Despite losing its two top offensive threats - at least at their normal positions - the Storm Lake High football team came away with a gutty, 27-24 non-conference win over Cherokee here Friday night at Tornado Stadium.
Junior quarterback Mitch McCabe was tackled on the Tornadoes' first play from scrimmage and injured his right anke.
The signal caller was sidelined for the rest of the game and was taken for X-rays after the contest.
In McCabe's absence, junior slot back Logan Masters stepped in at quarterback and threw for three scores while running for one more touchdown.
Throughout much of the fourth quarter, Masters was battling a shoulder injury.
"We lose Mitch on our first play and that really hurt our offense," coach Bill McCabe said after the game.
"You not only lose your starting quarterback, but you lose an all-state caliber receiver."
Coach McCabe praised his defense, which played well throughout the game, often in poor field position. Storm Lake intercepted Cherokee sophomore quarterback Mark Johnson four times.
"We had to battle some injuries but we gutted it out and came away with a win," McCabe said.
The Tornades took a quick, 7-0 lead in the first quarter when Masters rolled to his right and found wide out Derrick Randall with a 20-yard scoring pass.
Still in the first quarter, the Tornadoes took a 13-0 lead after Masters snuck in from a yard out.
Cherokee struck back with a 39-yard scoring pass in the second quarter from Johnson to wideout Chris Campbell, but SL led 13-7 after one quarter.
Neither team got much going offensively in the second quarter, as the Tornadoes went into halftime with their 13-7 lead.
The only score in the third quarter was a 32-yard field goal by Cherokee, as the Braves closed to within 13-10 after three quarters.
Cherokee retook the momentum and scored two touchdowns in the final frame for a 23-13 lead. The first score came on a 3-yard run by Tim Jones, and the second on a 5-yard pass from Johnson to Campbell.
Storm Lake made just enough key plays down the stretch for the win.
The Tornadoes answered the Braves' last score in short order, as Masters hooked up with wide out Chom Thammavongsa on a 68-yard scoring strike.
With about four minutes left in the contest and still trailing 18, Storm Lake took the lead for good. This time, Masters tossed a 31-yard scoring pass to Randall.
Cherokee wasn't able to mount a scoring threat after that, as Storm Lake improved to 1-1 on the season.
Masters finished with 194 passing yards on 13 of 34 completions and three touchdowns.
Cherokee held the Tornado rushing attack to a minus 36-yards.
Johnson had an outstanding effort in just his second varsity start, completing 26 of 47 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns.
Randall had four catches for 43 yards while Thammavongsa also caught four passes for 96 yards.
Coach McCabe said he didn't know the status of Mitch McCabe and Masters for next week's district opener at home against Algona.
"We'll just have to wait and see and hope for the best," he said.