MIFFLIN — An impressive opening drive had fans of the Iowa–Grant football team thinking upset on Friday night.
Unfortunately preseason SWAL favorite and current league front-runner Cuba City ultimately had the final say.
Senior halfback Brandon Slaats rushed for 94 yards and three touchdowns, and the Cuban defense forced six turnovers to spoil the host Panthers upset bid 28–12 in a SWAL brawl played at Iowa–Grant High School.
Iowa–Grant opened the much-anticipated match-up with a six-play, 83-yard drive the culminated in a 32-yard touchdown run by converted running back turned starting quarterback Derek Peat just over three minutes into the game. The Panthers bobbled the snap on the point after try and Peat’s conversion pass fell incomplete, but led 6–0 at the 9:27 mark of the first game.
Peat will take the snaps for the Panthers the rest of this season after junior T.J. Anderson was lost for the year after sustaining a broken collarbone in the final minute of I–G’s 12–6 victory over Darlington two weeks ago.
The undefeated Cubans (5–0, 4–0 SWAL) responded with a lightning-quick five-play, 60-yard drive. Slaats turned what looked like a short gain into a 34-yard TD run when he broke contain and scooted around the right end to tie the game.
All-conference kicker/punter Greg Ganter hammered home the extra point and Cuba City never trailed again.
The Panthers turned the ball over on their next two drives, one on an interception, a second on a fumbled handoff, but each time the I–G defense held.
But Iowa–Grant’s defense couldn’t overcome its offense’s third turnover of the half.
Jacob Timmerman picked off a Peat pass at the Panthers’ 21-yard-line with just 1:07 left in the half.
Three plays later Cuba City quarterback Kyle Fredrick hit a wide-open Jeff Meckstroth in the back of the end zone — after the Iowa–Grant defender slipped and fell on the play — with just seven seconds left in the half. Ganter’s PAT gave Cuba City a 14–6 lead going into the half.
The Panthers forced a three-and-out to begin the second half with workman-like 95-yard drive that featured 13 consecutive runs and took seven minutes off the clock.
Peat powered in from two yards outs to pull I–G within two points, but his conversion pass failed and the Cubans retained a 14–12 lead.
The Panthers forced another Cuban punt and had the ball and a chance to take the lead, but fumbled at their own 26-yard-line.
Cuba cashed in the short field opportunity with a 6-yard Slaats run.
Slaats added a 1-yard touchdown run with 6:01 remaining to complete the scoring.
Forced to abandon their running game with time ticking away, Peat through interceptions on the Panthers final two drives of the night.
“They took care of the ball; we didn’t,” said Iowa-Grant head coach Gary Allen. “They had good speed. They blocked well on the edge and they got to the edge too many time for us.”
Peat completed 6 of 11 passes for 53 yards, but was intercepted four times, twice by Preston Droessler, once by Timmerman and once by Slaats.
Peat also rushed for a game-high 141 yards and both I–G touchdowns on 24 carries.
The Panthers (3–2, 3–1) will look to bounce back this Friday at Southwestern (3–2, 2–2), which is coming off a 35–25 victory over Riverdale.
Cuba City 28, Iowa–Grant 12
(from Friday, Sept. 21 @ Iowa–Grant)
Cuba City 7 7 7 7 — 28
Iowa–Grant 6 0 6 0 — 12
IG: Derek Peat 32 run (kick failed)
CC: Slaats 34 run (Ganter kick)
CC: Meckstroth 3 pass from Fredrick (Ganter kick)
IG: Peat 2 run (pass failed)
CC: Slaats 6 run (Ganter kick)
CC: Slaats 1 run (Ganter kick)
First downs: CC 10, IG 13. Rushing: CC 48-199, IG 35-235. Passing Yards: CC 59, IG 53. Passing: CC 4-7-0, IG 6-11-4. Fumbles–lost: CC 0-0, IG 3-2. Penalties-yard: CC 4-40, IG 2-15.
Rushing: CC: Slaats 14-94; IG: Derek Peat 24-141. Passing: CC: Fredrick 4-7-0, 59; IG: Peat 6-11-4, 53. Receiving: CC: Meckstroth 3-39; IG: Eli Wienkes 3-30, Dakota Barnes 3-23.