GLENWOOD CITY — With both teams holding a 2-0 record with wins over non-conference opponents, the Elk Mound football team invaded the Glenwood City football stadium Sept. 4 with the intention of using their running game to come up with a conference win and remain unbeaten.
The plan worked pretty well as they rushed for 250 yards including 168 by Noah Zurbuchen to earn a hard fought 23-0 win over the Hilltoppers.
“Other teams all know we are going to run the ball,” a rather wet coach Dave Lew said after the game. (The win happened to be his first conference win in his third season as head coach, resulting in a dumping of the proverbial water bucket over his head by his seniors.)
“It was up to our linemen to take control and allow us to pound the ball on the ground and they were up to the task tonight.”
After starting at their own 28-yard line, Zurbuchen picked up a first down to move the ball to the 48, but a pair of penalties moved them backwards resulting in a punt.
The Toppers kept the ball on the ground themselves and moved it from their own 32 to the Mounders’ 47, collecting two first downs before the Mounders’ defense stuffed a run on third down, forcing the Toppers to punt it back.
Mounders’ quarterback Dane Lew connected with Colin Svee for a nine-yard pass reception and a first down, but the next three plays netted minus three yards and the ball was booted right back to Glenwood City and a minute later the quarter ended with a pair of goose eggs on the scoreboard.
The Toppers’ offense was again shut down, with Cole Tyman coming up with a big defensive play, tackling the runner for a four-yard loss.
After another Toppers’ punt, Elk Mound took over at it’s own 15. A Zurbuchen run and a five-yard pass to Svee moved the ball to the 25 and on third down, Zurbuchen broke a tackle in the middle of the line and burst down the left sideline for a 75-yard score. Before Glenwood City had time to recover, Zurbuchen ran the two-point conversion in for an 8-0 lead with 8:58 left in the half.
The Mounders’ defense showed the ability to bend but not break as they allowed the Toppers to move from their own three-yard line down to the Mounders’ 30 with less then a minute left, but Teegan Peterson batted a fourth-down pass attempt away to end the threat and send the Mounders into the break with their eight point lead.
“That was a big defensive stop for us,” Lew said. “Glenwood has a great offense and they were moving through us. We needed to make a big play to stop the drive.”
After the Toppers started the second half with another drive, moving from their own 40 to the Mounders’ 37, Elk Mound’s defense came up big again as they smothered the Glenwood City ball carrier for a six-yard loss on third down, forcing another punt.
But the Mounders didn’t get far themselves as Lew tossed up an interception on second down and the Toppers took over on their own 49.
But nothing was hurt as the Mounders stopped a couple of runs and Alex Hollister broke up a pass in between, forcing the Toppers to punt again.
The third quarter ended with Elk Mound still hanging on to the eight-point lead but they were in the middle of a drive and ended up on the Topper 15 before a fourth-down pass fell incomplete and the ball went back to Glenwood City.
On a third and nine from the Mounders’ 44, Toppers’ quarterback Nick Schone threw a deep pass to the left side of the field. Svee, who had knocked down two passes earlier in the drive, made sure this one didn’t get away as he snared it and took it to the house from 63 yards out, and with Zurbuchen’s run, it was suddenly 16-0 with 5:28 left in the contest.
On the Toppers’ next possession, they were forced to go to the air, and another big defensive play by the Mounders came about when Peterson picked off another pass at the Toppers’ 38-yard line.
After a Zurbuchen run, it was time for Tyler Sahm to show his stuff as he ran four times, hurdling a would be tackler on a 13-yard gain, and he took it in from the 20 to seal the win with 1:47 left. Lew booted the extra point to finish off the scoring and both teams allowed the reserves to get on the field the rest of the game.
“This was a well played game between two good teams,” coach Lew said. “It came down to who wanted to win bad enough and who came up with big plays. Our kids are starting to believe in themselves and they are playing with more confidence and we need that for every game,” he added.
Along with Zurbuchen’s 168 rushing yards, Sahm added 37 while Lew ran for 20. Lew was 2 for 7 passing with both completions to Svee.The Toppers collected 183 yards on the ground with at least five different players running the ball.
Elk Mound will return home this Friday for another non-conference game against Flambeau, while Glenwood City travels to Colfax.