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GC football falls to Spencer/CC in season finale

GLENWOOD CITY — On an evening when Glenwood City honored its three state titlist teams and parents, the current rendition of the Hilltoppers’ football team played like its championship predecessors, battling  state-ranked Spencer/Columbus Catholic tooth and nail throughout the first half of last Friday’s regular season finale.

The Hilltoppers trailed the Rockets, ranked fifth in a recent Division 5 poll, by just seven points at the intermission, 20-13.

But three second-half turnovers by the Hilltoppers coupled with the running of Spencer/Columbus Catholic’s 6’ 2”, 225- pound senior Hunter Luepke and the Rockets complimentary passing game doomed Glenwood City’s hopes of an upset.

After rushing for two touchdowns in the first half, Luepke, who is headed for North Dakota State University next year, used his size, strength and speed to score three more times in the second half and propelled the Rockets to a streak of 24 unanswered points and a 44-21 non-conference win in Glenwood City October 13.

Luepke finished with 232 of Spencer/CC’s 347 rushing yards and five of the team’s seven game scores. The Rockets also added another 203 yards through the air to finish with 550 total yards compared to 277 for the Hilltoppers, who ran for 238 yards.

Jake Nelson valiantly tried to counter the Luepke effect as the Glenwood City senior rushed 18 times for 128 yards and a touchdown to led the Toppers in his final football game. Nelson also registered a first half interception. Fellow senior Jake Kopacz also snared an interception and chipped in 46 yards running the ball and junior Dakota Dean-Immerman tallied 65 yard and a score on 16 running attempts.

The Hilltoppers knew they would need a stout defensive effort to stop Luepke and the Rockets.

And that is what they got in the game’s first offensive series.

Twice the Toppers’ defense threw the Rockets’ runners for a loss in the first five plays including a two-yard loss by Luepke on a fourth-and-six run attempt from the GC 36.

Unfortunately, Glenwood City could not muster a first down and had to punt.

After taking over on its own 28 and following a first-down incompletion, Luepke ripped off a 72-yard run to pay dirt. Colton Schillinger made good on the PAT kick to put Spencer/CC on top 7-0 at the 7:53 mark of the first quarter.

Glenwood City suffered another three-and-out on its second offensive try.

Just three plays after punting the ball back to the Rockets, the Toppers watched as Spencer’s quarterback Jarred Mandel hit a wide open Hayden Bauman with a touchdown pass that covered 57 yards at 5:15. Schillinger booted the ball through the uprights for a 14-0 Rockets advantage.

To add injury to insult, Glenwood City senior Carson Strong suffered a knee injury during the Toppers’ ensuing offense possession and would not return to the contest.

But the Hilltoppers persevered, driving the ball 69-yards in 12 plays, highlighted by Jacob Kopacz’ 25 yard jaunt and capped by a seven-yard pass from quarterback Pete Hill to Jake Nelson for the locals first six points just two plays and 43 seconds into the second quarter. Tucker Lagerstrom made good on his extra-point kick and the Toppers trailed 14-7.

The Toppers defense would again rise to the occasion and force the Rockets to punt.

Starting at their own 29, Nelson took the first-down hand off from Hill and raced 71 yards for Glenwood City’s second score.

Suddenly, with 7:19 left in the half, Glenwood City pulled to within a point of Spencer and had a chance to knot the score at 14 but the Rockets broke through the line to block Lagerstrom’s PAT kick.

Spencer would push the margin back to seven on its next offense opportunity as Luepke finished a quick three-play drive with a three-yard run. GC blocked the kick to leave Spencer with a 20-13 halftime lead. Mandel, the Rockets signal caller, opened that drive with an 18-yard pass to Luepke and followed with a 33 yard completion to Hayden Bauman coupled with a horse-collar penalty on the Toppers, which gave Spencer a first-and-goal at the GC three.

Jake Nelson intercepted a pass on the GC 15 late in the first half to ground a potential Rockets’ score.

Glenwood City, however, could not hold back the potent Spencer offense or Luepke in the second half.

Luepke score three times as the Rockets put 12 points on the board in each of the remaining two quarters of play.

After Glenwood City had to punt the opening drive of the second half, Luepke scored on a 27-yard run to make the game 26-13.

After the Toppers and Rockets exchanged interceptions on back-to-back plays, Luepke broke free for another touchdown run this from 68 yards out that gave the visitors a 32-13 lead.

Glenwood City lost a fumble on a promising drive which turned into yet another Luepke rushing touchdown and had the Rockets ahead 38-13 with 7:33 left in the game.

Glenwood City fumbled the ensuing kick off and five plays later Carson Hildebrandt scored on a two-yard run to give the Rockets its final score.

The Hilltoppers offense would final hold the ball long enough to put together a nice drive that put the game’s final points on the board. Dakota Dean-Immerman crashed across the goal line from a yard out with 1:30 to play. Dean-Immerman ran the conversion in for two-point to make the final 44-21.

Glenwood City finished the season 4-5, dropping its final three games of the year to some very strong competition. 

Glenwood City……….0   13     0     8 — 21
Spencer/CC…………14     6   12   12 — 44

First quarter
S/CC — H. Luepke 72-yd. run (C. Schillinger kick), 7:53; S/CC — H. Bauman 57-yd. pass from J. Mandel (C. Schillinger kick), 5:15.

Second quarter
GC — J. Nelson 7-yd. pass from P. Hill (T. Lagerstrom kick), 11:17; GC — J. Nelson 71-yd. run (kick blocked), 7:19; S/CC — H. Luepke 3-yd. run (kick blocked), 6:33.

Third quarter
S/CC — H. Luepke 3-yd. run (pass failed), 7:36; S/CC — H. Luepke 68-yd. run (pass failed), 3:33.

Fourth quarter
S/CC — H. Luepke 3-yd. run (kick blocked), 7:33; S/CC — C. Hildebrandt 2-yd. run (kick blocked), 5:13; GC — D. Dean-Immerman 1-yd. run (D. Dean-Immerman run), 1:30.

Individual Statistics

Passing (att-comp-yds-int): GC (4-5-39-1) — P. Hill 4-4-39-1, TD; J. Kopacz 0-1-0-0. S/CC (7-12-203-2) — J. Mandel 7-12-203-2, TD.

Rushing (att-yds): GC (51-238) — J. Nelson 18-128, TD; D. Dean-Immerman 16-65, TD; J. Kopacz 15-46. S/CC (32-347) — H. Luepke 17-232, 5 TDs; H. Bauman 4-79, C. Hildebrandt 9-44, TD.

Receiving (rec-yds): GC (4-39) — J. Kopacz 2-25; J. Nelson 2-14, TD. S/CC (7-203) — H. Bauman 2-90, TD; C. Hildebrandt 3-58; L. Ellefson 1-37; H. Luepke 1-18.