SERGEANT BLUFF| Truly a team effort for the Class 3A District 1 champions Friday night.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton’s defense forced four turnovers and had three quarterback sacks. Twice in the third quarter, the state’s fourth-ranked squad capitalized on those takeaways while stretching a 14-9 halftime lead.
“Interception and a fumble recovery,” smiled junior defensive back Drew Mathison, one of the defensive stars of the Warriors’ 47-25 first-round 3A state football playoff win over No. 8 Glenwood.
“It always helps. It was very important (to take advantage). That was a very good team. We capitalized and it really helped. We were going to go with a 5-3 (defense) tonight and make sure to tackle them low and fly to the ball.”
Mathison had one of those takeaways on the series following teammate Lavarius Warren’s fumble recovery. Sergeant Bluff-Luton (10-0), which will travel for this Friday’s quarterfinal game at No. 6 Harlan (9-1), went three-and-out after the takeaway, but two plays after Mathison’s third interception of the season, quarterback Daniel Wright (7 of 16 passing, 128 yards) fired the second of his three touchdown passes, a 10-yarder to Sam DeMoss for a 26-9 lead.
“We needed that. We needed a couple of extra possessions against them to win the turnover battle,” said Sergeant Bluff-Luton Coach Justin Smith. “We knew (Glenwood) was going to be big, physical and it was going to be tough to stop them from getting their four or five yards at a time a lot of times. We were fortunate, when we had a chance to make a play, we had kids make plays. I can’t say enough about our guys.”
Glenwood (8-2) entered the playoff game with a rushing offense that averaged 316.3 yards per game. The Rams were able to execute this phase, paced by quarterback Andrew Blum’s 130 yards and running back Cooper Silvius’ 102, but on the first play from scrimmage following DeMoss’ touchdown, DeMoss went to work, defensively.
The Rams sent Silvius on a jet sweep and DeMoss recovered a fumble at Glenwood’s 32-yard line. From there, Zach Shultz scored on a 32-yard run to increase the Warriors’ lead to 33-9.
Wright had completed just two of eight passes in the first half, but one of them was for a 62-yard touchdown to Ty Boekelman in the first quarter. The towering 6-foot-6, 185-pound sophomore quarterback had momentum on his side by halftime as he guided the Warriors to a five-point halftime lead as running back Britton Delperdang (197 yards rushing, 3 TDs) scored on an 18-yard run late in the second quarter.
Wright then engineered an 11-play, 72-yard scoring drive to begin the third quarter. He fired passes to three different receivers on the five-minute drive, hitting DeMoss and Derik Fitzgerald twice. In fact, Fitzgerald’s two-yard scoring catch increased the lead to 20-9.
“We have a lot of good weapons out there to throw to and they were great getting open,” said Wright. “I have to execute and then things work out. We knew we had a lot of speed and we knew we could create mismatches on the outside. That’s what we did. We executed and things fell in place.”
Glenwood took advantage of a shanked 10-yard Sergeant Bluff-Luton punt late in the second quarter, starting at the Warriors’ 43-yard line. Silvius, a 6-foot, 195-pound running back, had a 19-yard run to highlight a nine-play drive that concluded with his 5-yard touchdown run for a 9-7 lead.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton used big plays and undisciplined play by the Rams while scoring on the ensuing drive. A running into the kicker penalty on Dylan Laughlin’s punt gave the Warriors new life at its 44-yard line, where on the first play of the drive, Conner Groves had a catch at the Rams’ 44, followed by Delperdang’s 11-yard run.
Glenwood was charged with a late hit as Delperdang, en route to his eighth triple-digit yardage rushing total, was shoved out of bounds. On the next play, Delperdang, who in the fourth quarter scored on runs of 63 and 43 yards, had the 18-yard run to give the Warriors a 14-9 lead.