Talk about a way to start the playoffs.

Waseca senior quarterback Ryan Dufault rushed for four touchdowns and threw for two Tuesday in a 57-14 rout of Pine Island in the Section 1AAA semifinals at Waseca Junior Senior High School.

Dufault finished with 162 yards rushing on 13 carries. He also completed 5 of 6 passes for 77 yards.

“Ryan is getting more comfortable and gaining confidence,” Bluejays head coach Brad Wendland said. “We’re starting to develop an identity with our passing game.”

Top-seeded Waseca (5-1) rolled up 333 rushing yards on 31 attempts against the fourth-seeded Pioneers (3-2) in the opening game of the playoffs.

Kyreese Willingham caught both touchdown passes and finished with two receptions and 36 receiving yards. Tave Ball led the team with 41 yards receiving on three receptions. He also ran for 49 yards along with Kyle Ahlschlager.

The Bluejays played with a short field most of the first quarter. Dufault ran in from 34 yards out after a three-and-out from Pine Island to score the first touchdown with 10 minutes to play in the first quarter.

Following a 21-yard run by Ball on Waseca’s second possession, Dufault scored from 20 yards out to make it 15-0 after he also ran in the two-point conversion. Dufault added a third score from 5 yards out with 4:09 to play in the quarter four plays after Riley Forshee recovered a Pioneers fumble at their 28-yard line.

Pine Island put together a scoring drive late in the first quarter and capitalized 10 seconds into the second quarter. Quarterback Nick Grande ran in from a yard out to complete an eight-play, 80-yard drive to make it 21-8.

Dufault’s fourth rushing touchdown came from 9 yards out before he connected with Willingham on scoring plays of 10 and 26 yards out to put the Bluejays up 43-8 at halftime.

Ball added a 34-yard score 1:38 into the second half and Ahlschlager scored from 37 yards out following a Max Neaves interception with 8:44 to play in the third quarter.

Waseca limited the Pioneers to 178 yards rushing and 29 yards passing. Neaves also forced a fumble in the fourth quarter Forshee recovered. Connor Buchele led the Bluejays with six tackles. Forshee and Matt Seberson each had a sack. Dravyn Spies had five tackles while Dufault and Kylynd Adams each had four.

Wendland said his team will focus on facing Plainview-Elgin-Millville — 22-6 winners over Stewartville Tuesday — Saturday for the Section 1AAA title at 1 p.m. in Waseca despite an anticipated announcement from Gov. Walz declaring a suspension in fall sports due to rising COVID-19 rates.

Reach Sports Editor Nick Gerhardt at 507-835-5447 or follow him on Twitter @WCNSports. ©Copyright 2020 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

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