
It was 21-0 at halftime, but Mayo's defense stiffened in the third quarter, as neither team scored.
"In the first half, I don't think we chose to play physical on defense," Holcomb said. "In the second half, we held them to three three-and-outs, and nearly had a fourth. It's a choice that we have to make about how we want to play, and we have to understand that it's a physical game."
Winona is now 7-0 and is ranked fourth in Class AAAA. Mayo is 4-3 and will close out the regular season on Wednesday at Century.
Winona 35, Mayo 0
W — Jackson Nibbelink 2 run (run failed), 4:52
W — Austin Mlynczak 69 pass from Nibbelink (Nibbelink run), 11:50.
W — Nibbelink 29 run (Bryan Cassellius kick), 6:18.
W — Sam Kanne 13 pass from Nibbelink (Cassellius kick), 8:41
W — Bryan Cassellius 31 pass from Nibbelink (Cassellius kick), 7:23.
Total net yards#345#176
Winona — Colton Beier 27-105, Sam Kanne 9-51, Jackson Nibbelink 9-47. Mayo — Asa Cummings 12-29, Jesus Rodriguez 2-8, Cayden Holcomb 1-1, Bennett Elsworth 1- (-5), Cade Sheehan 1-(-6).
Winona — Jackson Nibbelink 6completions, 9 attempts, 0 interceptions, 3 touchdowns, for 142 yards. Mayo — Sheehan 16-26-1-0, for 124 yards; Bennet Elsworth 3-5-0-0 25 yards.
Winona — Austin Mlynczak 2-74, Bryan Cassellius 1-31; Spencer Wright 1-22; Sam Kanne 1-13; Colton Beier 1-2. Mayo — Carter Holcomb 5-34, Cayden Holcomb 5-45, Mason Greseth 2-21, Asa Cummings 4-24, Rick Kobayashi 2-15; Dominic Stencil 1-10.