VERNDALE — If anyone doubted how good Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley was they can stop.
Nine-Man football’s top-ranked and unbeaten Wolverines ran around and through the previously unbeaten and seventh-ranked Pirates for a 44-14 Pheasant Conference win Friday.
Wind, rain nor the Verndale defense could stop CGB’s running attack, which was led by Austin Maanum’s 230 yards rushing. Backfield mate Jason Montonye added 123 yards and quarterback Damon Gibson added 68 yards and two scores, helping the Wolverines to 437 yards rushing.
“We know we have speed and if our offensive line can sustain their blocks Jason Montonye, myself, and I guess anybody, can run behind them,” said Maanum. “If they sustain their blocks we know we can do good things.”
On CGB’s first play from scrimmage, Maanum ran around end and sprinted 72 yards for a 6-0 lead. Maanum had four rushing attempts that gained 15 yards or more. He scored his second touchdown with 53 seconds left in the half to give the Wolverines a 28-6 halftime lead.
“I knew their backs were fast and quick and stuff. Our whole thing was not to give them the 80-yard run and the 60-yard run, and we did,” said Verndale head coach Mike Mahlen. “Frankly, we didn’t tackle very well. We were there and we seemed to be in the right spots, but we missed a lot of tackles. We didn’t block very well and we didn’t tackle well and if you don’t do that you’re not going to win.”
Verndale’s Dillon Card tied the game at 6-6 when he found Will Kramer for a 9-yard touchdown pass.
CGB’s Gibson then scored two touchdowns in a minute. His first capped off an 8-play, 87-yard drive with a 1-yard plunge. Two plays later, Gibson, who also plays middle linebacker, picked off Card and returned it 43 yards for a 20-6 CGB lead.
“I told the kids at halftime the score could have been 14-12 or 14-14,” said Mahlen. “Take away a couple of mistakes, but that’s football.”
After both teams fumbled away their next possessions, Card was intercepted again. Eight plays later Maanum gave the Wolverines their halftime edge.
“Verndale has great tradition,” said Maanum. “We knew they were ranked coming in and that they were undefeated. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we wanted to put our stamp on it for the rest of the state. We kept a pretty close eye on Mr. Card.
“Turnovers were key. That fumble recovery we had was big because they were right inside our 5-yard line. That one was huge. That would have been six for them.”
CGB, the defending state champion, opened up the third quarter with a 15-play, 65-yard drive that Gibson ended with a 4-yard TD run. The drive took seven minutes off the clock.
A poor kickoff essentially turned into an onside kick, which the Wolverines recovered. Five plays later, Montonye scored from 18 yards out and CGB held a comfortable 44-6 edge.
Dakota Finck jitterbugged 69 yards late in the fourth quarter for Verndale’s final touchdown. The senior back finished with 98 rushing yards. Card rushed for 82 yards and was 6-of-8 passing for 32 more yards. His only two incompletions were interceptions.
“We found out what we need to do to be a better team and to compete with a team like this,” said Mahlen. “We found out the things we have to do better and I think the kids could see that. I knew coming into tonight we would find out how good we really were and we did. We’re not who we thought we were.”
Clinton-G-B 20 8 16 0 — 44
Verndale 6 0 0 8 — 14
CGB-Austin Maanum 72 run (run failed) 8:38
V-Will Kramer 9 pass from Dillon Card (run failed) 5:53
CGB-Damon Gibson 1 run (Gibson run) 3;53
CGB-Gibson 43 interception return (run failed) 2:52
CGB-Maanum 18 run (Maanum run) 53.7
CGB-Gibson 4 run (Mike Bauer pass from Gibson) 4:56
CGB-Jason Montonye 18 run (Gibson run) 3:32
V-Dakota Finck 69 run (James Kveton pass from Card) 3:19
Rushes-yards: V 29-207, CGB 56-437
Pass comp-att-int-yds: V 6-8-2-32, CGB 1-3-25
Total offense: V 37-237, CGB 59-462
Rushing: V-Dakota Finck 8-98, Dillon Card 18-82, Colter Ehrmantraut 2-10, Andy Bounds 3-17; CGB-Austin Maanum 23-230, Damon Gibson 12-68, Jason Montonye 13-125, Cormick Combellick 2-1, Dillon Bork 2-(-2), Noah Cadwell 1-11, Sam Bauer 2-10, team 1-(-6)
Passing: V-Card 6-8-32; CGB-Gibson 1-2-25, Jordan Bauer 0-1-0
Receiving: V-Will Kramer 2-19, Eric Blaha 1-7, Ehrmantraut 1-4, Marcos Gomez 1-0, James Kveton 1-2; CGB-Zak Adelman 1-25