WALKERTON — With Justin Bogunia ready to retire after 15 years at the helm of John Glenn football, the Falcons gave their coach at least one more week.
Glenn started strong, jumping out to a 21-0 lead and never looking back in a 35-14 reprisal win over visiting Culver Military in the two teams’ Class 3A Sectional 17 opener in Walkerton Friday night.
“I talked to the seniors before the game and the talk was that for the first time in my career I’m in your seat,” said Bogunia. “We’re going to coach it like it’s our last game, and you play it like it’s your last game. I told them this is new ground for me as well, and I’m on that emotional roller coaster with you guys. I said let’s just give it all we got, and let’s just go after them and see what happens, and they did.”
Playoff football wins aren’t necessarily to the swift or the strong, but are more often awarded to the team that makes the least mistakes. CMA simply made more mistakes, and the opportunistic Falcons were quick to capitalize.
The Eagles coughed up a fumble in the rain on the game’s opening series to give Glenn’s offense a short field to start with, which the Falcons converted into their first score of the night, and the home team took advantage of a pair of failed fourth down conversion gambles at midfield and deep in Culver territory with two more scoring drives in the first and third quarters en route to the sectional-opening win.
“I give a lot of credit to their coaching staff and their kids,” said CMA head coach Andy Dorrel. “They came out and didn’t allow the conditions to make a difference in their game plan. They were able to execute what they wanted to do, and they were able to win tonight.”
“I challenged our guys in the locker room. Even going into this week I told them ‘We’ve got to make plays tonight, whether it’s a fumble or a run into the end zone or getting that key block, somebody on our team’s got to make plays,’ and we had multiple ones,” said Bogunia. “(CMA) is a great team over there, and to think that we can come out here and do that tonight, I’m really proud of the way they played.”
Glenn sophomore Adam Dodson played a starring role in the win.
He carried the mail with more than half the Falcons’ rushes for the bulk of their yardage, as he racked up 220 yards on 27 carries with a 1-yard touchdown run on Glenn’s short opening drive and a two-point conversion run on the home team’s second score. The 5-10, 170-pound underclassman also led his team defensively with eight tackles in an outstanding two-way performance at linebacker.
“He was a big part of our game plan tonight. He’s a warrior,” said Bogunia. “He was our leading rusher last week, he’s really been coming on strong these last couple weeks, and he plays like a senior. Tonight he led us in rushing, but team-wise this season he’s our defensive leader too.”
The Glenn victory was a reprisal for an earlier 21-7 CMA win over the Falcons on the Eagles’ home turf back in Week 6.
CMA scored on three big plays of 37, 59 and 76 yards in that regular season match-up, but recent rains and an intermittent drizzle at the game made for a muddy field Friday night, neutralizing much of the Eagles’ big-play speed. CMA did break open a few big plays, including a 25-yard run by Joel Tinney in the third quarter and pass completions of 46 and 23 yards from Hayes Barnes, but the Eagles were largely unable to convert those breakaways into scores.
“We talked a lot about that — no big plays this time. Last time they did not have one drive that went multiple first downs into the end zone; it was bam, bam, and they’ve got some guys that are lightning in a bottle,” said Bogunia. “The Good Lord was looking after us tonight and had the great equalizer, I think, with speed. I think this will definitely help you when it comes to playing skilled kids.
“I have the utmost respect for Andy and what he does over there at CMA. He’s a class act and always has a class program so I feel good about our win because we beat a quality team.”
Glenn put the pressure on early as a pair of fumbles resulted in both of the Falcons’ scores in the first quarter.
Barnes fumbled on a sack on the third play of the game, and Glenn defensive end Justin Gierlowski recovered at the Culver 18-yard line to give the Falcon offense a short field at the 11:11 stop of the first period. Four plays and 1:26 later, Dodson punched in his team’s first score of the night to leave the Eagles trailing 6-0 with a failed two-point conversion run.
CMA went three and out on its next offensive series, and Dodson fumbled on the first play of the ensuing Glenn possession, but Michael Schmeltz recovered at the Culver 20 and the Falcons marched it in in six plays to go up 14-0 with Dodson’s two-point conversion run at the five minute stop of the frame.
Three plays later CMA was again forced to punt, and Glenn methodically marched 69 yards in 14 plays, a drive that included two big fourth down conversions — the first from a yard out on a quarterback sneak by Sean Liedtky at the CMA 25 and the second on a 7-yard touchdown strike from Liedtky to Schmeltz in the corner of the end zone that widened the gap to 21-0 following Schmeltz’s PAT with 7:43 remaining in the half.
With 4:22 left in the half, Chase Hortin recovered a Derek Hiler fumble to give the Eagles possession deep in Glenn territory, and CMA took advantage of the short field with a five-play, 30-yard scoring drive capped off by Barnes’ 15-yard run through traffic that cut his team’s deficit to 21-7 with the extra-point kick from Ryan Graf at the 1:46 stop of the clock.
But Schmeltz gave the Falcons good field position with a 34-yard kickoff return to start the second half, and Glenn tacked on another score with a 12-play, 53-yard drive culminating in a 2-yard touchdown run by Hunter Schuman to go up 29-7 with a two-point conversion pass from Liedtky to Hiler.
Tinney gambled on a fourth down conversion attempt with 12 yards to go at the Culver 39, the Falcons defense held, Dodson broke out for a 31-yard run, and Liedtky snuck in the backbreaker from the CMA 1-yard line to give Glenn a 35-7 advantage with 10:51 on the game clock.
CMA scored on its last possession with an eight play, 56-yard drive capped off by Tinney’s 2-yard run, but it was only academic with just a minute remaining in the game.
“We knew if we could get a stop to start the third quarter we’d have a shot. They completed a big fourth down play, and they just executed,” said Dorrel of Liedtky’s touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. “We put our hand in the quarterback’s face, put our kids in the right positions, but unfortunately for us they made the play.”
Glenn improves to 5-5 and advances to play Mishawaka Marian, a winner over Gary Wallace Friday, next week on the road in Mishawaka.
After Friday’s reprisal over CMA, the Falcons are hoping for a little more revenge against the Knights, who knocked off Glenn 22-14 in last year’s sectional semifinal.
“This is kind of deja vu for us; this is the second game of sectionals at Marian,” Bogunia said. “Hopefully that fuels us getting ready for the game, and I would say that little bit of a revenge factor with them knocking us off last year, and if we play like this we’ll be a tough team to beat, that’s for sure.”
Culver Military closes at 7-3 meanwhile. It was a tough finish to a special season for the Eagles, who went undefeated at home for the first time since 2005. That 5-0 homestand included signature wins over Class 2A No. 4 Churubusco in Week 7 and Class A No. 1 Lafayette Central Catholic in Week 4, a 14-12 thriller that snapped a 48-game win streak and earned Dorrel his career second Indianapolis Colts Coach of the Week distinction.
“I love this group of kids, and I wouldn’t rewind anything that happened in this season,” said Dorrel. “We had some tough injuries, some kids stepped up and filled spots for us. It shows a lot of character about our team when we don’t make excuses, and we just keep pressing forward. To win the last four in a row there and to be undefeated at home and to have some big wins this year makes me really excited to be a part of this football program.”
“I was really proud of our coaching staff this year in the way that we were able to put our kids in positions to earn the right to win games,” he added. “Watching them execute was a really great experience for us as a coaching staff.”
• JOHN GLENN 35,
CULVER MILITARY 14
Score by quarter
CMA: 0 7 0 7 — 14
Glenn: 14 7 8 6 — 35
Glenn — Adam Dodson run 1 (run fail), 9:45
Glenn — Derek Hiler run 10 (Dodson run), 5:00
Glenn — Michael Schmeltz 7-yd pass from Kyle Liedtky (Schmeltz kick), 7:43
CMA — Hayes Barnes run 15 (Ryan Graf kick), 1:46
Glenn — Hunter Schuman run 2 (Hiler pass from Liedtky), 4:55
Glenn — Liedtky run 1(kick fail), 10:51
CMA — Joel Tinney run 2 (Graf kick), 1:00
First downs: 14 6
Rushing: 54-276 34-118
Passing: 5-3-0 2-6-0
Passing yardage: 41 69
Fumbles-lost: 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yds lost: 8-60 7-45
Rushing: Dodson 27-220, 1 TD; Hiler 20-49, 1 TD
Passing: Liedtky 5-3-0 for 41, 1 TD
Receiving: Schmeltz 1-7, 1 TD; Jake Strong 1-20, Hiler 1-14
Rushing: Tinney 9-46, 1 TD; Barnes 12-17, 1 TD; Aramonti Phillips 7-25
Passing: Barnes 2-6-0 for 69
Receiving: Tristan Van de Velde 1-46, Pierre Byrne 1-23
Records: Glenn 5-5, CMA 7-3 (final)