GLENWOOD, Iowa — Down 10 in the fourth quarter to a senior-laden team probably playing for its playoff lives, Creston/Orient-Macksburg didn’t wilt.
The Panthers forced turnovers on all four of Glenwood’s fourth-quarter possessions, and sophomore Kylan Smallwood’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Zach Carlson with 9:45 left stood for the winning score in the Panthers’ 27-24 Class 3-A, District 7 victory over Glenwood.
“These guys have been in a lot of games like this,” Creston/O-M coach Brian Morrison said. “We’re a fourth-quarter team. Our program’s built on that. I think it showed again tonight. When we get to the fourth quarter, we don’t look at the scoreboard. We try to win the next play. I’m super proud of them.”
Creston, rated fourth in the state and third in western Iowa (Class 4-A/3-A), improved to 7-0 overall and 5-0 in district play, all but assuring a trip to the playoffs. Glenwood (5-2, 3-2), rated ninth in the state and fourth in WI, severely damaged its postseason hopes.
“I just feel bad,” Glenwood coach Cory Faust said. “I feel bad that it didn’t turn out better. They left it all out here on the field though, and I can’t ask for anything more.”
After a 5-yard punt by Creston, Glenwood took over at the Panther 33 with 6:56 left in the game. Kolten Wilwerding ran for 14 yards to the 19, but after two incompletions, Chase Shiltz picked off Wilwerding.
Glenwood had one last chance, taking the ball at its 29 with 3:03 left. Nate Nebel ran for 18 yards and Wilwerding hit Andrew Blum for 11. But the next two plays produced just two yards, and Cody Tanner sacked Wilwerding to bring up a fourth and 13. Evan Jacobson picked off the pass to ice the victory.
“When it came to crunch time, we really turned it up,” Morrison said.
Shiltz carried 22 times for a hard-earned 89 yards in the win for Creston.
“I think the condition that we have and the way we competed the whole game helped us pull through in the fourth quarter,” Shiltz said.
Smallwood completed 7 of 14 for 181 yards and two scores. Wilwerding completed 19 of 33 for 231 yards and a touchdown, but threw three interceptions as the Rams had five turnovers.
It was a bitter loss for Glenwood, which has been building to this season for several years.
“It’s going to be really hard to come back next week, but I know these guys and I know they’ll do it,” Faust said.
Trailing 14-10 at the half, Glenwood took command in the third, going up 17-14 on Cole Loeffelbein’s 1-yard touchdown run and 24-14 on Wilwerding’s 17-yard quarterback draw with 52 seconds left in the third.
Glenwood outgained Creston 392-372.
Both teams scored in the final two minutes of the first half.
Trailing 7-3, Mavrick Decker hauled in a fingertip catch from Wilwerding at full speed and completed the 63-yard score to give the Rams their first lead at 10-7 with 1:39 left in the second quarter.
Glenwood thought it had recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but Carlson was ruled down. The Panthers marched 70 yards in seven plays. Carlson had a 39-yard catch and Shiltz followed with an 18-yard diving reception. Shiltz ran in from the 1 with seven seconds left to give Creston a 14-10 halftime advantage.
With Creston giving the speedy Decker plenty of cushion, Wilwerding hit him on a number of short passes to loosen up the defense. Wilwerding completed 14 for 19 for 181 yards in the first half.
Creston/O-M (7-0, 5-0).....7 7 0 13—27
At Glenwood (5-2, 3-2)......0 10 14 0—24
COM: Zach Carlson 62 pass from Kylan Smallwood (Evan Jacobson kick)
G: FG Seth Little 28
G: Mavrick Decker 63 pass from Kolten Wilwerding (Little kick)
COM: Chase Shiltz 1 run (Jacobson kick)
G: Cole Loeffelbein 1 run (Little kick)
G: Wilwerding 17 run (Little kick)
COM: Shiltz 3 run (Jacobson kick)
COM: Carlson 33 pass from Smallwood (kick blocked)
Rushing: COM, Chase Shiltz 22-89, Zach Carlson 7-51, Kylan Smallwood 8-51. G, Cole Loeffelbein 16-68, Nate Nebel 6-49, Mavrick Decker 1-19, Jake Clark 3-9, Kolten Wilwerding 10-25, team 1-(-9).
Passing: COM, Kylan Smallwood 7-14-0, 181 yards, 2 TDs; Chase Shiltz 0-3-0. G, Kolten Wilwerding 19-33-3, 231 yards, 1 TD.
Receiving: COM, Zach Carlson 5-165, Chase Shiltz 2-16. G, Mavrick Decker 8-120, Andrew Blum 7-79, Cole Loeffelbein 2-19, Nate Nebel 1-9, Cody Buresh 1-4.