MADISON, Wisconsin — Running back Ethan Ellingsworth set the stage for a Chieftans offense that gave Osceola a 28-0 victory over Lodi on Thursday in the WIAA Division 4 state championship.
Ellingsworth had nine carries for 108 yards and one touchdown for Osceola (13-1), which earned its second state title in program history, to go along with a 1984 championship.
The Chieftans held a powerful Lodi offense to 220 overall yards, including 85 passing yards, to post its third shutout of the season. The Blue Devils (13-1), who had three turnovers, were appearing in their first state championship.
Ellingsworth, a junior, bolted 77 yards on a punt return to the 12-yard line, and four plays later, quarterback Tucker Hazzard ran one yard for the first-quarter touchdown that put Osceola on the board at 7-0.
The Blue Devils had their chances to get on the board in the first half. Garett Wegner's 45-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide right with 4:07 to go in the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, tailback Casey Persike bolted 49 yards to the end zone, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty.
Lodi threatened on the first drive in the third quarter, driving to the Osceola 19-yard line, before two sacks and two penalties pushed them back to Chieftans' 44-yard line.
Lodi coach Dave Puls said mistakes throughout the game were too difficult to overcome, including miscommunication on punt coverage that led to Osceola's first score.
"We turned the ball over deep in our own territory a couple of times and they converted that into points," Puls said. "You can't do that in a state championship ballgame.
"It was just mental mistakes. You just can't do that."
Osceola coach Scott Newton said he was pleased with his team's overall effort, though the accomplishments on defense jumped out.
"I always believe defense wins championships," Newton said. "If you play great defense, you have a chance to win. We did that."
Ellingsworth's 40-yard touchdown run pushed Osceola's advantage to 21-0 with 1 minute, 30 seconds to go in the third.
Osceola pounded the ground with 217 rushing yards to wear down a Blue Devils defense that allowed 68 points (5.2 points per game) the entire season, along with averages of 111 passing and 43.5 rushing yards.