By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY – It was almost exactly a year ago that Elk Mound beat the Hilltoppers on their own field 28-12 and the year before that was the same story. However, last Friday night the Toppers gained the upper hand and crushed the Mounders on their home turf 62-26.
“This year we have emphasized coming out of the gates running our race. We are a fast team, so we want to come out fast,” said coach Shane Strong.
And fast they were, with not even two minutes off the clock in the first quarter the Toppers put the ball in the endzone on a ten yard run by their lead rusher, Isaac Tuttle. A quick run by Nathan Mrdutt for the two-point conversion would put the score at 8-0.
The Mounders wouldn’t hold the ball in their possession for very long as the Toppers’ defense stopped them at fourth down and one yard to go. The Toppers would take over on downs on their own 25 yard line.
The next play would see yet another touchdown by Tuttle for over 50 yards. This time Nick Mrdutt would set up to kick the extra point, which was good to put the game at 15-0.
The Mounders were able to put the ball in the air the next drive and get past the Toppers, which allowed Austin Hanson to score the touchdown. The kick by Ryan Mueller was good to put the score at 15-7.
It took about 30 seconds for the Hilltoppers to answer back after Tuttle ran the ball nearly the entire length of the football field for a punt return touchdown, stiff arming the defenders the whole way. The kick by Mrdutt was good again to put the Toppers further ahead 22-7 with three minutes left in the quarter.
Before the first quarter ended, the Mounders attempted to run the ball down the field, but made little progress until they tossed it into the air, which resulted in a touchdown by Dane Lew. The extra point was no good so the first quarter scored was 22-13.
The Toppers started with the ball in the second quarter. Nick Mrdutt had a 22 yard run, which brought the team within scoring distance. He held onto the ball again the following play for his first touchdown of the game. The kick was no good, but the Toppers were still ahead 28-13.
The Mounders were shut down pretty hard on their possession after Jake O’Meara laid a big hit on the punt returner, which started their drive on their own ten yard line.
The Toppers’ defensive line held them to fourth down and eight yards to go, which forced the Mounders to punt.
Tuttle and Jeff Kopacz would carry the ball down the field to within scoring distance. Then it was Blayze Wood who scored his first touchdown of the year for the Hilltoppers. The kick was no good, but the Toppers were still ahead 34-13 with four minutes left in the first half.
The Mounders would then score after a flag on the Toppers and a pass play. Tuttle shut down the Mounders on their extra point attempt after he blocked the kick.
With less than a minute on the clock, a huge run by Wood and a 25 yard pass from Mrdutt to Kopacz would put the Toppers on the two yard line. Tuttle held onto the ball for the touchdown and the two-point conversion for a score of 42-19 at halftime.
The Hilltoppers’ defense came out strong in the second half of the game as they shut down the Mounders’ offense in three straight plays with zero yards gained after the kick off.
The Toppers would take the punt return to the 42 yard line. A run to the 34 yard line would bring out the referees for an official measurement, which would be good for a Hilltopper first down.
Tuttle would then find an opening to the left side of the end zone for his fifth touchdown of the game. Mrdutt’s kick was good to put the Toppers ahead of Elk Mound, 49-19.
The Mounders would come up empty on their following drive after pressure by Jake Hierlmeier and Brennan Kessler forced the passes to fall incomplete.
The Toppers would start their possession on the 46 yard line and a run by Tuttle put the ball on the 28 yard line. A run by Kopacz and a first down by Billy Norenberg would put the ball within ten yards of the goal.
Then with it at fourth down and one yard to go, a time-out was called by the Hilltoppers. The play was then executed and successful for the first down. Kopacz then carried the ball four yards for the touchdown.
The kick was good, which put the score at 56-19 and then the clock began to continuously run due to the 35 point difference.
The fourth quarter would begin with the Mounders on the 48. A big pass and an interference call on the Toppers would put the Mounders in the endzone for their final touchdown of the game. The kick was good and the clock would go back to running normally.
This was short lived as Tuttle put the ball in the end zone on the Toppers’ next possession, which was good for his sixth and final touchdown of the game.
The clock would then run down till it hit zero with the Toppers on the field and the ball in their possession.
The Hilltoppers had a total of 447 rushing yards against the Mounders and 32 receiving yards. They allowed Elk Mound 168 receiving yards and 138 rushing.
“We are very pleased with our run defense, but the past two weeks our pass defense has not been acceptable to our standards. Our kids will come up and make a big play in the secondary, but then we give up a big play. We have good hard working kids there, we just need to get more consistency and I know they will be up for that challenge,” said Strong.
Tuttle led the game in rushing yards with 236 on 12 attempts. He currently has 716 total rushing yards this year with four games played. He also had three kick returns for 143 yards with the one touchdown included.
Kopacz had a solid game himself with 106 rushing yards and 28 receiving yards. Nick Mrdutt followed with 59 rushing yards, Nathan Mrdutt had 24 yards, Nick Schone and Norenberg had six, Marcus Ullom had five and Wood had two. And Richard Ross had four yards receiving.
As quarterback, Mrdutt had two completions on five attempts for the 32 yards
“Tuttle is an exceptionally skilled player. His speed and vision is amazing to watch. Kopacz and Mrdutt have great skills as well, which makes us very versatile, said Strong. “Coming into the season we had three key spots in our offensive line to fill and those kids have done an outstanding job. Our offensive line may be the best line I’ve coached in 16 years at this point in the season”.