Football: Florence routs Gibraltar, 54-6

Florence's William Liebergen (12) drags a Gibraltar defender across the goal line for a first-quarter touchdown Friday at Robert Landry Field in Florence, Wis. (Ron Deuter/The Daily News)

FLORENCE, Wis — Kaden Schuls returned the opening kickoff 65 yards for a touchdown and Florence led 6-0 just 10 seconds into the game.

The Bobcats never looked back.

It was that kind of night for a 54-6 rout against Gibraltar on Friday.

Coach Kent Walstrom was very pleased with his team after tonights game.

“Great way to start the season,” Walstrom said. “We really controlled the line of scrimmage all night, and dating back a couple of years, that was something we hadn’t done for an entire game in quite sometime. I want to give a lot of credit to my offensive and defensive lines tonight.”

After Gibraltar went three and out on it’s first possession, Florence got the ball back and Will Liebergen scored on a seven yard touchdown run, on the eighth play of the drive at the 6:50 mark of the first quarter to make it 14-0.

Upon getting the ball back at the 20 yard line on another Schuls touchback, Gibraltar quarterback Luke Steebs dropped back to pass on second and 5 and lofted a pass to the right sideline intended for wide receiver Dominic Krauel.

That’s when Wheeler intercepted it and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown, extending the Bobcats’ lead to 22-0 halfway through the first quarter.

“Toby is a game changer,” Walstrom said. “Reaching in there and taking the ball right out of the receivers hands like that. Those are the type of plays he brings to the team.”

Gibraltar then went on their longest drive of the night — the only one resulting in points. An 11-play drive ended with Steebs’ 6-yard touchdown run.

After a 15-yard horse collar penalty called on Gibraltar during the ensuing kickoff, Florence scored again five plays later when Wheeler hit Schuls down the left sideline with a short pass that Schuls took to the end zone for a 21-yard touchdown with 11:11 left in the second quarter. Libergen added the 2-point conversion on a run to make it 30-6.

Gibraltar later punted after a 10-play drive. Florence found the end zone once again after another drive lasting only five plays. A 9-yard quarterback keeper by Wheeler with 3:40 remaining with a Libergen 2-point conversion made the score 38-6.

Florence’s defense forced another three and out and Wheeler’s 8-yard run made it 46-6.

A 10-play drive to start the second half for Gibraltar ended with a turnover on downs at the Bobcats’ 10. On first down, Schuls streaked down the far sideline for a 90-yard score.

Florence amassed 288 total yards of offense on the night, including 233 rushing. Schuls rushed for 128 yard on six carries including a 90 yard touchdown run. He also had all of the Bobcats’ receiving with 55 yards and a score. Wheeler was 2 for 3 with 55 yards and a touchdown.

Gibraltar had 180 total yards, with 131 passing and 49 rushing. Steebs was the Vikings’ leading rusher with 49 yards on 15 carries.

With a short week, Florence travels to Wausaukee on Thursday for another conference game.

Gibraltar 6 0 0 0 — 6

Florence 22 24 8 0 — 54

First Quarter

F — Schuls 65 kick Return (2-point run by Wheeler), 11:50.

F — Libergen 7 run (2-point run by Schuls), 6:50.

F — Wheeler 25 interception return (2-point run failed), 6:36.

G — Steebs 6 run (2-point run failed), 2:51.

Second Quarter

F — Schuls 20 yard pass from Wheeler (2-point run by Liebergen), 11:11.

F — Wheeler 9 run(2-point run by Liebergen), 3:40.

F — Wheeler 8 run (2-point run by Wheeler), 0:05.

Third Quarter

F — Schuls 90 run (2-point run by Hixon), 3:17.