Rebels refuse to relent

GLADBROOK – It wasn’t pretty, but the Gladbrook-Reinbeck football team was the one to come out on top. Because the Rebels survived, they’re advancing.

Second-ranked G-R allowed No. 10 Lynnville-Sully to score on the first possession of the game, but the Rebels played bend-but-don’t-break-defense from there and grinded out a 13-6 victory in the opening round of the Class A state playoffs Friday night at ‘The Pit.’

With the Rebels (10-0) holding the ball and the lead with less than 90 seconds to play, they faced a fourth-and-2 and lined up in punt formation. Lynnville-Sully (8-2), with no timeouts left, was penalized for having 12 men on the field, resulting in a Rebel first down and burning any chance the Hawks had to get the ball back.

“It’s a huge deal, because they’re extremely talented,” said G-R coach John Olson. “I don’t want to tell them this, but we weren’t punting on that play anyway. We were going no play. We’re going to say ‘hut’ 50 times, and it probably wasn’t going to work, and then I was going to call a timeout. That’s part of the coaching back-and-forth. That’s part of them setting up schemes. It’s part of how it goes. Call it lucky, call it being prepared to be lucky.”

The Hawks got on the scoreboard first when they opened up in Rebel territory after taking the game’s opening kickoff back to the 40-yard line. A couple plays later, Sage Zylstra scampered virtually untouched 38 yards into the end zone.

“It kind of just surprised us a bit,” Olson said. “Not because we weren’t prepared, it’s just again they’re a good football team. That’s going to happen. I didn’t feel punched in the mouth or any of that kind of stuff. It’s just two pretty physical football teams getting after it.”

That’s all the Rebels would allow L-S to get, but the Hawks had their chances. The average starting field position for the Hawks’ 12 possessions on the night was the G-R 45-yard line. Half the time Lynnville-Sully got the ball, it had to go 60 yards or less to garner a score, but only once were the Hawks successful.

A golden opportunity presented itself late in the third quarter when G-R quarterback Hunter Lott fumbled, and the Hawks took over at the Rebel 19. But the Rebel defense would stand tall once again when L-S went for it on fourth down, and the pass attempt that would’ve gone for a first down was broken up.

The Rebels struggled to get the running game going early on. Punting on its first three possessions, G-R opened the second quarter turning to the passing game. Lott connected with Erik Knaack, who turned up field, slipping out of the hands of a Hawk defender, and took the rock 72 yards for a touchdown and a 7-6 lead.

Olson said, even with it being this late in the football season, the offense is still looking for an identity in the things the Rebels do well.

“I think we have to get some consistency on offense,” Olson said. “We’re good at all of that, but we’re not great at any of it. It kind of shows in games like this. When we get into games like this, and we’re kind of a team on offense where we just need 10 really good plays, but we’re going to run 50. So, we have to live with some of the 30 bad ones. It sucks, but we kind of have to live with that.”

Parker Bown engineered the running game early in the second half. Bown broke off a 26-yard touchdown run with 10:38 left in the third. After L-S was called for offsides on the extra point attempt, the Rebels opted to go for two. G-R was called for a block in the back on the try, and the ensuing extra point kick was missed keeping the score 13-6.

Bown led the Rebels with 125 yards on the ground on 19 carries. Lott finished 5-of-9 for 125 yards passing, and Knaack hauled in 95 yards worth of receiving on four catches.

On the ensuing drive following the Bown touchdown run, the Rebels were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct for imitating the snap count, causing the Hawk offense to false start. With the Hawks again deep in Rebel territory again, Matt Roeding shut down the threat with an interception in the end zone.

“When a guy goes in motion, our defense says ‘motion’,” Olson said. “Now we’re not trying to simulate a snap by any stretch of the imagination, we just call motion. (The officials) said we barked. I can’t imagine we did, but they’re on the field, I’m not. Just kind of go with the flow. Early in the year, other teams say motion to us, and we got called on that like five times. That’s our fault. If we’re doing something on that side of the ball we’re not supposed to do, that’s our fault, too.”

The Rebels advance to host Montezuma in the quarterfinal round this coming Friday at 7 p.m. Montezuma (8-2) defeated BGM 34-20 in its opening round game Friday. G-R topped BGM 42-14 back on Sept. 23.