LIVINGSTON - The Iowa-Grant varsity football team didn’t let the usual distractions of Homecoming week affect their singular focus of winning Friday night’s game.
Led by an efficient passing night from senior Blake Welu, another run-stuffing performance from the defense and punishing running attack the Panthers celebrated Homecoming 2011 in style with a convincing 21-7 victory over Southwestern.
After being stuffed on a quarterback sneak on 4th-and-1 at the Wildcats 8-yard-line early in the opening quarter the Panthers were back on the prowl two plays later when junior Tucker Sarbacker intercepted a Keaton Kephart pass at the Southwestern 46.
Nine plays later senior fullback Logan Bollant bulled his way into the end zone from six yards out. Cody Rider converted the extra point and Iowa-Grant lead 7-0 with 2:03 left in the quarter.
Southwestern picked up one first down on its next drive, but quickly punted away possession and once again the Panthers were on the move.
I-G went 90 yards in 13 plays, picking up four first downs along the way, and scored on a 3-yard bootleg run by Welu on 4th-and-1. The gutsy call by Coach Gary Allen gave the Panthers a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
And 18-yard Welu to Brandon Pierick pass and a 39-yard run by Derek Peat on back-to-back snaps were the key plays of the drive.
After a Bollant sack forced another Southwestern punt, I-G had 3:49 left in the half to get another score.
A 16-yard pass to Pierick moved the ball to the visitors 41, but back-to-back losses and a 4-yard run by Peat left the Panthers facing 4th-and-10 and a sure punting situation.
However Coach Allen once again reached into his bag of tricks and nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat once again.
A fake punt nearly picked up the first down, but an obvious pass interference was overlooked by the referees. Southwestern got back into the game with an 18-yard third quarter touchdown pass from Kephart to Aaron Kaiser.
But Iowa-Grant closed out the victory with a 4-yard Welu to Pierick TD pass in the fourth quarter. Welu finished the night 11-for-13 with 99 yards, one TD pass and a touchdown run. Pierick caught nine passes for 88 yards. Peat rushed for 150 yards on 24 carries and Bollant added 110 yards on 22 carries.
Iowa-Grant (5-2, 3-2 SWAL) will travel to Fennimore this Friday for the annual Milk Can game.
Iowa-Grant 21, Southwestern 7
(from Friday, Sept. 30 @ Iowa-Grant)
Southwestern 0 0 7 0 - 7
Iowa-Grant 7 7 0 7 - 21
IG - Logan Bollant 6 run (Cody Rider kick)
IG - Blake Welu 4 run (Rider kick)
S - Kaiser 18 pass from Kephart (Kephart kick)
IG - Brandon Pierick 4 pass from Welu (Rider kick)
First downs - S 7, IG 21. Rushing - S 15-20, IG 58-283. Passing yards - S 111, IG 99. Passes - S 9-15-1, IG 11-14-0. Fumbles lost - S 0, IG 0. Penalties-yards - S 1-5, IG 1-10.
Rushing - S: Kuhl 5-18; IG: Derek Peat 24-150, Logan Bollant 22-110. Passing - S: Kephart 9-15-2, 111; IG: Blake Welu 11-13-0, 99. Receiving - S: Kaiser 3-32; IG: Brandon Pierick 9-88.