Aug. 28—The Panthers and Huskies fought like cats and dogs Friday night, combining for three touchdowns in just over a minute in the final quarter. It was Creston who came out on top with the 36-17 non-district win.
The game started much differently than it ended, each team finding only one touchdown in the first quarter.
It was the Panthers who made the first offensive drive downfield, senior running back Brennan Hayes and junior wide receiver Josh Schaefer taking turns with the ball as they hoped to put the first score on the board.
Senior Cael Turner moved from wide receiver to quarterback this year after the team graduated three-year starter Kyle Strider.
The team made it to the Winterset 27-yard line before an incompletion on third and 1 set up a short fourth down. Junior Weston Trapp wasn't able to find the yard needed, and the Panthers' first drive of the season ended with a turnover on downs.
The Huskies progressed down the field, earning three first downs before eventually earning a first and goal on the 6-yard line. Sophomore receiver Ben Porter took the ball in for a rushing touchdown. The kick was good for a 7-0 Winterset lead in the first quarter.
Trapp took the ball for 15 yards and Turner for 8 to set up a short second down, but two consecutive false starts backed them up. Hayes caught the ball for only 1 yard, setting up third and 11.
Senior Brandon Briley kept the drive alive with a 12-yard reception to move the chains. The Panthers were penalized with two more false starts on the 14-play 80-yard drive that ended in a 4-yard touchdown reception by Schaefer, tying the game.
Junior Josh Schaefer goes around a defender after catching a pass from Cael Turner. Schaefer had nine receptions for 88 yards and three touchdowns in the victory.
"Offensively I think we'd drive the football and then we'd back ourselves up," Creston head coach Brian Morrison said. "Whether it be penalties, illegal procedures or sort of our line jumping, we had that a couple times in a row where we had reversed or made negative plays. We left points on the board in the first half."
Senior defensive lineman Max Chapman was formidable on the Huskies next drive, getting the tackle three plays in a row. Junior linebacker Lucas Travis kept the momentum in Creston's favor with a sack on the following play.
Senior defensive back McCoy Haines broke up a pass attempt on third-and-16 to force a punt.
"I thought defensively we got better as the game went on," Morrison said. "We adjusted after the first drive and I think it helped us as far as our alignment and moving personnel around."
Senior Dillon Starlin led the defense in total tackles (8.5). Starlin and Travis each had six solo tackles to lead the team. Chapman came in with a sack and two tackles for loss to lead the Panthers in the backfield.
Creston senior Austin Evans gets the tackle on senior wide receiver Kade White. Coming in to assist are Will Bollinger (35), McCoy Haines (15) and Dillon Starlin (10).
On the Huskies' last drive of the second quarter, the Panthers made a big stop on third-and-goal at the 5-yard-line to force a field goal to end the half 10-7.
Despite not ever having the lead in the first half, Turner was confident in the team's ability. "I never thought we weren't going to win this game," he said. "Our platooning system helps us beat teams in second halves. They were cramping up, they were tired, sore, and we're fresh — we're good to go."
Winterset had the ball to begin the second half, and the change of momentum was evident from the first snap as the Panthers' defense didn't allow the Huskies to convert a single first down on the drive. Offensive pass interference and two illegal substitutions found the Huskies punting on fourth-and-17.
Morrison said the defense played well as a unit in the second half. "I thought the defensive line did really well," he said. "That's always a question mark with me because we have some new guys in there. I thought the linebackers got better as the game went on and got more confidence."
Hayes, an all-state running back, found his rhythm in the second half with three consecutive gains and a first down for the Panthers. A bad snap found Turner sacked for a loss of 7 yards to set up third and 14.
A 13-yard reception by Tyler Riley put them at fourth-and-1, Hayes finding a lane and picking up 6, creating the first and goal. Once again, it was Turner to Schaefer on a left side out route to put six on the board. A successful point after attempt gave the Panthers their first lead of the night, 14-10.
"Offensively, I thought we played phenomenal," Morrison said. "Brennan Hayes, Weston Trapp running the football. Turner just had presence in the pocket and getting out of the pocket and being athletic, making plays on his own."
In Turner's quarterback debut, he went 20/26 for 206 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions for a 143.5 quarterback rating. Hayes finished with 201 rushing yards on 23 carries, 36 receiving yards on four receptions and a rushing touchdown. Trapp carried the ball 10 times for 30 yards.
Senior Cael Turner takes off downfield on a quarterback keeper in the first quarter. Turner finished 20/26 for 206 yards and four touchdowns.
"They came out in a different defense than we were expecting," Turner said. "We had to switch, make some adjustments at halftime and came out better."
The Huskies found a first down in the next drive, but on first and 10, senior Milo Staver sacked Winterset's Hunter Lyon for a loss of 7. On fourth and 10, the Huskies had a bad punt, only going 23 yards.
"Pretty early on in the third quarter I could feel everything changing," Turner said. "They were starting to get tired, sore, cramping. That's when I knew it was over."
Trapp, Hayes and Turner took turns rushing the ball downfield in the fourth quarter before the drive ended in another Turner to Schaefer touchdown.
"We've ran that play every day in practice," Turner said. "I knew going in that it was going to work. I've been telling everybody since the beginning of the season that Josh Schaefer is going to be the real deal, and tonight he came out here and proved it. Can't ask for much more out of him."
Schaefer ended the night with nine receptions for 88 yards and three touchdowns.
A two-point conversion by Trapp gave the Panthers a 22-10 lead.
After the kickoff, Winterset junior running back Hank Wilmes found a gap, dodging a tackle and outrunning the Panthers for an 80-yard touchdown. Wilmes rushed for 212 yards in the matchup.
"Second half, I think we gassed them both on offense and defense," Morrison said. "They had that long touchdown, but we had a guy there, he just flat out went inside and didn't make the tackle."
The Huskies closed the gap to 22-17, but the Panthers weren't ready to let off the gas.
Trying to take Creston by surprise, Winterset went with a shorter kickoff. Evans connected, returning the ball 22 yards to the 46 yard line.
Hayes took the ball for no gain on first down, but on second down, he took off for a 46-yard touchdown, the game's third in just over one minute. After the PAT, the Panthers were up 29-17 with five minutes left in the game.
"It was a vote of confidence. I knew I could get to that second level," Hayes said. "I kept getting there and getting slowed down. I knew I could get one eventually, and it happened."
The Huskies went four and out on the next drive, handing the ball back to the Panthers who drove down the field with Hayes before Turner connected with Briley for a 13-yard touchdown.
Briley logged four receptions for 53 yards and a touchdown.
The Panthers' three fourth-quarter touchdowns outscored Winterset's full-game performance.
"That's Creston football," Morrison said. "Our slogan is finish. We want to get that game to the fourth quarter. This is a rivalry game in terms of them being 30 minutes away. It means a lot to those guys, it means a lot to our guys. We got the game to where we were up by three or four, then we just needed that score and we kept going and going and going — you saw the momentum shift our way."
Hayes said winning the rivalry game was exciting. "It definitely shows for our season what we can do," he said. "It's really exciting to have this happen week one."
The Panthers return to action Friday at Lewis Central.
Points by quarter
Wi 7 3 0 7—17
Cr 7 0 7 22—39
WI — Ben Porter 6 run (Luke Linde kick), 6:08
CR — Josh Schaefer 4 pass from Cael Turner (Brennan Hayes kick), 0:08
WI — Linde 22 field goal, (0:06)
CR — Schaefer 3 pass from Turner (Hayes kick), 7:12
CR — Schaefer 18 pass from Turner (Weston Trapp 2 pt.), 6:18
WI — Hank Wilmes 80 run (Linde kick), 6:02.
CR — Hayes 46 run (Hayes kick), 5:14
CR — Brandon Briley 11 pass from Turner (Hayes kick), 2:25
First downs17 15
Rushes-yards 40-143.5 44-266
Passing 20-26-0 9-17-0
Passing yards 206 103
Total yards 443 352
Punts-avg. 1-45 4-38.3
Return yards 48 59
Fumbles-lost 0 0
Penalties-yards 50 62
RUSHING — Cr. Brennan Hayes 23-201, Weston Trapp 10-30, Cael Turner 7-6. Wi. Hank Wilmes 23-212, Ben Porter 8-36, Hunter Lyon 10-13, Tate Thompson 2-5.
PASSING — Cr. Cael Turner 20-26-0 for 206 yards. Wi. Hunter Lyon 9-17-0 for 103 yards
RECEIVING — Cr. Josh Schaefer 9-88, Brandon Briley 4-53, Brennan Hayes 4-36, Weston Trapp 2-18, Tyler Riley 1-11. Wi. Kade White 5-63, Tate Thompson 2-9, Bowen Tadlock 1-16, Ben Porter 1-15.
PUNTS-AVG. — Cr. Trapp 1-45. Wi- Linde 4 -36.5
TACKLE LEADERS (solo-assists) — Cr. Dillon Starlin 8.5; Lucas Travis 7; Austin Evans 6; Will Bollinger 5.5; Max Chapman 5; Milo Staver 5. Wi. Zac Mortvedt 11; Carson Bellamy 8.5; Bowen Tadlock 6; Kahne Kiburz 5.5
INTERCEPTIONS — None
FUMBLE RECOVERIES — None
TACKLES FOR LOSS — Cr. Chapman 2, Staver 1, Travis 1. Wi. Ryan Cloke 1, Mortvedt 1, Thompson .5, Linde .5.
SACKS — Cr. Chapman 1, Travis 1, Staver 1. Wi. Mortvedt 1.