They took one on the chin and then they gave it right back.
A week after suffering their worst lost since 2005 to Sutton at home in a 38-0 contest, Wilber-Clatonia showed that a change in mentality can go a long way in dictating an outcome of a football game.
“We actually hit them instead of letting them beat the crap out of us – like what happened last week. We took it to them a little bit,” Wilber-Clatonia head coach Lynn Jurgens said of his team’s performance against Fremont Bergan on Friday.
The head coach’s statement is telling for what the Wolverines did to the Knights during their second home game of the 2018 season.
Wilber-Clatonia got back to what they do best – running the ball effectively – and the team’s explosive return man, Tad Moldenhauer, once again showed why teams are foolish to punt or kick to him.
Moldenhauer found the endzone on a 75-yard kick return with 4:56 left in the second quarter and the Wolverines ground attack accumulated three touchdowns in their 38-14 win over Fremont Bergan.
“It feels great,” Moldenhauer said of his team’s victory. “We missed a lot of assignments last week, had a bad week. We had a good week of practice, came back, fought hard, and did what we needed to do. We really wanted this one.”
Wilber-Clatonia found themselves in a defensive battle after one quarter of play on Friday. The Wolverines’ field goal on the first drive of the game was the only points to go on the scoreboard after one quarter of play.
Big plays soon ensued for Wilber-Clatonia as Coltin Rezabek blocked a punt, recovered it, and then scored on a rushing touchdown just minutes later to give the home team a 9-0 lead after a missed PAT with 10:42 left in the second quarter.
On the following drive Fremont Bergan found the endzone on an 11-yard Jake Ridder pass to Eli Herink. The touchdown was set up on the Knights’ first play from scrimmage as Villwok broke a 65-yard rush, putting his team deep in Wolverines territory.
Fremont Bergan took a brief lead on their next offensive possession when Ridder dashed into the endzone on a designed quarterback run that went for 56 yards.
The kick return after the Knights’ score was returned by Moldenhauer for his second return touchdown of the season, giving his team a 17-14 lead. The Wolverines never looked back from that point forward.
“He’s a special kid,” Jurgens said of Moldenhauer. “He’s tough. I’m surprised anybody punts to him. We’re lucky they do because that’s a big part of what we do.”
Earlier in the game, Moldenhauer also returned an 80-yard punt return to the house but a clipping call eliminated the score. The junior talked about his emotions after the punt return and the how rewarding it was when he found the endzone on the kick return.
“Obviously, it felt good. I saw an open path. It was all blockers. I had an open way right there. I saw a flag – it hurt,” Moldenhauer said of his punt return TD that was called back. “That kick return felt great. It got the team going again. We needed it big right there.”
The Wolverines weren’t done putting points on the board in the first half after the junior’s big return.
Coltin Rezabek made a circus catch on a toss from Michael Pulliam that went the safeties hands and then bobbled by Rezabek before bringing it and an eluding multiple defenders on his way to a 35-yard score with 26.2 seconds left in the half.
“That’s kind of one of our home run plays and I think our quarterback threw it way late. He was wide open early, but he got a little pressure and stepped up. Then they kind of recovered and we got lucky it went through the safety’s hands and it takes pretty good concentration to catch it. Then he makes a nice run at the end to get in the endzone,” Jurgens said.
The touchdown gave Wilber-Clatonia a 24-14 lead at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter the Wolverines closed the game out with a pair of rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. One from Pulliam on a 1-yard QB sneak and the other coming on a run by Rezabek.
Jurgens was not completely satisfied after the game, knowing his team has plenty to work on, but he voiced his satisfaction for his team’s effort throughout the game.
“We still got a lot of work to do. We still make way too many mistakes, we got a lot to fix yet,” he said. “But the biggest thing I was happy with was our effort. We really played hard tonight, and I didn’t think we did that last week at all times. So that was good to see, it starts with that.”
Pulliam finished the game with 106 yards and a TD through the air on 9-for-16 passing. He added 23 yards on 12 carries on the ground. Tad Moldenhauer led all rushers with 29 yards on five carries.
Rezabek led the team in tackles with 15 and 2 ½ tackle for loss.
Wilber-Clatonia will head to Louisville (1-2) this upcoming Friday.