GLADBROOK-"It's our time" read the sign leading to Gladbrook-Reinbeck's home football field. It turned out to be Carson Parker's.
Parker's 4-yard touchdown reception with 1:02 remaining, coupled with ample controversy, lifted Dike-New Hartford to a 21-20 win against the Rebels on Wednesday night. The Wolverines (8-2) advanced in the Class 1A state playoffs and for the second straight year ended Gladbrook-Reinbeck's season.
With the Wolverines facing fourth down at the Gladbrook-Reinbeck 4-yard line, Dike-New Hartford head coach Don Betts called on Parker, a sophomore with one previous catch in the game, to make the biggest play of the season.
"The cornerback on that side was sagging off a bit and we ran a five-yard route curling back," Parker said.
It was quarterback Josh Rekers' third touchdown pass of the game.
"We thought that we could get that route all night long and we saved it for the right time," Betts said.
The play silenced the home crowd which had been lustily contesting a penalty moments earlier. On 3rd-and-6 at the 12-yard line, Rekers lofted a pass toward receiver Sean Morgan who ran into a stationary Cobren Bird. The pass sailed out of the back of the end zone as a flag flew toward Bird's feet.
The penalty, on Bird, gave Dike-New Hartford a first down.
"When the ball's in the air everybody gets the right for the ball and (the official) said our guy touched (Morgan). His judgment was different than my judgment," Rebels coach John Olson said. "It's hard to justify that to a 17- or 18-year old kid that did everything the right way and gets it taken away as much as Dike deserved to win the game, I'm going to tell you right now that we didn't lose that game."
Parker assured the victory with an interception, his second of the game, with 52 seconds left.
Dike-New Hartford couldn't have started worse. The Wolverines had two turnovers and three penalties in the first quarter, enabling Gladbrook-Reinbeck to run 21 of the game's first 26 plays. The first half, though, couldn't have ended better for the Wolverines. Trailing 12-7, and with Gladbrook-Reinbeck 22-yards away from adding to the lead, Parker intercepted a pass in the end zone. Not content with a defensive stop, the Wolverines responded two plays later with an 82-yard touchdown pass. Rekers rolled left and zipped a pass downfield to Royce Pool. Bolt, who had nine interceptions this season, nearly intercepted the pass, but the ball eluded him as did Pool who out ran the rest of the Rebels over the next 60 yards for a stunning TD with 28 seconds remaining.
"That was a physical mistake," Olson said. "We knew what was coming. We had our defensive back over the top and he didn't make the play, and that happens. We all make mistakes."
It was Pool's second touchdown; his first a 16-yard strike on fourth down gave the Wolverines a 7-6 lead. Gladbrook-Reinbeck responded quickly. After two consecutive penalties, Bolt kept on an option play and dashed 65 yards. Four plays later Ryan Strohbehn scored from two-yards out.
Gladbrook-Reinbeck (8-2) led 20-14 after Bolt's 52-yard touchdown pass to Bird, and were close to adding to the lead when Dike-New Hartford's Cody Palmer recovered a fumble at his own 11. The Rebels stopped the Wolverines' ensuing possession, but a holding penalty stunted a put-away drive and gave the Wolverines the ball back with 4:40 remaining - enough time for the winning drive.
"I'll get to coach again, but the seniors don't get to play football again," Olson said. "We didn't lose this game and I'll go to my grave telling you that."