Trinity’s comeback falls short after Panthers build huge halftime leadIn 21 seasons as Rugby’s head football coach, Dickinson Trinity has been Scott Grochow’s Kryptonite.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
In 21 seasons as Rugby’s head football coach, Dickinson Trinity has been Scott Grochow’s Kryptonite.
On Friday night, the Titans were just another team in the Panthers’ way.
Rugby got behind senior running back Kyle Lovcik and sophomore quarterback Bradley Heidlebaugh as it built a 31-point halftime lead and held off a Trinity second-half charge for a 45-33 Class 2A, West Region victory at the Badlands Activities Center.
It was Grochow’s first career win over the Titans and it was never in doubt.
“What we talked about all week was the fact that they got beat up last week,” Grochow said. “They’re going to come out and they’re going to try and punch us in the mouth. We’ve got to be ready to answer. We’ve got to be ready to answer and play with some intensity and heart. Our kids really did.”
Lovcik rushed for 185 yards and two touchdowns and Heidlebaugh was 8 of 12 for 153 yards passing with three touchdowns to three different receivers as the Panthers (3-2, 2-1 West) moved ahead of the Titans in the West Region standings.
“We came out playing like we need to,” Lovcik said. “It’s kind of tough to do that when they come this far to play off the bus.”
Rugby could seemingly do no wrong in the first half as it staked a 38-7 halftime lead.
It was the second straight bad start for the Titans. They fell behind 36-7 at halftime last week against Minot Ryan before falling 50-13.
Aside from a nine-play, 61-yard touchdown drive, Trinity struggled mightily in the first half. It had a punt blocked, failed to recover an onside kick and had a penalty for ineligible receiver downfield negate what would have been a first-down pass on a fourth down.
Each miscue set up a Panthers touchdown. Rugby didn’t punt until late in the third quarter.
The Titans (2-3, 1-2 West) rallied in the second half behind senior quarterback Ben Gordon and senior tailback Brendin Steiner.
Gordon was 12 of 21 for 158 yards passing with three touchdowns — he had just 25 yards passing in the first half — while Steiner rushed for 74 yards on nine carries, including a 27-yard touchdown that trimmed Rugby’s lead to 38-20 with 3:24 remaining in the third quarter.
A 44-yard Gordon touchdown pass to Lane Herberholz over the middle with 4:50 remaining in the fourth quarter cut the lead to 38-27.
“In the second half, we talked, ‘Don’t lose any intensity, don’t lose any focus, you’ve got to stay focused,’” Grochow said. “I told them, I said ‘Guys, you’ve got to be ready. They’re not going to roll over here.’”
That was as close as Trinity would get as Lovcik ground out the clock, rushing six times on a seven-play drive that Heidlebaugh capped with a 24-yard TD run to make it 45-27.
Gordon drove Trinity down again, finding Jacob Volk for a 29-yard TD pass to cap the scoring.
“We played a good second half,” Trinity head coach Randy Gordon said. “We didn’t play a very good first half.”
Rugby 12 26 0 7 — 45
Trinity 0 7 13 13 — 33
R–Chris Hamilton 37 pass from Bradley Heidlebaugh (kick failed), 9:43.
R–Mackenzie Koenig 13 pass from Heidlebaugh (pass failed), 2:00.
R–Kyle Lovcik 2 run (Josh Michels pass from Heidelbaugh), 9:56.
T–Travis Heidt 5 pass from Ben Gordon (Connor Friske kick), 6:23.
R–Koenig 32 run (pass failed), 5:09.
R–Michels 13 pass from Heidlebaugh (pass failed), 3:53.
R–Lovcik 2 run (run failed), :00.
T–Jacob Volk 18 pass from Ben Gordon (kick failed), 8:59.
T–Brendin Steiner 27 run (Friske kick), 3:24.
T–Lane Herberholz 37 pass from Gordon (Friske kick), 4:50.
R–Heidlebaugh 24 run (Heidelbaugh kick), 2:42.
T–Volk 29 pass from Gordon (pass failed), 1:30.
RUSHING: R, Lovcik 35-185, Koenig 8-58, Heidlebaugh 5-30, Tanner Bernhardt 1-2. T, Steiner 9-74, Gordon 16-61, Herberholz 1-0.
PASSING: R, Heidlebaugh 8-12-1 153. T, Gordon 12-21-0 158, Heidt 1-1-0 6.
RECEIVING: R, Michels 3-39, Hamilton 2-73, Lovcik 2-28, Koenig 1-13. T, Volk 4-66, Jacob Good 4-32, Isiah Binstock 2-18, Herberholz 1-37.