It was a bitter pill to swallow.
Clinging to a 9-7 lead with just 40 seconds left to play, Glenwood saw its football season come to a heartbreaking end last Wednesday night at Ram Memorial Field, when Denison tailback Jesse Preul darted 58 yards for a touchdown, lifting the Monarchs to a stunning 14-9 Class 3A substate victory.
“It was the big play,” Glenwood coach Brian Albert said. “If that would have happened earlier, we would have had time to rebound and recover.”
Preul’s improbable run came on a third-and-1 situation and the Monarchs out of timeouts. Initially, Preul was running laterally toward the first-down marker, but then made a quick cut in front of the Denison sideline before making his dash to the end zone.
The touchdown run set off a celebration on the Denison sideline and silenced the stunned Glenwood fans who were preparing to celebrate the Ram’s first postseason win in 15 years.
The night began on a high note for Glenwood as the Rams marched down the field for a touchdown on the opening possession of the game. Senior tailback Dylan Blankenship capped the nearly eight-minute drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. The extra-point attempt was unsuccessful.
The Monarchs answered Glenwood’s touchdown with a scoring drive of their own early in the second quarter. A 56-yard pass completion from quarterback Ricky Torres to Edwin Jovel set up a four-yard TD plunge from Preul. Denison converted its extra-point to take a 7-6 lead.
The second quarter ended with Glenwood driving to the Denison 5-yard line and reclaiming the lead, 9-7, on a 22-yard field goal by Michael Lawler.
Glenwood kept the Monarch offense in check for most of the second half. Linemen Colin White and Joe Morgan both came up with big hits on Torres to thwart a Denison scoring threat early in the fourth quarter.
Utilizing their power, running game and some timely passing from quarterback Nick Uphoff, the Rams appeared ready to ice the win in the final five minutes of the game when they punched the ball inside the Denison 5-yard line. However, the Monarchs’ goal-line defense stiffened and stopped Uphoff for a two-yard gain on fourth and goal from the 4 with 4:15 to play.
The Monarchs passed their way out of the hole and drove into Ram territory before being stopped on downs. Glenwood took possession of the ball with 1:57 left but was unable to pick up a first down. The Rams punted the ball away, setting the Monarchs up at their own 33 with 57 seconds remaining.
Preul’s subsequent touchdown scamper was a devastating blow to Glenwood, but the Rams refused to throw in the towel. Eliot Lincoln fielded the ensuing kickoff and nearly broke free before being taken down out of bounds near midfield. With just 30 seconds remaining, Uphoff completed a pair of passes downfield before the game ended with receiver Grant Loeffelbein being tackled near the Monarch 20 after the successful execution of hook-and-ladder pass and pitch.
“We do feel good about the season previous to tonight,” Albert said. “Hopefully, that becomes a stronger memory than this last game. That will be tough for these seniors.”
Albert praised the efforts of his senior class this season, particularly for the leadership they’ve demonstrated to underclassmen.
“We’ll have other kids trying to step up physically, but the leadership characteristic is awful big. We have three offensive linemen and a running back who has 27 straight starts, so there’s experience and ability. The D-backs and the receiving corps are all pretty much two-year starters.
“That makes it tough for them. They put in a lot of time and have a lot of experience.”
Statistically, Glenwood finished the night with 362 yards of total offense, compared to 283 for the Monarchs. Blankenship accounted for more than half of the Rams’ offensive output, totaling 176 rushing yards on 30 carries. Uphoff completed 8-of-14 passes for 118 yards. Loeffelbein had a pair of receptions for 34 yards while Trent Jameson hauled in two for 25 yards and Josh Mathews had two for 24.
Defensively for Glenwood, Cole Darrow recorded a team-high 15 tackles. Uphoff was in on nine stops and Morgan tallied eight.
The Rams finished the season with a 6-4 record. The Monarchs improved to 6-4 and advanced to a matchup against Sioux City Heelan.
Denison 00 07 00 07-14
Glenwood 06 03 00 00-09
GLN – Dylan Blankenship, 4 run (kick failed).
DEN – Jesse Preul, 4 run (Carl Reitz kick).
GLN – Michael Lawler, 22 field goal.
DEN – Preul, 58 run (Reitz kick).