FENNIMORE — The Milk Can is staying at Iowa–Grant.
Senior Brayden Johnson rushed for 175 yards and scored all three I–G touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 22–12 come-from-behind victory in the 46th annual rivalry game Friday at Fennimore High School.
“We were a little sluggish to start but played better as the game went on,” said Iowa–Grant head coach Gary Allen. “Our leaders stepped up in the second half and everyone really played with a lot of intensity. The kids were frustrated at halftime but instead of falling apart they came together and played well. We were able to complete some passes and our fullbacks Zach Campbell and Brady Peat had some good carries. That loosened things up for Brayden.”
A week after blowing a 22-point halftime lead and being held scoreless in the second half of a 50–36 loss to Mineral Point, Iowa–Grant struggled offensively for the first 24 minutes of Friday’s SWAL match-up.
The Fennimore defense pitched a first-half shutout and Tucker Trefz scored on a 4-yard run with 21 seconds left in the half to give the host Golden Eagles a 6–0 lead going into halftime.
The Panthers (5–2, 4–1 SWAL) were inside the Fennimore 5-yard line once in the first half, but the Golden Eagles held on downs.
But the Iowa–Grant offense finally got on track early in the third quarter.
A long Caleb Hill pass to Collin Price set up an 11-yard Johnson touchdown run and Acea Upmann’s extra point gave the visiting Panthers a 7–6 lead just 45 seconds into the second half.
“That catch early in the second half was big,” added Allen. “I think sometimes our opponents concentrate so much on Brayden, other kids get opportunities.”
The defensive battle continued until late in the fourth quarter when Johnson scored from three yards out with 2:22 left. He added the two-point conversion to make it 15–7.
After a Fennimore turnover, Johnson scored again from five yards out just over a minute later to put the finishing touches on the victory.
The Golden Eagles tacked on a meaningless touchdown with 33 seconds left to account for the final score.
Hill completed 5 of 12 passes for 88 yards in the win. Price had two receptions for 62 yards and Campbell hauled in two passes for 15 yards.
This was Iowa–Grant’s seventh straight win over Fennimore. The Golden Eagles last defeated the Panthers in 2008, 51–19.
The neighboring rivals began playing for the Milk Can traveling trophy in 1970. One half of the vintage aluminum milk can is painted red with a black Panther logo. The other half is maroon with a gold eagle sprawled across the can and the scores of each meeting since 1970 are painted down the sides of the trophy.
The Panthers now hold a 33–13 edge in the Milk Can series.
With the win, Iowa–Grant also clinched a playoff spot for the eighth straight season.
“We try not to get wrapped up in those things,” said Allen. “Our main focus is improving this week so we play better than we did last week.”
The Panthers will host Cuba City (6–1, 4–1) this Friday.
“Cuba City is very good,” added Allen. “They are well coached and they have good athletes. We will need to play well.”
Iowa–Grant 22, Fennimore 12
(from Friday, Oct. 1 @ Fennimore)
Iowa–Grant 0 0 7 15 — 22
Fennimore 0 6 0 6 — 12
F: Trefz 4 run (kick failed)
IG: Brayden Johnson 11 run (Acea Upmann good)
IG: Johnson 3 run (Johnson run)
IG: Johnson 5 run (Upmann good)
F: J. Williams 30 pass from W/ Williams (conversion failed)
First downs — IG 17, F 12. Rushing — IG 47-204, F 32-96. Passing — IG 5-12-0, 88; F 9-18-1, 126. Fumbles–lost — IG 0-0, F 1-1. Penalties-yards — IG 5-25, F 3-19.
Rushing — IG: Brayden Johnson 34-175; F: Henkel 3-37. Passing — IG: Caleb Hill 5-12-0, 88; F: J. Williams 9-18-1, 126. Receiving — IG: Collin Price 2-62, Zach Campbell 2-15; F: Henkel 5-58.