Toppers’ turnovers doom post-season hopes

SPRING VALLEY — The Hilltoppers’ football team knew it had a tough assignment last Friday.

In order to qualify for the WIAA playoffs later this month, Glenwood City would need to do what no other team has yet been able to – defeat Spring Valley.

To achieve that, it would need a nearly flawless performance.

Unfortunately, just the opposite occurred.

[emember_protected] Glenwood City suffered eight, back-breaking turnovers when it traveled to Spring Valley for the October 6 Dunn-St. Croix showdown.

The Cardinals converted three into touchdowns as the Hilltoppers post-season hopes were washed away with a 30-8 heart-wrenching loss on the rain-soaked turf in Spring Valley.

Despite standing toe-to-toe with it’s unbeaten opponent, the self-inflicted faux paus were more than Glenwood City (4-4 overall) could overcome as it finished the conference schedule at 2-4, eliminating the squad from playoff consideration.

Meanwhile Spring Valley, now 5-0 and 8-0, kept its perfect season intact and will take it’s high-powered ground game on the road to Elk Mound this Friday to face the Mounders, who are also 5-0 in conference play, for the 2017 Dunn-St. Croix gridiron championship.

Glenwood City will wrap up its  season when it hosts Spencer/Columbus Catholic, ranked fifth in the latest Division 5 online coaches poll, for a non-conference contest this Friday, October 13. Spencer/CC is 7-1 with its only loss coming at the hands of second-ranked and Cloverbelt leader Stanley-Boyd. 

The Toppers’ misques came early and often – six in the first half alone – and set the tone for their contest versus the Cardinals.

On the game’s opening kick off, what appeared to be an unintentional onside boot by Spring Valley, glanced off the outstretched hands of one of Glenwood City’s front lineman. The Cardinals’ Kenny Fesenmaier pounced on the live ball at the Toppers’ 44.

Spring Valley ran the ball nine straight times capped by quarterback Aaron Borgerding’s eight-yard keeper for the game’s first touchdown at the 8:26 mark of the opening quarter. Tyson Kado kicked the point after through the uprights to give Spring Valley a 7-0 advantage.

The Hilltoppers, however, looked to make a game of it when they took the ensuing kick off and marched 59 yards to pay dirt in just five plays, highlighted by senior Jacob Kopacz’ 49-yard scoring burst down the near sideline. GC quarterback Pete Hill found Kopac open on the conversion pass for two points and Glenwood City lead 8-6 with 6:20 to play in the first.

The Hilltoppers lead, its only one in the game, was shortlived.

Cardinals’ running back Jaydon Nyeggen carried the ball on five of his team’s ensuing six-play scoring drive which ended with Nyeggen scampering 40 yard to put Spring Valley back in front with 3:19 still left in the first. Borgerding hit Kado with the conversion pass and the home Cardinals were up 15-8.

Senior Jake Nelson kicked off the next Glenwood City drive with an 18 yard run. The Toppers eventually drove to the Cards’ 24 before Hill’s fourth and 13 pass attempt was intercepted by Aaron Borgerding in the end zone for a touchback.

The Cardinals would take the next drive to the Toppers’ 30 before Borgerding threw an incompletion on fourth down, giving the ball back to Glenwood City on downs.

But just three plays later Borgerding snared his second interception of a Hill pass at mid-field.

Carson Strong returned the favor, intercepting a Borgerding pass five plays later with just 1:48 left in the first half of play.

But on the next play, Glenwood City mishandled the snap and the ball came free. SV’s Kenny Fesenmaier was once again “Johnny on the spot” and cradled the recovery at the Toppers 25.    

Five plays later Borgerding connected with Brenden Williams for a 16-yard touchdown pass with just 45 ticks left on the clock. The pair hooked up again on the conversion pass and Spring Valley led 23-8.

The Cardinals nearly added another score just before the halftime.

Pete Hill was hit hard while dropping back to pass causing him to fumble. Spring Valley’s Nick Hofacker picked up the loose pigskin and rambled nearly 50 yards for an apparent score. But a chop block during run back by the Cards, negated the TD and placed the ball at the GC 25.

Marcus Hurtgen sacked Borgerding on the next play for an 11-yard loss and the Toppers’ stopped the next Valley run as first-half time expired. Unfortunately, GC was flagged for a horse-collar infraction on the tackle. That gave Spring Valley an untimed down and Borgerding nearly completed a pass into the end zone.

Spring Valley took the second half kick and drove into Hilltoppers’ territory before GC’s Tanner Davis recovered a Borgerding fumble to end the SV threat.

Glenwood City however could do little to move the ball and had to punt after three plays.

A promising drive early in the fourth quarter again ended in a turnover for the Toppers when the Cardinals’ Zach Williams got on top of a Kopacz fumble at the Spring Valley 33.

Glenwood City would get the ball back with just under six minutes to play. But two plays into the possession, Tyson Kado intercepted Hill’s pass and returned it 36 yards for the pick six at 4:59. Kado added the PAT kick for the what would be the final point in the Valley’s 30-8 win.

The Toppers final drive ended when Hill was intercepted for a fourth time. Craigen Anderson of Spring Valley corralled Hill’s throw to the end zone for the touchback.

GC finished with 220 total yards to Spring Valley’s 297. Jaydon Nyeggen topped all rushers with 160 yards and a score on 32 carries. The Toppers were led by Kopacz who finished with 87 yards on 13 hauls and the team’s lone score.

Glenwood City………..  8    0    0    0 — 8
Spring Valley…………..15    8    0    7 — 30

First quarter
SV — A. Borgerding 8-yd. run (T. Kado kick), 8:26; GC — J. Kopacz 49-yd. run (J. Kopacz pass from P. Hill), 6:20; SV — J. Nyeggen 40-yd. run (T. Kado pass from A. Borgerding), 3:19.

Second quarter
SV — B. Williams 16-yd. pass from A. Borgerding (B. Williams pass from A. Borgerding), 0:45.

Fourth quarter
SV — T. Kado 36-yd. interception return (T. Kado kick), 4:59.

Individual Statistics

Passing (att-comp-yds-int): GC (2-13-51-4) — P. Hill 2-13-51-4; SV (1-6-16-1) — A. Borgerding 1-6-16-1, 1 TD.

Rushing (att-yds): GC (32-169) — J. Kopacz 13-87 (TD), D. Dean-Immerman 6-53, J. Nelson 7-34, C. Strong 2-3, P. Hill 4-(-8); SV  (65-281) — J. Nyeggen 32-160 (TD), T. Kado 9-56, A. Borgerding 15-36 (TD), J. Rielly 4-16, B. Williams 3-13.

Receiving (rec-yds): GC (2-51) — J. Kopaz 1-36, C. Strong 1-15; SV (1-16) — B. Williams 1-16 (TD). [/emember_protected]