CERRO GORDO – When Dalton Grohler cruised up the middle of the field and into the end zone untouched for his fifth touchdown Friday, the cars and golf carts that formed a perimeter just outside of the football field's fence started honking.
After he jogged 23 yards into the end zone for his sixth score, they honked again. He acknowledged with a thumbs up.
Cerro Gordo-Bement's junior running back couldn't have started the season better. He ran for 410 yards and six touchdowns on 29 touches – a whopping 14.1 yards per carry.
“It's nice when you have a kid that's really fast and runs away from everybody, but it's also nice when you have a kid that's really fast and will stick someone,” CGB coach Andy Kerley said.
Grohler showed a lot of everything in the Broncos' 56-34 win against Tri-County. He ran through arm tackles, plowed through defenders and juked others off their feet.
Of his six touchdowns, everyone had a favorite – except him.
His longest run was a 57-yarder in the fourth quarter when he broke tackles on his way toward the home sideline, cut back and sprinted diagonally to the visiting sideline before he got brought down.
Kerley's favorite was the first of the second half to give the Broncos a 28-21 lead.
“It was right on this sideline. We ran a trap,” Kerley said. “He juked a kid in the hole, busted outside and cutback … and then he runs three people over.
“All of them are laying on the ground like, 'What just happened to me?' And we're in the end zone.
“It's kind of nice to be like, 'Hey, I scored and I hurt a fourth of your team.' ”
Senior offensive lineman Brant Knowles favored the one on the next drive. The Broncos had the ball inside the 5-yard-line, but a high snap pushed them back to the 23-yard-line.
No problem for Grohler.
“I like the one in the corner where he hurdled the kid,” Knowles said.
Grohler broke one tackle, accelerated up the sideline and hurdled a diving defender to get into the end zone, making it 35-21.
The junior was exactly what the Broncos needed Friday.
He established himself early with 128 rushing yards in the first half, but his production tailed off as Tri-County made a comeback to tie the game at 21 going into halftime.
Then, Grohler called for more touches during halftime and he got them.
“Grohler looked at me and said, 'I want the ball.' OK. We're going to give it to you. A lot,” Kerley said.
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Out of halftime he capped off back-to-back scoring drives. Tri-County got within seven, but the Broncos kept handing it off to their feature back.
He wouldn't be stopped until Kerley took him out of the game late in the fourth quarter.
“The offensive line did great,” Grohler said. “On a couple of my touchdowns, I didn't get touched at all.”
The Broncos were a team that couldn't stop Tri-County going into halftime, only the clock really did.
After the Titans tied the game 21-all, they kicked and recovered an onside kick. But with less than a minute left, and not much progress on their first two plays, they took a knee to run out the clock.
“Things went about as bad tonight as you could possibly think in that three- or four-minute stretch,” Kerley said.
The Tri-County offense was simple – running sweeps and throwing bubble screens – but a young defense couldn't handle it.
“We're young on that side of the ball,” Kerley said. “You've got five guys on our defense that have never seen a snap on our varsity defense. Those guys were really nervous.”
Tri-County received the ball to start the second half and three plays in TJ Bishop broke free for a 45 yard run to the 20-yard-line.
Then, inside the 10-yard-line, the defense stepped up and forced the Titans into an unsuccessful 4th-and-6 play.
On the Titans next possession, a pass by Michael Hudson went through the hands of Bishop's hands and into the waiting arms of Broncos freshman Matt Guffey.
“I think finally they got a little bit tired and we got a little sick of the (bubble) play being run, so we kind of went the extra step to stop it,” Knowles said.
“I think this group of people has a special drive to go out and finish, and stomp a team's throat in, and get the win.” - Brant Knowles