Bobby Striggow's white No. 9 jersey was gashed at the shoulder during a midseason game at Chaska and the Orono running back switched to No. 20 from there.
Different numbers, same tough runner. Striggow ran for three touchdowns Tuesday as the Spartans turned an early deficit into a 36-7 victory at Blake, home of the SMB Wolfpack, in a Class 4A, Section 5 first-round game.
"We knew if we kept pounding that they couldn't hang with us," Striggow said.
No. 5 seed Orono (5-4) advanced to play at 7 p.m. Saturday at No. 1 seed and defending Prep Bowl champion Benilde-St. Margaret's. The Red Knights defeated Orono 14-0 the second week of the regular season.
No. 4 seed SMB (6-3) struggled in the passing game. Quarterback and nationally coveted basketball guard Jalen Suggs was without receiver Terry Lockett Jr., who missed his third consecutive game because of an injury. His absence showed as Suggs, despite ample time in the pocket, struggled to get the ball downfield.
"We had trouble throwing vertically," Wolfpack coach Collin Quinn said. "Our defense played well, but they were always on the field. We weren't grinding out first downs."
The Wolfpack, which draws students from St. Paul Academy, Minnehaha and Blake, began wilting in the second half as Striggow churned his legs through contact and gained consistent yardage.
Then Orono scored in Wolfpack-like fashion as Nick Prentice threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Tommy Deters. The play-action pass made the score 23-7 with 54 seconds left in the third quarter.
Each team took advantage of miscues in the first half.
The Wolfpack recovered an Orono fumble at the Spartans 23-yard line. Then an option pitch from Suggs to Thomas Washington gave the running back a clear lane to the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.
But the Spartans retook momentum for the remainder of the first half. SMB surrendered a safety when the ball was snapped over the punter's head and out the back of the end zone. A touchdown on Orono's ensuing drive made it 9-7 as the Spartans kept rolling.