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Panthers blast Bottineau

By Staff | Sep 26, 2014

Lori Gronvold/PCT Rugby High School junior Victor Gronvold blows by a pair of Bottineau defenders in the Panthers’ 53-0 road win.

BOTTINEAU – Rugby High School football players know how much coach Scott Grochow enjoys winning homecoming games – whether at RHS or on the road. Following the 53-0 trouncing of overmatched Bottineau on Sept. 19, a handful of players attempted to reward their coach with a nice, chilly bath from the water cooler.

The effort failed, but was about the only thing that didn’t work for the Panthers, who improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in Class A Region 3.

“They just wanted to get me wet,” Grochow said with a laugh. “But, I’m sick.”

A cold wasn’t likely to keep his spirits down. The Panthers turned in their most dominant performance of the season in the team’s first shutout. The margin of victory narrowly topped that of a 56-6 thumping of Williams County, two weeks earlier.

Speedy RHS junior Victor Gronvold had a career day with three touchdowns and 196 all-purpose yards. Gronvold’s touchdowns came on a punt return in the first quarter, a rush in the second and a reception in the third.

His first went for the first points of the game. Both teams punted to open play and a short Bottineau (0-4, 0-3) punt following its second possession found the arms of Gronvold on a sprint. He didn’t break stride as he raced through the first group of Braves and busted toward the right side for a 44-yard score.

The game was out of hand when Gronvold found the end zone again with 3 minutes, 13 seconds left in the half. To cap the team’s longest drive of the night – 91 yards on six plays – Gronvold took a handoff on a sweep to the right and blasted by the Braves for a 26-0 lead.

“It feels great,” Gronvold said. “It wasn’t that difficult because we had great blockers.”

Gronvold and three fellow ball carriers benefitted from great blocking up front and on the edges. On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Gronvold caught a swing pass from backup quarterback Anders Johnson and took it 70 yards up the right sideline for six.

On that play and the next touchdown – a 53-yard run by senior Eric Hooker – senior receiver Tanner Bernhardt delivered the key blocks down field.

“(Gronvold’s) speed in a game like this is huge,” Grochow said. “It’s nice to have those weapons. We had a lot of different people show up tonight.”

Hooker scored another touchdown in the second quarter, Bernhardt scored on a five-yard rush, sophomore Kade Leier on a 43-yard run and senior Zach Miller caught a 25-yard pass from classmate Brad Heidlebaugh.

Gronvold, Hooker and Leier finished with 82, 81 and 59 yards, respectively, on the ground. Before being replaced at halftime, Heidlebaugh was 8 for 16 for 142 yards, including four completions of 20 or more yards.

The RHS defense stuffed just about everything the Braves tried, limiting the homecoming hosts to less than 100 yards of total offense.

“The first two or three series we had to get a feel for the game, but after that we can roll a team,” junior linebacker Blackhawk Jones said. “We have a lot of room for improvement. Everything needs improvement.”

Bottineau advanced on a first down on each of its first two possessions, but managed just four first downs the remainder of the game. A Reid Mundahl sack in the first half forced the Braves to punt and consecutive turnovers in the second half prevented any sustained momentum for BHS. Junior linebacker Hunter Hager recovered a fumble and freshman Landen Foster had an interception.

Did the Panthers remain undefeated against Lewis & Clark-Our Redeemer’s at homecoming Friday? See thepiercecountytribune.com for the story.

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