GLADWIN – Was this the win that gets Gladwin over the hump? The Flying G’s defeated Dexter, a Division 2 school, 26-20 last Friday night. The game was eerily reminiscent of the Meridian game a week earlier. Gladwin jumped out to a 20-0 lead, but when Dexter took a screen pass for a 20-yard touchdown the G’s found themselves tied 20-20 with 3:08 left in the game.
This time it was Gladwin that made the winning plays. After the Dexter kick was returned to the 25-yard line the Flying G’s were 75 yards away from the end zone with a little over three minutes to play. Logan Kokotovich gained two yards on a first down run. Aaron Kozlow then ran for four yards on a reverse making it third and four at the 31. With time running out Gladwin went to the air on the next play completing a 32-yard pass from Nick Wheeler to Kaden McDonald.
With the ball on the Dexter 38 Gladwin went back to the run to take time off the clock. Wheeler ran for 10 yards to the 27 on first down. Kokotovich was stopped for no gain on the ensuing first down play brining up second and ten at the 27. A pass interference call on the next play gave Gladwin another first down at the 14 with under 30 seconds to play. Wheeler rolled right on the next play and took off for the end zone. He appeared to be bottled up, but broke at least two tackles around the ten-yard line and scored with 12 seconds left giving Gladwin a six point lead.
Dexter got the ball back with 11 seconds remaining, but after two short completions time ran out and Gladwin had the victory. On paper it seemed like the odds were long that Gladwin could win this one. Dexter High School has over 1200 students and had qualified for the playoffs the previous two seasons. Last year they were 8-1 during the regular season before losing a close 41-39 playoff game to Livonia Churchill. “Everybody thought we would be overmatched,” said Coach Marc Jarstfer, “but I think we have a chance against anybody.”
He was right. The G’s didn’t back down from the bigger Dreadnaughts matching their physicality the whole way. “We told the kids that this would be a huge challenge, but if we play our fundamental sound football we will have a shot,” continued Jartsfer. “That’s essentially what the kids did. They believed that they could get it done.”
Wheeler had another tremendous game. He was 14 for 24 passing for 203 yards and a touchdown. He was also the leading rusher for Gladwin with 13 attempts for 114 yards and three touchdowns. His 54-yard touchdown run in the first quarter gave Gladwin the early lead and let Dexter know that they were in for a game.
McDonald caught the touchdown pass. He had nine catches for 129 yards. Lucas Mead had three receptions for 61 yards. Kokotovich had 18 carries for 80 yards. Hunter Williams led the defense with seven tackles. McDonald and Wheeler had six each.
Clare will be a big challenge for the Flying G’s this week. “I’m pretty familiar with them,” said Jarstfer. “They have won more Jack Pine titles since 2000 than anybody else. We are going to have a good week of practice, and will have to be locked in and come out ready to play.”