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Second half spells doom for Mounders in loss to Hilltoppers

ELK MOUND — After ending the first half in an 8-8 tie, the Elk Mound football team allowed the Glenwood City Hilltoppers to score 14 unanswered points in the second half, resulting in a 22-8 loss on their home field Friday, Sept. 12.

After the Hilltoppers gained three first downs on their opening drive to start the game, the Mounder defense stiffened as they sacked Topper quarterback Nick Schone for a four yard loss then tipped a pass attempt to force a punt.

Taking over at their own 25, Mounder quarterback Dane Lew ran for 12 yards and a first down, but three straight running plays by Mounder running backs netted just six yards and Elk Mound punted the ball back to Glenwood City.

A good return by Bill Norenberg gave the Toppers a short field, starting at the Mounder’s 45 and on three running plays and an 11-yard pass completion, Norenberg crossed the goal line from seven yards out and the two point run by Nate Mrdutt gave the Toppers an 8-0 lead.

Lew was intercepted on the Mounders next possession but the defense held as they forced another Topper punt early in the second quarter.

Starting on their own 20, the Mounders put their best drive of the game together as Lew, Noah Zurbuchen and Hunter Adleman took turns running and moved the ball down field to the Toppers’ 10. After Lew and Adleman were both stuffed for no gain, Lew found Cole Tyman for a nine-yard pass completion and Zurbuchen plowed into the end zone for the score. Zurbuchen then crossed the goal line for the two-point conversion to knot the score. The drive took nearly eight minutes off the clock.

After allowing the Toppers to move from their own 40 to the Mounders’ 12 yard line on the following possession, Elk Mound’s defense rose to the occasion again as they forced the Toppers’ QB Schone out of bounds on a fourth and two for no gain and the half ended with the 8-8 score.

It appeared the Mounders had some momentum heading into the second half as they started at their own 35 and on a third and 15, Lew connected with Colin Svee for a 44-yard completion down the right sideline to the Toppers’ 26. But the running game failed to penetrate the Glenwood City defense and on fourth and two, Lew came up a yard short on a keeper, giving the ball back to the Toppers.

The Mounders forced yet another Toppers’ punt but an interception thrown by Lew gave the ball back and Glenwood City took advantage of the turnover.

After three penalties were called on them, the Hilltoppers converted a fourth and one. Then Mrdutt scored on a one-yard plunge to go with a two point pass conversion from Schone to Mitch Hurtgen to take a 16-8 lead.

Zurbuchen was the workhorse on the Mounder’s next possession, running four times for 42 yards including a 22 yard gain but they ended up giving the ball back after two incomplete passes.

Glenwood City then put the game away with a 70-yard drive — all on the ground — with Mrdutt finding pay dirt on a 14-yard run with 2:32 left in the game.

Elk Mound made another attempt to add points as Lew found Jon Storing for an eight-yard pass completion followed by another five-yard pass to Svee. On fourth and three, it looked like the Mounders had a first down until an official measurement proved otherwise and the Toppers took the ball over on downs.

After forcing one last Topper punt, the game ended on a final completion from Lew to Svee for 12 yards.

“Our plan coming into the game was to execute, not make mistakes on offense and to slow them down with our defense,” Elk Mound coach Dave Lew said. “Glenwood likes to play power football and we wanted to hang with them but our game plan didn’t work out the way we wanted. I give a lot of credit to them. They come off the ball hard, they hit hard and they are fast and well coached. They hit harder than we did tonight and we had a couple of mistakes that hurt us and with a young team,we have to live with those mistakes and keep coaching to make ourselves a better team,” he added.

Zurbuchen surpassed the 100 yard rushing mark with 108 on 17 carries while Lew added 36 yards on nine attempts and Adleman netted two yards on five carries. Lew completed six of 15 passes for 82 yards with Svee gathering in three of them for 60 yards, Storing snared two for 13 yards and Tyman one for nine yards. The Hilltoppers were led by Mrdutt with 93 rushing yards on 19 attempts.

Elk Mound will take their 0-4 record and make a long trek to Port Edwards this Friday, Sept. 19 for a 4:00 p.m. non-conference game.

“We will see if we can turn this ship around a bit,” coach Lew said. “We told our kids we are not a bad team but we have a lot of things we need to clean up. We have to find a way to make them believe in themselves”.