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Northwestern at Bloomer football 9-14-18

Isaiah LaGesse, Jayzson Thompson

BLOOMER — With two premier running attacks, the Bloomer and Northwestern teams were set for a battle on the ground.

But Bloomer was without running back Caleb Ruf for a second straight game allowing Northwestern's Reagan Ruffi to steal the show.

Ruffi ran for more than 200 yards as the Tigers defeated the Blackhawks 35-12 in Bloomer on Friday in a matchup of undefeated Heart O'North Conference rivals.

"Hats off to them," Bloomer coach John Post said. "Ruffi is a beast. He is one of the best running backs in this part of the state if not northern Wisconsin. They are a good team, but I don’t believe we are a 35-12 team with a full team (healthy)."

Bloomer was also without quarterback Zach Ruf for most of the second half following an injury.

The Blackhawks (4-1, 2-1) had the chance to grab the early momentum as they forced a missed field goal after Northwestern pushed inside the red zone. Four plays later Ruf appeared to have a 69-yard touchdown run, but the play was called back due to offsetting penalties.

The Tigers (5-0, 3-0) took advantage of the replay of the down and forced a punt, and they were off to the races.

Northwestern scored 21 points in the second quarter, with first coming on a 16-yard scamper from Keegan Plasch with 7:51 remaining in the second quarter.

The Tigers scored on three straight possessions to close the half up 21-0, including a Ruffi 33-yard rushing score with about a minute left before the half.

Zach Ruf went out with an injury on the first possession out of the break and Bloomer was forced to punt on their first two drives after the half.

Northwestern added another score early in the third quarter.

In Ruf's place, Isaiah LaGesse assumed the role of quarterback. LaGesse lead Bloomer to two second half touchdown drives, both finished on runs by Jesse Buckli, but it wasn't enough as Bloomer suffered their first loss of the season.

LaGesse completed seven of his 14 pass attempt for 122 yards.

Ruf lead the team on the ground with 11 carries for 68 yards before his injury. Leif Iverson caught two passes for 44 yards.

Northwestern held a Blackhawks team averaging 302 yards on the ground to 73 yards on 21 carries.

"Our kids worked really hard in the offseason to get to this point," Northwestern coach Jovin Kroll said. "I think they did a great job against that run game. Bloomer has some absolute horses that can pound the football and our kids played extremely well tonight to have the success defensively they did."

Ruffi carried the Tigers, hauling the ball 33 times for 206 yards. Northwestern quarterback Jake Brill was 3-for-7 for 98 yards, including a 53-yard touchdown strike to Brody Payton.

"I think the Bloomer/Northwestern game every year in this conference has a little added importance because of the culture of winning both schools possess," Kroll said. "Beating (Bloomer) is one of the major steps you have to take each year if you want to win the Heart O’North."

The Blackhawks are hoping to get healthy as they move farther into the season. Post said Zach Ruf was available later in the game but he held him out due to the deficit. Bloomer will look to rebound when they travel to Cumberland next Friday.

"It’s nice to win the conference, but it’s not going to define our goal," Post said. "We have a nice team and we had some injuries tonight and we’re going to have to figure out what to do and move forward."

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Chippewa Herald sports reporter

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