MCDONALD'S SWNEWS4U.COM GAME OF THE WEEK (Sept. 29–Oct. 5)
PREP FOOTBALL: #6 Darlington 53, #8 Cuba City 33
By Tom Gunnell, Republican Journal/Tri-County Press
CUBA CITY – Nothing could slow down the Darlington offense on Friday night. Not the rain. Not the distraction of Cuba City’s faulty light towers and scoreboard. And, not the Cubans themselves.
The Division 6 #6-ranked Redbirds rushed for a season-high 488 yards and scored on seven of their nine possessions to sink the D6 #8-ranked Cubans, 53-33, in a wild SWAL shootout at CCHS’ OA Barth Field on Oct. 1.
“I’m very happy with the perseverance of the kids. The lights, scoreboard, and rain are all things to overcome,” said Darlington head coach Travis Winkers. “After we marched down and scored on the opening drive, we had some setbacks. For us to not hang our heads, and then come right back down and score was huge. Our ability to have an answer to their big plays was huge all night and something I was very proud of.”
Darlington (6–1 overall) remains alone atop the SWAL standings at 5-0 following the 600th victory in their program’s 95-year history, while the Cubans (5–2) slip to 3–2 in the SWAL after suffering their second straight loss.
Sophomore Breylin Goebel and senior Brady Horne each rushed for more than 100 yards and scored three touchdowns apiece to lead the Redbirds’ attack. Senior Easton Evenstad added 100 rushing yards and scored four two-point conversions for the ‘Birds, and senior quarterback Braden Davis had 80 rushing yards and broke Alex Erickson’s school passing TDs record in the game.
The lead traded hands three times in the first quarter. After Goebel put the ‘Birds ahead 8-0 with an early 4-yard TD run and conversion run, senior quarterback Beau Kopp connected on TD passes of 24 yards to senior wideout Carter Olson and 39 yards to senior running back Chayse Barth to thrust the Cubans into the lead at 14-8.
Darlington pulled back in front in the closing seconds of the opening stanza on an 8-yard TD run by Goebel and Evenstad’s first successful conversion, and then extended the lead to 32-21 by the halftime break on TD runs by Horne (1) and Goebel (20) in the second quarter.
Kopp teamed up with Olson on an 86-yard scoring strike in the quarter to keep the Cubans close at the intermission.
Horne hit pay dirt from seven yards out midway through the third quarter and tacked on a 15-yard scoring jaunt early in the fourth quarter to push the Birds’ advantage to 46-21.
But, the Cubans weren’t going to go away. Kopp capped a quick scoring drive with a 12-yard TD run with 7:28 to play. Then, after recovering an onside kick, the senior signal-caller ran another in from five yards out to cut the deficit to 46-33 with 6:10 remaining.
With the momentum shifting, the Redbirds put together a clutch drive to seal the victory. Taking over at their 33-yard line, the ‘Birds marched 67 yards on 12 plays to take the wind out of the Cubans’ comeback. Davis finished off the drive with a 9-yard TD pass to senior Hunter Hardyman for his record-setting 37th career TD pass.
“The onside kick was another thing we had to overcome and, again, we answered the only way we could– by methodically moving the ball for a TD. We were far from perfect the other night and it was a good wake up call that we need to get better in all phases. But the resilience and effort of the kids was great,” Winkers said.
The Redbirds ended the night with 510 yards of total offense, gaining 488 of those yards on the ground on a staggering 74 carries. The Birds' finished the game with 29 first downs.
Goebel led the way with 184 yards on 23 carries with three TDs. Horne rushed for 116 yards and 17 totes with three scores as well, while Evenstad also ran the ball 17 times for 110 yards and had an interception on defense.
Davis finished 3-of-4 passing for 22 yards with a TD and an interception. He also ran 14 times for 80 yards. Hardyman pulled in two receptions for 24 yards with a TD for the ‘Birds.
“I think (the record) is a pretty cool individual achievement for him. I personally don’t think Braden gets the respect in the area for the really good QB that he is. He broke the record on 176 pass attempts and in 12 less games than Alex. This year we have not passed as much as prior years and Braden hasn’t complained at all. He wants to win and do whatever it takes for us to do that. That’s why I love him and why our teammates love him,” said Winkers.
Kopp threw for a season-high 347 yards and three scores on his 19-of-35 passing and he also led the Cubans in rushing with 55 yards on 10 carries with two more TDs.
Olson hauled in six catches for 138 yards and two scores. Barth had two catches for 96 yards and a TD along with 20 rushing yards. Senior Mason Reese added six catches for 63 yards for the Cubans.
Next up, Darlington is scheduled to travel to Belleville on Friday, Oct. 8, for another key SWAL game against the Wildcats (6-1, 4-1). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Darlington… 16 16 8 13 – 53
Cuba City…. 14 7 0 12 – 33
D– Breylin Goebel, 4 run (B. Goebel run)
CC – Carter Olson, 24 pass from Beau Kopp (Jackson Soja kick)
CC – Chayse Barth, 39 pass from Kopp (Soja kick)
D– B. Goebel, 8 run (Easton Evenstad run)
D– Brady Horne, 1 run (Evenstad run)
CC – Olson, 86 pass from Kopp (Soja kick)
D– B. Goebel, 20 run (Evenstad pass from Braden Davis)
D– Horne, 7 run (pass failed)
D– Horne, 15 run (Evenstad pass from Davis)
CC – Kopp, 12 run (pass failed)
CC – Kopp, 5 run (run failed)
D – Hunter Hardyman, 9 pass from Davis (Colton Ruf kick)
Team Stats: First Downs– D 29, CC 18. Rushing– D 74-488; CC 16-75. Passing– D 3-4-2, 22; CC 19-35-1, 347. Fumbles-Lost– D 2-1; CC 1-1.Penalties- D 6-50; CC 2-15.
Darlington Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Breylin Goebel, 23-184-3; Brady Horne, 17-116-3; Easton Evenstad, 17-110-0; Braden Davis, 14-80-0. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Davis, 3-4-1-1, 22. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Hunter Hardyman, 2-24-1.
CC Individual Leaders: Rushing (Att-Yds-Td)– Beau Kopp, 10-55-2. Passing (Comp-Att-Int-Td-Yds)– Kopp, 19-35-1-3, 347. Receiving (Cat-Yds-Td)– Carter Olson, 6-138-2; Chayse Barth, 4-96-1; Mason Reese, 6-63-0.