GLADBROOK - It was the statement drive of the game.
Twenty plays, 81 yards, and more than 8 minutes off the third-quarter clock.
But no points.
As Gladbrook-Reinbeck's run-oriented march moved the ball from one end to the other to open the second half, it appeared to be the boost the Rebels needed to get back into Wednesday's Class 1A first-round playoff game at 'The Pit.'
One inch, one yard, one more block, one more line surge - whatever the Rebels needed, Dike-New Hartford got.
The Wolverines used a goal-line stand to stave off Gladbrook-Reinbeck's second-half comeback, and a pair of momentous special teams plays propeled Dike-New Hartford (8-2) into the second round with a 33-14 victory over the District 4 runner-up Rebels (7-3).
When the Rebels finally did find the end zone on Parker Bolt's 33-yard touchdown pass to Logan Petersen on fourth down, Dike-New Hartford stole the momentum right back.
Eric Joblinske added to his monstrous night of toting the pigskin by returning Petersen's ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, and then the Wolverines' into-the-wind kick boomeranged back for an onside recovery.
Four plays later, Gladbrook-Reinbeck went from being down 14-7 to being three scores out of range, 27-7.
"Some lucky bounces went their way but they went their way because they just executed and they were the better team tonight and they did what it takes to win," G-R head coach John Olson said of the Wolverines.
Joblinske finished with 27 carries for 202 yards and a touchdown, quarterback Josh Rekers added two short TD plunges and Dike-New Hartford advanced into Monday's second-round rematch at Aplington-Parkersburg. The third-ranked Falcons, who outscored Eagle Grove 48-27 on Wednesday night, defeated D-NH in their District 3 pairing in overtime, 42-34.
Dike-New Hartford never had to drive farther than 50 yards to reach the end zone, which it did twice with the wind in the second quarter and twice more in the fourth to put the game out of reach.
Si Eiklenborg's 16-yard blast up the middle with 1:31 remaining in the game was the final farewell for 17 Gladbrook-Reinbeck seniors.
But it was missed opportunities early that will leave G-R wondering what could have been. The Rebels failed to reach paydirt on their first three trips inside the D-NH 30, including their first possession that followed a 13-yard punt and opened at the Wolverine 34. One of G-R's two lost fumbles foiled the first chance.
"The team that executed the best won," Olson commended.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck went into halftime trailing 14-0 but came out of the locker room a different team. The Rebels went to the 'hammer' formation on offense, pounding the ball off guard in a jumbo, power-I set. The opening drive of the third quarter started at the 18, idled briefly for a pair of fourth-down conversions, but stalled on fourth-and-1 when Bolt was denied the goal line on a quarterback sneak.
"We just said at halftime we're going to leave this field doing everything we've got, we're going to use everything we've got," Olson said. "We don't want to go out of here wondering if the hammer was going to work, so we're going to use everything we've got in the playbook."
The 20-play, 81-yard drive lasted 8:23 but came inches short on Zach Schwartz's 4-yard run on third down as Dike-New Hartford stood strong when it had to. Gladbrook-Reinbeck scored on its next possession, but the time lost was costly and the ensuing kickoff was critical.
Joblinske found a seam around the left side of the kickoff return and outran Rebel defenders who appeared to have the angle on him in a race to the pylon. Dike-New Hartford's good fortune on special teams stuck around when Byron Fritch's attempted squib kick instead caught a lot of air and spiraled, turned around in midair and landed on the G-R side of the 50-yard line before the Wolverines recovered the loose ball.
Bewildered and broken, G-R surrendered Rekers' second TD dive four plays later.
"That's what we were trying to do that whole time is get rid of that clock (in the third quarter)," Olson said. "The worst thing that could have happened was coming out of the third quarter still down 14-0, and after that we kind of let it get away from us."
The Rebels drove their ensuing possession 64 yards for a score, ending in Travis Freese's 3-yard run, but G-R's onside kick and recovery was waved off on an illegal touching penalty.
Dike-New Hartford barely outgained the Rebels, 296-283, and had the ball 9 minutes fewer than its hosts.
Schwartz didn't carry the ball until the second half but led Gladbrook-Reinbeck with 64 yards rushing. Freese had 61 and fullback Colby Luethje added 22.
Bolt finished 6-for-18 passing for 121 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the final play of the game. Petersen had two catches for 52 yards.