LIVINGSTON – Darlington senior running back Kameron Blosch rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns as the Redbirds kept their post-season hopes alive by fighting off a late rally to defeat Iowa-Grant, 28-25, in a SWAL football game played on a rainy night at IGHS on Friday, Oct. 6.
The win was the third straight for the Redbirds (3-5, overall, 2-3 SWAL) and moves them within a game of clinching a playoff berth for the 10th consecutive season.
All the ‘Birds need to do to become playoff eligible is defeat Boscobel (1-7, 1-4) in their season finale at Martens Field on Friday. Oct. 13. The Bulldogs ended a 12-game losing streak when they defeated Southwestern, 22-13, last Friday for their first victory of the season.
Blosch got the Redbirds off and running on Friday night when he ripped off touchdown runs of 49 and 13 yards in the first quarter to build up an early 14-0 lead.
Senior kicker Bailey McGuire and the Redbirds’ special team unit added both extra point kicks despite the poor weather conditions, and those points would be crucial to the outcome of the game. McGuire finished 4-for-4 on his PAT attempts, while the Panthers (4-4, 2-3) converted just one of their four conversions on the night.
Junior quarterback Blake Whalen added a 1-yard TD run in the second quarter to increase the Redbirds’ lead to 21-0 at the intermission.
The Panthers’ senior running back Brady Peat, who is currently fourth in the state in rushing yards at 1,596 and fifth in rushing TDs with 23, scored his first of four second-half TDs on a 1-yard run in the third quarter to trim the deficit to 21-6 and he added a 2-yard TD blast early in the fourth quarter to make it 21-12.
The Redbirds answered back with a 45-yard TD jaunt by Blosch to extend their advantage to 28-12.
Peat, who gained 223 of the Panthers’ 267 rushing yards on 38 carries, ripped off a 36-yard TD run moments later to keep I-G’s comeback hopes alive, but the ‘Birds halted the two-point conversion attempt to remain on top by two scores at 28-18.
Peat scored from two yards out with 2:44 remaining to bring the Panthers within three points, however the ‘Birds were able to run out the clock to hold on for their third straight win following a 0-5 start to the season.
Darlington outgained the Panthers on the ground, 281-267, while I-G held a slim 34-18 edge through the air in the game.
Blosch carried the ball 21 times for 240 yards to lead the Redbirds’ ground attack. Grady Rielly added 27 yards on eight totes, while Whalen completed 2-of-5 passes for 18 yards with an interception to go along with a TD run.
The Panthers could still make the playoffs themselves with a win in their finale this Friday, but they will have to knock off the SWAL-leading Cuba City Cubans (6-2, 6-0) to become playoff eligible.
Darlington………. 14 7 0 7 – 28
Iowa-Grant……… 0 0 6 19 – 25
D – Kameron Blosch 49 run (Bailey McGuire kick)
D – Blosch, 13 run (McGuire kick)
D – Blake Whalen, 1 run (McGuire kick)
IG – Peat, 1 run (conversion failed)
IG – Peat, 2 run (conversion failed)
D – Blosch, 45 run (McGuire kick)
IG – Peat, 36 run (conversion failed)
IG – Peat, 2 run (Vigen kick)
Team Stats: First Downs– D 11, IG 12. Rushing– D 37-281, IG 50-267. Passing– D D 2-5-1, 18, IG 3-8-1, 34. Fumbles-Lost– D 1-0, IG 1-0. Penalties- D 5-46, IG 3-20.
Rushing — D: Kameron Blosch 21-240, IG: Brady Peat 38-223, Matthew Winders 7-41. Passing — D: Blake Whalen 2-5-1, 18. IG: Ross Havlik 3-8-1, 34. Receiving — D: Murray 1-11, Blosch 1-7. D: Michael Winders 1-23, Ethan Kuhls 1-6. Tackles — IG: Clayton Kite 11, Peat 6, Winders 6.