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GLENWOOD CITY — Turnovers and special teams can quickly change the complexion of a football game.
Such was the case when Glenwood City welcomed Cadott for its annual homecoming contest September 23.
The two Dunn-St. Croix combatants found themselves mired in a defensive battle throughout the first half with neither squad producing much of an advantage nor offense.
Cadott held a slim 3-0 halftime advantage thanks to a 31-yard Peter Wier field goal in the second quarter. Each team had only about 75 yards of offense at the break.
The Hilltoppers looked to get their offense in gear as it prepared to take the second-half kickoff. Instead, it was the Hornet’s that took flight thanks to a turnover and special teams play.
Senior Morgen Eggert received the kick to open the third quarter of play but only went a few yards when he was hit hard and fumbled the football. The ball bounced into the arms of Cadott’s Nolan Blum who returned it 13 yards for the game’s first touchdown with just nine seconds gone off the second-half clock.
Cadott’s offense then began to swarm as it scored two more touchdowns in the quarter and added a final one in the fourth as it blanked Glenwood City, who never got its offense on track, 31-0.
“We struggled on offense all night, which really hurt us in the second half,” Glenwood City head coach Shane Strong said.
“We didn’t block well up front, which led to our defensive line wearing down in the second half. It is very difficult to win a ball game when your offense doesn’t move the ball, forcing your defense to make multiple stops,” added Strong.
Neither team was able to establish any kind of offensive momentum in the first half.
While Glenwood City struggled just to move the ball and gain first downs, penalties plagued Cadott’s offensive forays.
After exchanging punts to begin the game, Cadott had a promising drive on its second possession as it moved inside Glenwood City’s 20 yard line. But a trio of penalties – a pair of false starts and a holding call – saw the Hornets go from first and ten to fourth and 27 at the GC 41 which forced them to punt.
Glenwood City got a 15-yard gain on a first-down completion from Gabe Knops to Brady Klatt followed by a five-yard Max Janson run before its own holding penalty followed by a sack stalled the drive. Unfortunately, the ensuing punt from the GC five went off the side Max Janson’s foot and traveled just 12 yards before going outs of bounds at the 17 yard line.
With their backs against their own goal line, the Topper defense rose up. Senior Aaron Brigham hit Hornet running back Easton Goodman in the back field for a four-yard loss on first down. Cadott quarterback Tristan Drier then threw an incompletion. On third down, Drier connected with Jordan Peters for a 7-yard gain. On fourth and seven, the Hornets brought on kicker Peter Wier who booted the 31-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 9:39 left in the first half.
Neither team did much offensively after that which allowed Cadott to take that 3-0 advantage into halftime.
Blum’s fumble recovery and return for the touchdown not only gave the visiting Hornets a 10-0 advantage, it set the tone for the entire second half.
On its first possession following the Cadott special teams’ score, Glenwood City found itself going backwards.
Another short punt gave the Hornets the ball on the GC 33 yard line. Four straight runs by Nick Fasbender gave Cadott a first and goal at the seven. Another false start pushed the ball back five yards but unlike the first half, the Hornets overcame their mistake and scored two plays later on a 7-yard pass completion from Drier to Easton Goodman with 6:49 still left in the third. Wier tacked on the PAT and it was suddenly 17-0.
A holding penalty put the Hilltopper in a hole as they started their next possession. Faced with a fourth and 13 from its own 21, Coach Strong decided to roll the dice and hope an offensive spark would ignite. Instead, a pass from Knops to Klatt garnered just five yards and the Toppers had to turn the ball over on downs at its own 26.
It took Cadott all of three plays to strike pay dirt once again. Runs of 11 and 7 yards by Fasbender set up and 8-yard touchdown jaunt by quarterback Tristan Drier at 2:47 of the third quarter. Wier’s good kick extended the Hornet lead to 24-0.
Cadott would go on to add a final touchdown with 3:59 left in the game on a 11-yard run by Drier. Wier’s extra point made the final 31-0.
Cadott finished with 249 yards of offense including 206 on the ground as quarterback Tristan Drier lead the way with 102 yards and a pair of TDs on 15 carries. Nick Fasbender added 59 yards and Easton Goodman 33. Drier completed four of his seven throws for another 39 yards and a score.
Glenwood City finished with 144 yards on the night with 125 yards passing on a 10-for-16 performance by senior hurler Gabe Knops. Max Janson had 18 of the Toppers’ 19 rushing yards.
“Cadott deserves credit for their aggressive play up front,”: said Strong. “We tried to spread them out, but could not protect our quarterback very well. We had a couple of injuries that really hurt us, but we need to overcome that as a team.”
Glenwood City, now 1-3 and 3-3 overall, will host rival Boyceville this Friday, September 30. The Bulldogs are coming off a 24-21 loss to Elmwood/Plum City.
“We have a huge challenge this week against Boyceville. They may have the most talented team in the league and their kids play hard,” concluded Strong.