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For Luther North, Friday's Class 1A first-round playoff game against Ottawa Marquette probably felt as if it lasted as long as the school's wait to get back to the playoffs.
In the program's first playoff game since 1989, 15th-seeded Luther North trailed by 30 points at halftime and fell 44-8 to second-seeded Ottawa Marquette.
The Wildcats (5-5) were no match for Marquette's size differential. The Crusaders, 10-0 now after going 3-24 the previous three seasons, dominated up front as they scored on six of their first eight possessions. That included an 86-yard touchdown run by fullback Curtiss Johnson on Marquette's first offensive play of the game.
"They probably got us on most spots on the line of 30 to 40 pounds a guy on the line," Luther North coach Ricky Ludwig said. "But like I said, you have to give credit where credit is due. They're big, and we're not. I think we can play with them, but right now, I think we're just a young team that is learning how to play with a team that gives us a mismatch problem."
Johnson rushed for 178 yards and three touchdowns as Marquette built a 44-0 advantage. Cole Lindhout had 120 yards of total offense, including a 10-yard touchdown run and a 37-yard touchdown reception.
Jeremy Jensen scored Luther North's lone touchdown on a five-yard run late in the fourth quarter. He finished with 52 yards and also intercepted a pass. Felix Loja had 59 yards.
Despite the loss, Luther North was all smiles considering the school nearly closed down a couple years ago and the football program had to forfeit three games in 2008 due to low numbers. That was followed by three wins from 2009-2011.
"To go from that to a 5-4 team and be in the playoffs, it's unreal," Jensen said. "Our school has supported us throughout the whole thing. We have a fan bus, and that's something I never thought we'd have my freshman year. It's just amazing.''