SERGEANT BLUFF – The unthinkable happened for Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley here Friday night and Sergeant Bluff-Luton took full advantage.
All-everything quarterback J.T. Van't Hul of BHRV left the game with an ankle injury midway through the second quarter and the Class 2A top-ranked Nighthawks never recovered.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton, ranked No. 9 in Class 3A, scored 28 unanswered points and rallied for a 35-21 victory in the final non-district contest for each of the heavyweight combatants.
Van't Hul had already rushed for 113 yards on just eight carries after he ripped off a 17-yarder with six minutes left in the third quarter. The senior, who had accounted for nearly 1,000 total yards in his first three games, came up limping after being tackled and never returned.
His backup Keyton Moser finished off the scoring drive and when Brayton Van Kekerix scored on a 1-yard run with 3:40 left in the first half, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley took a 21-7 lead.
As you would almost certainly expect, things changed dramatically in the second half. The Nighthawks failed to score on seven possessions while SB-L's offense kicked into gear.
Britton Delperdang was the workhorse, carrying the football a whopping 40 times for 251 yards and a touchdown. Delperdang's adept running opened things up for junior quarterback Daniel Wright, who threw for 204 yards and four scores.
His 20-yard strike to Conner Groves less than a minute into the fourth quarter put the Warriors in front for good and Wright added a 32-yard TD pass to Tristan Navrkal late in the game to sew it up. Wright also had a 9-yard touchdown pass to Deric Fitzgerald and a beautifully executed 76-yard pitch-and-catch to Spencer Kleene.
“We made some halftime adjustments and came out and executed and had a lot of guys step up in the second half,” said Wright, who completed 16 of 26 passes. “It's definitely nice when Britton can run the ball up the middle so then they have to load the box and we can throw the ball outside. Britton's an incredible runner and it's fun to watch.”
Delperdang's 8-yard run was SB-L's only touchdown of the first half. He had three runs of over 30 yards while running his season total to 642 yards.
The Warriors (3-1) scored on their first two possessions of the second half with Wright connecting with Fitzgerald on fourth down and hooking up with Kleene down the sidelines for the longest play of the game.
“It wasn't a good first half and I've got a feeling if their quarterback plays the second half we might be playing extra innings right now,” Sergeant Bluff-Luton Coach Justin Smith said. “We got really outphysicalled in the first half and in the second half we played much better.
“Offensively we moved the ball and it was the same guys on defense for them. But it's a shame the young man got hurt or we would probably still be playing right now. We got a little better this week. We've played three of the best teams in the state in these first four games and we're relatively healthy so we're hoping it propels us and we keep getting better.”
Moser did his best to try and move the Nighthawks' offense, passing for 109 yards. But Van't Hul's talented shoes are very big to fill.
“He's going to be fine, he's got a sprained ankle,” BHRV Coach Cory Brandt said. “It's a regular sprained ankle, we have to try and heal him up fast and that's what we'll do. He just wasn't able to go as fast as he needed to go.
“It was good work for our backup, Keyton's a good kid and he battled his butt off under a lot of pressure. They brought a lot of heat and made it real difficult for us but we fought, it wasn't that our kids didn't battle. We're playing a real good team and we respect the heck out of them. We learned some things tonight about how hard we have to work to beat a team like this.”
Van't Hul raced 30 yards for a touchdown with 4:55 left in the first quarter and then after he ripped off a 43-yard dash, 15 more yards were tacked on because of a facemask which led to a 1-yard quarterback sneak, making it 14-0 before the end of he first stanza.
SB-L's Sam DeMoss recovered a fumble deep in Nighthawk territory, setting up Delperdang's touchdown run.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton plays at Sioux City Bishop Heelan in its district opener next week. Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley opens district play against Central Lyon/George-Little Rock.