GLENWOOD CITY — Missed opportunities always seem to come back to haunt you.
Such was the case for Glenwood City’s football team here last Friday when it hosted the defending conference champion Durand Panthers.
Six times the Hilltoppers were able to penetrate the Durand 20 or beyond only to come up empty-handed on their first five forays into the Panthers’ red zone.
Those missed scoring chances coupled with a few big, first-half plays against an otherwise stout Toppers’ defense – a punt return for touchdown and a long pass for another score – provided Durand with its margin of victory as the Panthers posted a 24-6 road win over Glenwood City September 29.
“I felt our kids played very good defense Friday night,” said Glenwood City head coach Shane Strong. “We had a few breakdowns in coverage, but for the most part we played hard and good assignment football.”
While the Hilltoppers were able to move the ball effectively between the 20s, the offense seemed to bog down once the goal line was in sight.
“We are not consistent enough in our running game this year,” noted Strong.
“Our biggest issue has been converting on third down and consistently blocking our assignments in the running game. We are running the same offensive plays we have for years, but we just are not executing our blocking schemes.”
While the scoreboard may indicate otherwise, the conference contest was even played statistically-speaking.
The Toppers and Panthers were nearly dead even in time of possession and within 50 yards of one another in total offensive production as Durand held a 303 to 255 yard advantage. The Panthers passed for 107 compared to 87 yards for the Hilltoppers and had a 196 to 168 edge in rushing yards.
The Panthers Josh Biesterveld led Durand and all rushers with 125 yards on 15 carries while Toppers’ senior Jacob Kopacz broke free for 98 yards including a 47-yard jaunt in the third quarter on the same number of carries to finish as Glenwood City’s top ground gainer.
Mondovi put a quick score on the board less than two minutes into contest.
After forcing Glenwood City into a three and out on the game’s first offensive possession, Panthers’ senior Josh Biesterveld fielded Triton Postle’s punt and returned it 68 yards for a touchdown with just 1:56 gone off the game clock. Biesterveld then took the conversion hand-off and ran it in for two points and a quick 8-0 Durand advantage.
Following a nice 28-yard kick-off return by Ethan Kahler that set the Toppers up at its own 41, the team embarked on a 13-play, five-minute drive to the Durand 11 before turning the ball over on downs after back-to-back pass incompletions by quarterback Pete Hill on third and fourth downs.
Glenwood City would force Durand to punt on the next possession.
Taking over at its own 20, Glenwood City once again moved the ball well with 14-yard runs by Kopacz and Jake Nelson and a 20-yard pass and catch from Hill to Kopacz that took the team to the Durand 20.
But the drive, which had consumed the final 1:32 of the first quarter and nearly four and a half minutes of the second, stalled and died with another pair of incompletions on third and fourth downs.
The Panthers gained a first down on three straight runs after taking possession but were quickly faced with a third and 11. That’s when Durand quarterback TJ Tulip found an open Josh Biesterveld who made the catch and sprinted 68 yards for the touchdown with 4:26 to play in the first half. Tulip threw a good conversion pass to Ceejay Schlooser giving the Panthers a 16-0 lead.
After forcing the Toppers to punt, the Panthers looked to put more points on the board before the first half expired.
Durand moved from its 32 to the GC 11 yard line before Carson Strong intercepted Tulip’s third down pass at the one and returned it 16 yards to effectively end the threat and the half.
Glenwood City forced Durand to punt to open the second half. Strong’s 23 yard return put the Toppers in business at the Panthers’ 32. Glenwood City gained a first down at the 20 but managed just six more yards on three straight running plays before turning the ball back over to Durand on another incompletion.
Durand found itself in a fourth and one situation at its own 23 and decided to go for broke. Biesterveld was hit behind the line of scrimmage by Kopacz and the Toppers took over on the Durand 22.
Kopacz picked up six yards on a second-down run but two more incompletions on third and fourth downs gave Durand the ball at its own 16.
Biesterveld took the first-down handoff and ran 35 yards to mid-field but that was as far as the Toppers would allow the drive to go as Glenwood City forced a Panthers’ punt.
The Toppers provided some fireworks to close out the third quarter, Kopacz ran 47 yards to the Durand 14 and Dakota Dean-Immerman pushed for eight yards on the next play to give Glenwood City a second and two from the Durand six to open the fourth and final quarter.
But the yardage came hard after that. Jake Nelson picked two yards and the first down at the four but runs of two and one yard by Dean-Immerman and Kopacz left the Toppers with two plays to gain a yard and the goal line. Glenwood City could do neither as Hill was stuffed for no gain on the quarterback keeper and the Toppers were hit with a 5-yard illegal motion penalty to make it fourth and six before Hill’s pass attempt hit the ground incomplete.
Durand had staved off yet another potential Toppers’ scoring threat.
Taking over at its own six, Durand marched 94-yards in 12 plays for the Panthers final score – a 7-yard scoring run by QB TJ Tulip with 3:52 to play. Tulip tossed the conversion pass to Brittan Sabelko to make it 24-0.
Undaunted by the score or remaining time, Glenwood City once again moved deep into Durand territory using the passing game.
Strong caught three of Hill’s four pass completions including a 24-yard reception that gave the Hilltoppers a first-and-goal on the Durand one. Hill crashed across the goal line on the ensuing down for the Toppers’ first score with 1:31 to play.
Tucker Lagerstrom’s onside kick was recovered by Durand who ran out the remaining time for the win.
The loss puts the Toppers playoff aspiration in a tenuous position. With a 2-3 mark in the conference standings, Glenwood City will need to do what no one else has done so far this season to qualify for a playoff spot – beat Spring Valley. The Toppers (4-3) will travel to Spring Valley this Friday, October 6 to face the 7-0 Redbirds.
DURAND 24, GLENWOOD CITY 8
Glenwood City………………0 0 0 8 — 8
Durand ……………………..8 8 0 8 — 24
DUR — J. Biesterveld 68-yd. punt return (J. Biesterveld run), 10:04.
DUR — J. Biesterveld 68-yd. pass from TJ Tulip (C. Schlosser pass from Tulip), 4:26.
DUR — TJ Tulip 7-yd. run (B. Sabelko pass from Tulip), 3:52; GC — P. Hill 1-yd. run (kick failed), 1:31.
Passing (att-comp-yds-int): GC (7-18-87-0) — P. Hill 7-18-87-0; DUR (6-11-107-1) — TJ Tulip 5-10-96-1, J. Biesterveld 1-1-11-0.
Rushing (att-yds): GC (41-168) — J. Kopacz 15-98, J, Nelson 14-34, D. Dean -Immerman 5-18, C. Strong 2-12; DUR (38-196) — J. Biesterveld 15-125, TJ Tulip 11-35, B. Ingli 2-24.
Receiving (rec-yds): GC (7-87) — C. Strong 3-44, J. Kopacz 2-25; DUR (6-107) — J. Biesterveld 1-68, C. Schlosser 2-15, B. Sabelko 1-15.