By Kelsie Hoitomt
MONDOVI – After trailing 22-8 at halftime, the Hilltopper football team kicked it into high gear in the second half with two touchdowns scored to tie the game.
They prevailed in overtime play with a touchdown and two-point conversion to win over the Mondovi Buffaloes 30-22.
The game started off with a touchdown by the Hilltoppers from the one yard line. Nathan Mrdutt carried in the ball for the score and then Nick Schone connected with Jake O’Meara for the two-point conversion at 10:14.
Three minutes ran off the clock before the Buffaloes answered back with a run play into the end zone by Colton Berg. Jake Ede tossed the ball up to Boe Olson for the two-point conversion play, which tied the game at 8-8.
From that point, the game changed and the Toppers seemed to fall apart as a team as they allowed Mondovi to score two unanswered touchdowns.
At 4:55 in the first quarter, Ede hit Sawyer Hayes in the back field and he took off for a 55 yard touchdown run to put the score at 14-8.
Nearly 15 minutes of play went by with the Topper’s defense holding steady until Ede snuck in a pass to Hayes, which resulted in another touchdown run.
Berg hit the end zone for the conversion play with 1:26 to go in the half.
After the half, an improved Topper team emerged onto the gridiron, which turned things around from a 14 point deficit to a tied ball game.
After six minutes of play in the third quarter, the Toppers marched the ball towards the end zone and Schone hit Todd Petersen for a six yard touchdown pass.
Again the two connected for the conversion play, which put the Toppers behind by just one score.
The third quarter ended with the game tied after Schone tossed up a pass to Petersen and he ran the ball down the field and into the end zone for a 41 yard play.
The Toppers had the chance to take a lead, but their conversion play was unsuccessful and that set the game into over time due to a stalemate in the final quarter.
With the clock now set for over time play, the Toppers started off with the ball in their possession first.
They ran four straight plays and then with two yards to go, Schone held onto the ball for a touchdown. Jake Nelson carried in the two point conversion, which put the Toppers up 30-22.
Now with a lead, it was the defense’s job to stop the Buffaloes. The Toppers gave up 11 yards on the first play and then Schone took the wind out of their sails with an interception in the end zone to solidify the victory.
“We played very well as a team Friday night. We gave up a couple of big plays in the first half, but made some adjustments at halftime that led to a shut-out on defense in the second half,” said coach Shane Strong.
In football terms, the game ball went to Nathan Mrdutt for his performance on both sides of the ball. He rushed for 111 yards and recorded 16 tackles on defense for the Toppers.
As a team, the Toppers had a total of 123 rushing yards with the rest going to Nelson who had six, Schone had five and O’Meara had one.
Their passing game was the high point with 249 total yards thrown by Schone. He may have had three interceptions, but he still shined with 26 completed passes and two touchdown throws.
On the receiving end was Petersen with 103 yards on eight receptions for an average of 12.9 yards per catch.
Following him was Jake Hierlmeier with 48 yards on six receptions. Then it was Mitch Hurtgen with 40 yards on four carries, Nelson had 30 yards on two carries, Mrdutt had 16 yards on one carry and O’Meara had 12 yards on five carries.
As for Mondovi, they finished with 148 yards of receiving with Ede completing eight out of 11 attempts. Hayes led in receptions with four for 128 yards.
On the ground, the Buffaloes ran the ball for 178 yards and Ede led the team after keeper plays for 76 yards.
The Toppers next contest will be against Boyceville this Friday, October 3 at home starting at 7:00 p.m.