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Deja Blue

Gladbrook-Reinbeck downs Denver in state semifinal rematch

November 22, 2015
ROSS THEDE - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

CEDAR FALLS - Jake Schuman would have done anything to get back the momentum he felt was lost when he was sacked for a safety late in the first half.

Count on a fellow senior captain to pick up his teammate and carry the load, even when it required an all-out sprint the length of the field.

Colton Dinsdale returned the opening kickoff of the second half 93 yards for a touchdown to catalyze the Gladbrook-Reinbeck football team down the stretch in its eventual 19-16 overtime victory over district rival Denver in Friday's Class A state semifinal game at the UNI-Dome.

Walker Thede's redeeming 22-yard field goal in overtime erased the bitter taste of the 31-yarder he missed in a 16-all game with 18 seconds left in regulation, providing the points necessary to send the seventh-ranked Rebels (11-2) past Denver and into the final round for the second year in a row.

"It's awesome, we really want to win it this year, we don't want to get second again," said Dinsdale, thinking back to a 28-24 championship game loss to Logan-Magnolia in last year's title game. "We just want to get over that hump of second (place) and just get first."

Gladbrook-Reinbeck will face an unranked Akron-Westfield (11-2) contingent that took down its third straight rated foe in Friday's second semifinal. The Westerners knocked off No. 9 Mount Ayr, 36-35, scoring the go-ahead points on a two-point conversion pass with 1:16 left.

The Rebels provided the first dose of drama to start the day's slate of semifinal football games, avenging a regular-season loss by limiting Denver's daunting ground game to just 195 yards of total offense. The Cyclones (11-2), who ran for 264 yards and attempted only one pass against G-R in their rainy 21-7 District 4 win back in Week 4, went three-and-out after Dinsdale's go-ahead dash.

"All my blockers were right there, they left me a gap, I looked at the jumbotron, knew I was getting chased by someone so I was trying to do a little snake and luckily I scored," said Dinsdale, who is averaging 47 yards per kickoff return this year. "Right when I got to the 50 I was on 'E' (empty) and I needed to boost it up a little bit, but ... I knew I had to beat them. They're really solid on defense. I knew if I got tackled on the 5 we might not score so I knew we needed to get that touchdown just to give us more momentum and get us pumped up. It was big for us."

Dinsdale's second kickoff return touchdown of the season was the spark Schuman was trying to provide until the G-R quarterback was bottled up in the backfield. Izaak Shedenhelm snared him in the end zone, and Schuman was penalized for intentionally grounding when his flailing attempt to release a pass spiked right in front of him.

The play pushed Denver's lead to 9-6 and took the thrust out of a Gladbrook-Reinbeck squad that had just scored on its previous possession and had gotten the ball back on Hunter Lott's interception at the Rebels' 12-yard line. But two plays later, Schuman scrambled too far back trying to find an open receiver, and Denver's stout defense capitalized.

"We knew that we needed to swing momentum (after that) and Colton comes out and gets a kick return and now we're ahead," said Schuman. "It was completely different than how we went into the half."

After forcing the shellshocked Cyclones to punt following Dinsdale's big play, Gladbrook-Reinbeck's ensuing drive covered 72 yards on 12 plays but stalled out despite the resurgence of its running attack. All-state tailback Eric Stoakes, who finished with 115 yards on 25 carries, toted the pigskin nine times for 73 yards and had a 10-yard reception during a possession that was plagued by a pair of penalties. G-R settled for Thede's 21-yard field goal, and the Rebels leapt out to their largest lead, 16-9.

Neither team gained a first down on their next possessions, and Denver took advantage of favorable field position shortly thereafter. The Cyclones started at their own 45, ran the ball 13 times for 60 yards, converted a fourth-and-9 and found paydirt in the form of Fletcher Anderson's 5-yard touchdown run with 8:58 left in the game. Marius Mielke's extra-point kick tied the score at 16-apiece, and set the stage for a frenetic finish.

Gladbrook-Reinbeck's next drive appeared to fizzle shy of midfield, but a fake punt pass from Schuman to Tyler Pierce gained 39 yards and got the Rebels deep into Denver territory. An offensive pass interference penalty negated what would have been a go-ahead touchdown, and Eli Barrett picked off Schuman's fourth-and-22 pass at the goal line.

Another empty possession for Denver was nullified by a 65-yard punt, sending the Rebels back to their own 8 with 4:06 left in regulation. G-R delved deeper into its playbook and pulled out designed runs for Schuman. The senior signal caller, who was thrust into last year's semifinal game against Denver after starting QB Camden Kickbush left with a broken collarbone, made the plays he longed for at halftime.

Schuman hooked up with Matt Roeding for a 12-yard gain on third-and-12, then scampered for 11 yards before being brought down by his face mask. The penalty propelled the Rebels to their own 44, and Schuman hooked up with Dinsdale for a 14-yard pass play. Schuman carried the ball three of G-R's next four plays, highlighted by a 22-yard scramble that set the Rebels up with a first down at the Cyclones' 15 and 1:25 left on the clock.

Denver knocked the Rebels off the throttle and forced a field goal with 18 seconds left, but Thede's try from a season-long distance of 31 yards sailed wide left.

Denver took a knee to send the game to overtime, but Gladbrook-Reinbeck won the coin flip and forced the Cyclones to try on offense first. Cameron Murphy stopped Shedenhelm in the backfield for a 3-yard loss, and Denver eventually settled for a 29-yard field goal attempt.

Mielke's kick sailed true, but the Cyclones were whistled for an illegal procedure penalty for not having enough players on the line of scrimmage. Backed up five yards, Mielke missed on the 34-yard try.

"He's had a lot of kicks this year, just kicked it too far to the left," said Denver head coach Rhett Barrett. "That's the way it goes."

Thede made the most of his second chance at a game-winner, sneaking his 22-yard field goal inside the right upright and sending the Rebels into a celebratory frenzy.

"I knew Walker would overcome what he just did," Dinsdale said. "I knew he missed it left but I knew he was going to overcome it and make it. He's a heck of a player."

It was a whale of a day for Thede, who hauled in a 34-yard pass in double coverage to set up his own second-quarter touchdown. Schuman connected with the sophomore soccer standout on a short out route to get the Rebels within 7-6 with 5:30 left in the first half, though Thede's extra-point kick was blocked.

Schuman, who was 3-for-16 for 41 yards in G-R's district loss at Denver, finished the semifinal rematch 13-for-21 for 147 yards. The Rebels outgained the Cyclones 300-195 in total offense in denying Denver a title shot for the second year in a row.

"We don't really talk about, 'Hey, let's get to the Dome, let's go to the championship.' It takes some luck along the way," said G-R head coach John Olson, a Denver native. "It takes some special plays along the way. We just talk about literally keeping your emotions in check, play with passion, not so much energy; that way if something bad happens, you can respond pretty good from it."

Denver's running backs - Shedenhelm and Mitch Siech - both finished with 67 yards rushing, though Siech sat out the final 5:09 of regulation and overtime after sustaining a shoulder injury. He was hit hard by G-R linebacker Thomas Mussig running a jet option play that ended in a fumble Denver was fortunate to recover.

Siech received treatment on the sideline and tried to return to the game but was back out on the field for just one play.

"I know those guys are great athletes and hats off to them, they played a phenomenal game and they deserve to be in the finals," Siech said of the Rebels. "We moved the ball but just made costly mistakes, and you can't do that against a great team like G-R."


The Class A state championship game will be the second of three finals contested on Thursday in the UNI-Dome. The Rebels and Westerners square off at 1:36 p.m. ... This was Gladbrook-Reinbeck's first overtime game since defeating Hudson 21-18 on Oct. 7, 2011. ... Stoakes finished with more than 100 yards rushing for the fourth time in as many playoff games, upping his season total to 244 carries and 1,346 yards. ... Three of Dinsdale's 15 kick and punt returns this season have gone for touchdowns, including one each against Grundy Center. ... Dinsdale led the Rebel defense with 10 total tackles (4 solo, 12 assist), while Mussig had eight and both Josh Cooley and Tyler Eiffler had six. Murphy and Jacob Walters were both credited with half a sack.



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