By Kelsie Hoitomt
CLAYTON – Dominating is the word to describe how the Hilltopper’s played in last Saturday’s game against the Clayton Bears.
The Toppers completely shut down the Division 7, number one seeded Bears, who were undefeated going into the game until they lost 46-6.
The Hilltoppers set the pace for the game fairly quickly as they scored two touchdowns in the first quarter which provided momentum not only throughout the team, but in the sea of Glenwood City fans as well.
The first touchdown came during their second possession on a 13 yard pass play from Nick Mrdutt to Blake Ramsden. Austin Moe ran in the two-point conversion to put the Toppers on the board first.
The Toppers held the Bears to fourth down and 20 on their following possession and forced them to punt yet again.
With the ball carried to the 45 yard line, Jeff Kopacz took off down the sideline for the Hilltoppers second touchdown with less than 30 seconds left in the quarter.
This time the two-point conversion was scored by Adam Holmquist to put the score at 16-0 going into the second quarter.
The Bears would score their only touchdown in the opening minutes of the second quarter on a 41 yard pass completion from Kyle Larson to Brock Lien. The two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful which put the score at 6-16.
From there on out the Hilltoppers were in complete control of the game offensively, but especially defensively as they hit hard and held the Bears on downs.
Their third touchdown came during their first possession in the second quarter after starting on the Bears 47 yard line.
Kopacz, Holmquist and Isaac Tuttle brought the ball to the 21 yard line and then it was another pass from Mrdutt to Ramsden that put the ball in the end zone.
Mrdutt held onto the ball for the quarterback keeper for the two-point conversion play to put the score at 24-6 with just under ten minutes left in the first half.
The Bears would look to score again, but a pass from Larson was intercepted near the end zone by Jake Carlson and brought out to the Hilltoppers own 20 yard line.
A penalty on the Hilltoppers would push them back five yards, but they would redeem themselves after a pass from Mrdutt to Kopacz was ran in for a touchdown to put the score at 30-6.
The Hilltoppers were on a roll as they again shut down the Bears following drive near the end zone with an interception by Mrdutt.
The Toppers would take full advantage of the interception as they marched down the field from their own 37 yard line to the ten.
A penalty on the Bears would set the Hilltoppers on the five yard line. With 30 seconds left on the clock, Kopacz ran the ball in for another touchdown.
Mrdutt was able to put the ball in the end zone for the two-point conversion with the help of a big block by Tuttle to put the score at 38-6.
The Bears received the kick-off to start the second half on their own 35 yard line. The arm of Larson brought the team to the 15 yard line where a final run by Lien into the end zone appeared to be another Bears touchdown.
A penalty on the Bears would bring the ball back. Schouten would then break up a pass in the end zone and a failed fourth down attempt would turn the ball over to the Hilltoppers.
The Hilltoppers would be forced to punt on the drive, but the defense played strong and held the Bears to a punt going into the fourth quarter.
The punt was faked and the pass fell incomplete so the Hilltoppers took over on the 23 yard line.
A seven yard run by Moe and a 11 yard run by Mrdutt put the ball on the five yard line where Kopacz took the ball in for the Hilltoppers final touchdown of the game.
Holmquist broke through the middle of the line for the two-point conversion to put the Hilltoppers ahead 46-6.
With a 35 point difference in the score going into the fourth quarter, the clock would continue to run.
The Bears last attempt at scoring was stopped after Larson was sacked by Holmquist and then had an incomplete pass which forced them to punt.
The majority of the Hilltopper’s junior varsity team took over on the field and let the clock tick.
With Ramsden at quarterback, he would take a knee to end the game and seal the Hilltoppers victory over the Bears.
The Topper defense held the Bears to just 27 yards rushing but 246 yards receiving with Hunter Klatt earning 82 of those yards.
The Hilltoppers had an outstanding rushing game with 316 total yards. Kopacz led the game with 132 yards. Holmquist had 70 yards, Nick Mrdutt had 59 yards, Billy Norenberg and Tuttle each had 19 yards, Moe had 14 yards and Nathan Mrdutt had three yards.
Nick Mrdutt had a perfect passing game as he completed three passes on three attempts, one to Kopacz for an 84 yard completion and twice to Ramsden for 34 yards.
The Toppers had a total of 434 yards and the Bears had 273 yards.
“Our kids have played very well the past four games. Our focus has not changed from game to game, we want to play physical and disciplined. It will be very important for us to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball this next game,” shared coach Shane Strong.
The Hilltoppers will play their level 3 playoff game in Pepin against the number three seed, Pepin/Alma this Saturday at 2:00 p.m.
The winner of that game will play the winner of the Hilbert versus Owen-Withee game in the final round of playoffs before the state championship.