CUBA CITY — Pick your own favorite theme for Friday’s Iowa–Grant 24–7 win over Cuba City:
(1) It was a grim defensive struggle until the Panthers’ three fourth-quarter touchdowns gave them the lead for good.
(2) The Panthers used their offense to play defense against one of the leading Southwest Wisconsin Activities League offensive players, Cuba City running back Kordell Stillmunkes.
(3) Daring special teams plays loomed large in the Panthers’ comeback from a 7–6 halftime deficit.
(4) Iowa–Grant (5–3, 4–1 SWAL) stayed one game behind undefeated Darlington (8–0, 5–0 SWAL), with the Redbirds coming to Iowa–Grant for both teams’ regular season finale Friday.
Themes 1 and 2: The Panthers ground out a 20-run, 73-yard drive off the opening kickoff that took up 9 minutes and 42 seconds of the first quarter before Travis Arndt’s 1-yard touchdown run with 2:15 left in the first quarter. No play gained more than 11 yards. Other than Hill’s quarterback sneak, every play was either a Brady Peat run — Peat had 33 of his 141 rushing yards on the drive — or an Arndt run — Arndt had 22 of his 72 rushing yards on the drive.
“The biggest part of controlling the ball was only having one turnover,” said Iowa–Grant head coach Gary Allen. “Another big reason was our line, receivers, and backs blocking for each other. Brady and Travis also ran the ball very hard and took care of the ball. Our kids have really embraced the team concept and playing for each other and it really showed in this game.”
The drive featured three Cuba City offside penalties, one of which led to a first down on third-and-5 and another of which led to a first down on fourth-and-4. Quarterback Caleb Hill ran for three yards and a first down on fourth-and-inches.
Sawyer Sarbacker intercepted Andy Clendenen’s pass on Cuba City’s third offensive play, but the Panthers were unable to convert the turnover into points. Stillmunkes’ interception of Caleb Hill’s pass started what turned out to be Cuba City’s only scoring drive of the game with 4:52 left in the first half.
Clendenen threw for 11 yards and a first down to Nate Timmerman on third-and-10 from the Cuba City 4. The sophomore quarterback then threw a 29-yard pass one play later to Ryan Hoppenjan, a 14-yard pass to Mason Erschen, a 23-yard pass to Stillmunkes, and a 20-yard pass to Hoppenjan to set up his own five-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds left in the half. Timmerman’s extra point gave Cuba City a 7–6 lead that held up into early in the fourth quarter.
After a defensive stop on fourth-and-15 from the Iowa–Grant 29, Hill threw to Clayton Kite for 11 yards and a first down, then threw for 12 yards and a first down to Peat.
Theme 3: On fourth-and-4 at the Cuba City 42, having failed on a fake punt run the second quarter, the Panthers tried another fake punt. Hill managed to knock down a high snap with his hand, then threw a seven-yard pass to Arndt to keep the drive alive. Arndt’s five-yard touchdown run with 10:54 left in the game gave the Panthers the lead for good.
Then, after having tried pooch kicks on its two previous kickoffs, Iowa–Grant recovered its onside kick at the Cuba City 45. The Panthers needed just three Peat runs and one Hill sneak to score on Peat’s 10-yard run with 9:57 remaining to extend their lead to 17–7.
The Cubans moved from their 44 to the Iowa–Grant 24, but a four-yard quarterback sack and incomplete pass ended the drive. Stillmunkes played most of the second half as a receiver, with three other Cubans lined up on the opposite drive, and caught two first-down passes on the drive.
Iowa–Grant then ended the game with another epic drive, taking 17 runs and one pass and 6:16 to go 72 yards. The pass, 26 yards to Peat on fourth-and-4, extended a drive that ended with Peat’s eight-yard touchdown run with 40 seconds remaining.
Theme 4: The win gave Iowa–Grant not only a chance to clinch a share of the SWAL title if the Panthers beat Darlington Friday, but ammunition for a high seed for the playoffs.
Iowa–Grant 24, Cuba City 7
(from Friday, Oct. 7 @ Cuba City)
Iowa–Grant 6 0 0 18 — 24
Cuba City 0 7 0 0 — 7
IG: Travis Arndt 1 run (run failed)
CC: Clenden 5 run (Timmerman kick)
IG: Arndt 5 run (run failed)
IG: Brady Peat 10 run (kick failed)
IG: Peat 8 run (kick failed)
First downs — IG 18; CC 9. Rushing — IG 24-79; CC 54-224. Passing Yards — IG 127; CC 81 Passing — IG 8-25-2; CC 7-12-1. Fumbles–lost — IG 0-0; CC 0-0. Penalties-yards — IG 5-30, CC 2-25.
Rushing — IG: Brady Peat 31-141; CC: Hoppenjan 8-44. Passing — IG: Caleb Hill 7-12-1, 81; CC: Clendenen 8-25-2, 127. Receiving — IG: Brady Peat 3-36, Travis Arndt 3-22; CC: Hoppenjan 3-71.