INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Gavin Glenn will be able to sit back and enjoy his latest accomplishment at home.
A place where Coe’s senior quarterback hadn’t spent much time this week. Glenn was displaced from his apartment by flooding of the Cedar River, forcing him to stay at teammates’ houses until Thursday.
The inconvenience didn’t stop Glenn from delivering when the Kohawks needed him most, connecting with Demetrius Harper for an 11-yard touchdown with 1:35 left and lifting Coe to a 37-34 victory over Wartburg in an Iowa Conference contest Saturday at Clark Field.
Glenn finished with 257 yards passing, including two scores.
“The first half I played like I hadn’t been at home all week,” Glenn said with a laugh. “I’ve been on a beanbag couch for the last couple days and house to house. Glad to be back home but glad to get the win.”
The entire Coe team endured a quirky week. It began with a long bus ride back from a victory over Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln, Neb. The Kohawks held a quick meeting and then helped with sandbagging efforts Sunday. Then, they dealt with odd schedules during preparation.
“This was an unusual week for us,” Coe Coach Tyler Staker said. “It was a real short week. To come down to the wire and come away with a 37-34 win tells you what this team is made of.”
Coe looked like it could come up short when quarterback Matt Sacia plunged in for a 1-yard TD, giving Wartburg two touchdowns in less than a four-minute stretch and 34-30 lead with 2:41 remaining.
Harper, who hadn’t caught a pass all day, burned the defenders and hauled in a 60-yard pass to the Knights’ 12.
“My favorite thing about football is press corner,” Harper said. “I go out every day in practice and work hard at it and when I saw it I knew I had to take a chance. Gavin threw it up to me.”
Two plays later, Harper caught the decisive touchdown. He received grief earlier in the game for shying away from a catch and he wasn’t going to let it happen again. Harper jumped and came down in bounds of the near sideline.
“My quarterback had faith in me,” said Harper, praising the offensive line’s protection. “The coaches trusted me with the game on the line. He threw me a great ball and got me there.
“Both were amazing passes.”
Glenn also hit Seth Williams for a 71-yard TD that tied the game, 10-10, in the second quarter.
Coe (5-0, 3-0 IIAC) took its first lead two possessions later when Trevor Heitland squirted through the line off right tackle and dashed 64 yards for a score. Heitland amassed 239 offensive yards, including 204 on the ground.
“Trevor is electrifying,” Staker said. “He is a talent in the backfield and at receiver. He is a guy that defenses have to key on him because he is so dynamic. He can hit a home run from anywhere on the field.”
Wartburg (2-2, 2-1) actually outgained Coe, 532-514, but the Kohawks came up with critical stops. The Knights drove to the Coe 1 on their first possession after the break but were held to a field goal. It was the second time the Knights had to settle for three points after reaching the red zone.
“We’ve been pretty strong down on the goal line all year,” said Coe’s Robbie Peters, who had a sack on Wartburg’s final drive that ended with an Austin Troendle interception. “That showed today, too.”
Peters lived a defensive lineman’s fantasy with 6:50 to go in the fourth. The 6-foot-4, 243-pounder picked off Sacia and rumbled 50 yards, giving Coe a 30-20 edge.
“It was a short pass so I tried to put my hands up, hoping to block it, and lo and behold, it was a low one that landed right in the hands.
“I had to tuck it away and don’t get it stripped. I ran as hard as I could. It all felt like a dream after it happened.”
Coe seemed to answer every time Wartburg produced a big play, like Sacia’s 72-yard TD to Collin Werkman and a 67-yard score to Griffin Brennecke. Sacia finished with 379 yards and three TDs, rushing for another.
The Kohawks showed their resiliency, especially that game-winning drive.
“I’m so proud of our guys,” Staker said. “They didn’t quit. They believed we could get the job done. When our backs were against the wall, we made some big plays down the stretch.”
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