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Panthers pummel Toppers in first-place D-SC showdown

DURAND — The much anticipated showdown of state-ranked teams for sole possession of first place in the Dunn-St. Croix football standings never materialized into the contest many had expected.

Durand, ranked number seven in Division 5 by the most recent football coaches poll, ran roughshod over Glenwood City, who was rated seventh in the Division 6 state polls, in last Friday’s key contest at Wayne Field in Durand.

The Panthers rang up 506 yards of offense including a whopping 472 yards rushing on 50 attempts as its junior backfield tandem of Josh Biesterveld and Karter Kurth accounted for 316 of those ground yards and all six scores as Durand ended Glenwood City’s perfect season with a 41-22 victory here September 30 to take sole possession of first place in the Dunn-St. Croix football race.

Biesterveld finished with 164 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries while Kurth added another 152 yards and a pair of scores on eight hauls including a 90-yard touchdown run to cap the first-half scoring.

Turnovers and mounting injuries finally proved too much for the Hilltoppers to overcome in last Friday’s game.

Glenwood City, who was already without at least a half dozen front line players and starters entering the contest, lost a pair of fumbles, one of which Durand turned into six points.

The Hilltoppers had lost starting running backs and outside linebackers Darian Multhauf and Jacob Nelson earlier this season to non-contact ACL injuries. Recently added to the list of wounded include Jake O’Meara (concussion), Riley Schutz (fractured tibia) and Marcus Hurtgen and Dakota Dean-Immerman (to shoulder injuries. And to add to the Toppers’ misery and run of bad luck, Jacob Kopacz was hurt late in last Friday’s loss.

“The injuries have really hurt us in all phases,” stated Shane Strong, Glenwood City’s veteran head coach.

“Durand is a very good team, they were more physical than us up front,” added Strong. “We have been forced to move guys into different positions which affects our game planning.”

“But we will not make any excuses,” continued Strong. “Our mentality has been next man step up.”

But with its depleted line up, Glenwood City was just not able to stop Durand’s ground attack.

“We have lost so many starters that you just can’t be as good with inexperienced young men in the line up,” Strong said. “But I’m very proud of our kids this year. They are giving great effort an are very committed to our program.”

Glenwood City, who qualified for the upcoming WIAA playoffs with the victory over Boyceville on September 23, is still in the running for a share of the Dunn-St. Croix conference champion but will have to have some help.

First, the Toppers must beat defending champion Spring Valley whom they host this Friday. If that is not a tall enough order considering their lengthy list of injuries, the Toppers will need Elk Mound to upset Durand this week. Glenwood City, currently 6-1 overall and 4-1 in league play, trail Durand, 6-1 and 4-0, by a half game and hold a game lead over Spring Valley.

Friday’s football contest in Durand got off to a less than auspicious start for the visiting Hilltoppers, who fumbled away the ball on the game’s first offensive play.

The Panthers’ Kyle Abramson recovered at the GC 24.

It took the hosts just five plays to score, capped by Josh Biesterveld’s seven-yard run at the 9:47 mark of the first quarter. Biesterveld also ran in the conversion for a 8-0 Panthers’ lead.

It was the first time this season that Glenwood City had trailed in a game and it never recovered.

The Hilltoppers held on to the ball on its second possession and garnered a first down but eventually punted.

The Panthers would embark on a lengthy 82-yard drive that ended once again in the end zone. Biesterveld had runs of seven, three and 27 yards and quarterback William Berger added a 27-yard jaunt of his own on a fourth-and-four play to move Durand down to the Toppers’ 12 yard line. On the next play, Kurth finished off the drive with a run to paydirt to make it 14-0 at 2:13 after the pass for two fell incomplete.

Faced with mounting adversity, Glenwood City responded with an eight-play, 60 yard scoring drive capped by a 19 yard TD run by junior Jake Kopacz, the first of his two scores, at 11:07 of the second quarter. Peter Hill’s conversion pass to Carson Strong was good as Glenwood City cut its deficit to 14-8.

But Durand responded!

The Panthers took the ensuing kick off and marching 60 yards in a dozen plays for a 21-8 advantage following a 4-yard Biesterveld scoring run and the PAT kick by Lawson Harmon at 7:05.

Glenwood City would get to within seven points with another 8-play 60-yard drive following the Panthers’ score. The Toppers were aided by a roughing the punter call when Jake Logghe was hit and knocked down on the fourth and 13 punt.

It gave Glenwood City a fresh set of downs, and the Toppers would take advantage of it.

Peter Hill and Carson Strong would hook up on a beautiful 32-yard pass play four plays later to give the Toppers a first down at the Panthers’ 12. Kopacz took it to the end zone on the very next play. Although the pass conversion failed, Glenwood City was within 21-14 with 3:51 left in the half.

That would be as close as Glenwood City would get.

It took Durand just two plays to put another six on the scoreboard when Josh Biesterveld broke lose on second down and ran 59 yards for the score at 3:04.

The Toppers moved from its own 36 to the Durand 10 where a fourth down pass from Logghe to Kahler netted just two of the five yards needed to keep the drive alive.

Durand broke the Toppers’ back on the very next play when Karter Kurth took the snap and ran 90 yards virtually untouched for the score with just 57 ticks left in the half. Although the Toppers blocked the extra point kick, they trailed 34-14 at the break.

Glenwood City forced Durand to punt the first offensive possession of the second half.

The Toppers held the ball for just four plays as it turned the ball over on downs after Jake Logghe was stopped for just a yard gain on fourth and 13.

Taking over at the Glenwood City 49, Durand needed just three plays to tack on its sixth and final score of the evening. Kater Kurth’s 20-yard gain set the stage for Josh Biesterveld’s fourth and final score, a 19-yard run across the goal line. Harmon added the kick to make it 41-14 at 7:23 of the third.

Both teams exchanged possession throughout the remainder of the third and well into the fourth quarter.

Glenwood City stopped a four-and-short attempt by Durand at its own 19 to take over with 6:45 left in the game.

The Toppers gained a couple of first downs but eventually found themselves faced with a fourth-and-14. Junior Ethan Kahler swept outside and not only gained the first down yardage but nearly took the football to paydirt, which only a diving Durand tackle .stopped him from scoring. Kahler fell at the Panther two after a 57 yard run. Peter Hill finished the drive off on the next play, taking the quarterback keeper to pay dirt at 2:25. Caleb Peterson added the conversion for a 41-22 final tally.

Kahler led the Toppers with 115 yards on a dozen carries and Kopacz added 95 yards and two scores as the Toppers finished with 235 yards rushing. Peter Hill was two-for-three for 64 yards with both completions going to Carson Strong. Overall the Toppers finished with 302 yards after gaining 199 in the first half.

“It is unfortunate that we are dealing with this adversity,” said Coach Strong about the number and severity of injuries. “But his can be a great learning opportunity for our boys moving into adulthood.”

“We have our hands full right now, missing some many guys, but I’m confident our kids will not go down without a fight!”

Glenwood City…….0     14       0      8 — 22
Durand……………14      20      7     0 — 41

First Quarter:
DUR — Josh Biesterveld 7-yd. run (Josh Biesterveld run), 9:47.
DUR — Karter Kurth 12-yd. run (pass failed), 2:13.

Second Quarter:
GC — Jacob Kopacz 19-yd. run (Carson Strong pass from Peter Hill), 11:07.
DUR — Josh Biesterveld 4-yd. run (Lawson Harmon kick), 7:05.
GC — Jacob Kopacz 12-yd. run (pass failed), 3:51.
DUR — Josh Biesterveld 59-yd. run (Harmon kick), 3:04.
DUR — Karter Kurth 90-yd. run (kick blocked), 0:57.

Third Quarter:
DUR — Josh Biesterveld 19-yd. run (Harmon kick), 7:23.

Fourth Quarter:
GC — Peter Hill 2-yd. run (Caleb Peterson run), 2:25.

Individual Statistics

Passing (att-comp-int-yds) — GC (3-5-0-66 yds.)  — Peter Hill 2-3 for 64 yds.; Jacob Logghe 1-2 for 2 yds. DUR — (2-7-0-34 yds.) — William Berger 1-5 for 17 yds.; TJ Tulip 1-2 for 17 yds.

Receiving (rec-yds) — GC — Carson Strong  2 for 64 yds.; Ethan Kahler 1 for 2 yds. DUR — Josh Biesterveld 1 for 17 yds.; Karter Kurth 1 for 17 yds.

Rushing (att-yds) — GC (49-235 yds.) — Jacob Kopacz 23 for 95 yds., 2 TDs; Carson Strong 5 for 7 yds.; Ethan Kahler 12 for 115 yds.; Peter Hill 8 for 17 yds., TD. DUR  (50-472 yds.) — Josh Biesterveld 14 for 164 yds., 4 TDs; Karter Kurth 8 for 152 yds., 2 TDs; William Berger 11 for 66 yds.; Dustin Paje 3 for 29 yds.; Adayre Glaus 6 for 18 yds.