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Bennett gets 100th win at Glacier

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | September 10, 2021 11:45 PM

A couple landmarks were reached Friday at Legends Stadium, where Glacier dispatched stubborn Missoula Big Sky 56-20 in Western AA football.

For Grady Bennett it was his 100th win as the Wolfpack coach, dating to when the school opened its doors in 2009.

For Jake Turner, it was the rare air of finding the end zone three different ways: the 5-foot-7 senior sandwiched a 4-yard touchdown catch between a 98-yard kickoff return and a 98-yard tear with interception.

“Jake Turner was amazing tonight,” a pleased Bennett said after his team improved to 3-0. “He was named an honorary captain after the way he competed last week (in a 33-21 win at CMR). He’s one of the greatest competitors I’ve ever been around.”

This was timely because the Eagles, after looking overmatched early, kept hanging in.

After falling behind 14-0, thanks to the first two of Jake Rendina’s four rushing touchdowns, they drove 80 yards for a TD. A 32-yard pass from Jacon Hren to Louis Sanders sparked things, as did a series of Wildcat formation runs.

They put together another 80-yard drive to open the third quarter. Each march was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Cole Sandberg.

“That’s Big Sky. That’s a Matt Johnson-coached team,” Bennett said. “They fight to the very end, no matter what. It’s always a scrappy, hard-fought game.”

The rub was that after Sandberg’s first TD Turner took the ensuing kickoff, broke free and cut off a big block to skate to the end zone.

“Little ‘woomp’ block,” Turner said. “Royce Conklin. That was a nice block. I was laughing halfway through the kickoff return because I saw him do it.”

That made it 21-7 at 8:39 of the second quarter; after Big Sky drove backwards — a sack by Isaac Keim was key — and punted from its 1-yard line, Sliter threaded a pass to Turner to make it 28-7 with 5:30 left in the half.

It got worse for Big Sky, with Kash Goicoechea intercepting a Hren pass and taking it 18 yards for the score.

“Honestly, it was awesome,” Turner said of the sophomore’s pick-6. “That kid’s got some wheels.”

Big Sky struck for a 50-yard touchdown pass from Hren to Isaac Ayers before the half ended, but by then Rendina had his third TD to make it 42-7. Rendina trucked a defender on his fourth TD, covering 10 yards in the third quarter.

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Glacier head coach Grady Bennett motions to the Wolfpack as they take on Missoula Big Sky at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier wide receiver Connor Sullivan (2) picks up yardage after a reception against Missoula Big Sky at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier defensive back Kash Goicoechea (6) returns an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter against Missoula Big Sky at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier quarterback Gage Sliter (7) looks to pass in the third quarter against Missoula Big Sky at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier defenders Jake Rendina (33), Wyatt Thomason (24) and Jake Turner (32) swarm Missoula Big Sky running back Kolbe Jensen (27) in the third quarter at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier tight end Luke Bilau (4) breaks a pair of tackles by Missoula Big Sky defenders Louis Sanders (6) and Dallas Wells (23) on a second-quarter reception at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier defensive back Kash Goicoechea (6) celebrates with teammates after returning an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter against Missoula Big Sky at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier wide receiver Jake Turner (32) fights for extra yardage on a third quarter reception against MIssoula Big Sky at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 10. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

Turner’s pick-6 came as Big Sky tried to get a consolation score.

“I think it just slipped out of the quarterback’s hand a little bit — it was a little bit of a wobbly ball,” Turner said. “I thought I might as well grab it. Somebody had a block, but I don’t know who. I wish I knew who it was — I’ll probably figure it out tomorrow.”

“He just loves to compete,” said Bennett of Turner. “Hates to lose. Fights so hard to the bitter end. And he did again tonight — he knew he had some tough matchups with those two great receivers Big Sky has, and he just fights like crazy.

“To score on all three phases… that’s amazing. I think he and Jackson Pepe (now with the Griz) are the only ones to do it. So good for Jake… Just a heck of a game. I’m just so proud of him. What a week.”

Big Sky 0 13 7 0 - 20

Glacier 14 28 7 7 - 56

G — Jake Rendina 1 run (Patrick Rohrbach kick), 11:09-1Q

G — Rendina 1 run (Rohrbach kick), 1:09-1Q

MBS — Cole Sandberg 1 run (Bridger Wierson kick), 8:51-2Q

G — Jake Turner 98 kickoff return (Rohrbach kick), 8:39-2Q

G — Turner 4 pass from Gage Sliter (Rohrbach kick), 5:30-2Q

G — Kash Goicoechea 18 interception return (Rohrbach kick), 4:46-2Q

G — Rendina 3 run (Rohrbach kick), 2:13-2Q

MBS — Isaac Ayers 50 pass from Caleb Hren (kick failed), :32-2Q

MBS — Sandberg 1 run (Wierson kick), 6:02-3Q

G — Rendina 10 run (Rohrbach kick), 3:34-3Q

G — Turner 98 interception return (Rohrbach kick), 1:19-4Q

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Big Sky (46-110) — Kolbe Jensen 14-50, C. Sandberg 15-34, Louis Sanders 8-18, Tre Reed 2-13, Dallas Wells 1-4, Joey Sandberg 4-4, Hren 2-minus 13. Glacier (24-212) — Rendina 16-160, Goicoechea 2-19, Wyatt Thomason 4-18, Connor Sullivan 1-13, Sliter 1-2.

PASSING: Big Sky — Hren 15-31-2 for 202 yards; Sandrs 3-3-0 for 33 yards. Glacier — Sliter 16-19-2 for 191 yards; Sullivan 0-1-0 for 0 yards.

RECEIVING: Big Sky — Reed 5-53, Sanders 4-68, C.Sandberg 4-29, Ayers 3-67, Jensen 2-18. Glacier — Turner 5-32, Sullivan 4-50, Tate Kauffman 3-58, Luke Bilau 3-44, Rendina 1-7.