GRUNDY CENTER - Winning the turnover battle and utilizing a bend but don't break defense, the Grundy Center football team didn't ask much of its offense Friday.
With its opportunistic defense coming through time and time again with four takeaways, it turned out 13 points was more than enough.
Scoreless through the first 42 minutes of play, Dylan Lyman ended the stalemate with a pair of late fourth quarter touchdowns as Grundy Center (3-4, 3-2) reclaimed the 'Victory Bell' with a 13-0 victory over Gladbrook-Reinbeck (3-4, 3-2) in a Class A District 4 game at Spartan Stadium.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Members of the Grundy Center football team hoist the Victory Bell after defeating Gladbrook-Reinbeck for the first time since 2009, winning 13-0 in Friday’s Class A District 4 football game in Grundy Center.
"The defense played really well. Coach Munson and the rest of the defensive staff did a great job of creating a game plan that put a lot of pressure on them and confused (Trevor Trunck) a little bit," said Grundy Center coach Brent Thoren.
Lyman finally put the scorekeeper to work pushing his way into the end zone from five yards out with 5:49 to play. Brock Rohler kept the drive alive on the previous play with a 17-yard strike to Riley Wells on 4th and 14.
Lyman came through again on the ensuing drive picking off Trunck on a rollout pass to help the Spartans retain possession near midfield with 2:45 remaining. The senior back sealed the deal with a hard-earned 28-yard scoring scamper on fourth and 3 with 15 ticks on the clock.
"The last few years they've beat us up pretty bad, so it was awesome to come out and win for these fans senior year," said Lyman, who finished with 163 yards on 30 carries.
While Lyman's huge fourth quarter spelled the difference, the Spartans' defense set the tone on the game's opening drive.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck marched 71 yards on 16 plays but came up empty from the 4 when the Grundy Center defense forced an incompletion from Trunck.
"(The first stop) was one of the keys to the game. We were able to gain a lot of confidence from it. We didn't do much off of it, but we at least got the ball out of there with a good punt. And then we could at least flip the field a bit in our favor and regroup," said Thoren.
Forcing a quick three-and-out, the Rebels squandered another scoring opportunity when Brett Boren recovered a fumble from Colton Dinsdale at the Spartans' 11-yard line late in the first.
Another stalled drive again gave the Rebels prime real estate as they took over at midfield, but the Rebels forced a fumble from Chase Clark. Grundy Center coughed up the ball themselves when Bryce Moats lost the handle at Gladbrook-Reinbeck's 36.
After trading punts, the Spartan defense wasn't fooled on fourth down snuffing out a fake punt run at the 50, but again they couldn't hang onto the ball. The Rebels caught the Spartans off guard with a 68-yard play-action pass for a score, but the play was called back on a hold. Grundy Center forced a third fumble at their own 28 to escape to the locker room tied at 0.
The Spartans' came out of the break with their most promising drive of the evening, but a 32-yard field goal try came up short. Still, the drive ate up nearly six minutes of the clock as the Rebels had only two possessions in the half before getting one last chance to score with just seconds remaining. Fittingly enough, Ryon Appel sacked Trunck on the final play to preserve the shutout and cement an impressive performance from the Spartan defense.
It was no mystery to Rebel coach John Olson, when pinpointing what cost them the game.
"Turnovers. I can't honestly point to anything else that we did wrong, besides just turning the ball over. We can block better, we can execute better. We can do all those kinds of things, but so can (Grundy Center).
"We thought we had a good week of practice. Our guys weren't too high or to low, but we just had too many turnovers."
The Rebels had won 12 of the previous 14 meetings in one of the state's oldest annual rivalries including eight of the last nine - but all of that was thrown out the window Friday.
"Being a Grundy Center graduate, it's very satisfying. There's a lot of pride involved in this and I'm just happy for the kids. It's a big rivalry for the kids and the community and I'm happy to be a part of it," said Thoren.