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Sullivan shines as Glacier downs Capital

by FRITZ NEIGHBOR
Daily Inter Lake | September 25, 2021 12:49 AM

Connor Sullivan’s catch-and-run of a 59-yard scoring pass was a thing of beauty Friday night, but it was a catch he made at the end of the first half that really dazzled.

And it wasn’t even to him.

Two plays after Capital picked off a Gage Sliter pass, Sullivan made an end-zone interception to get the defense off the field and preserve a 7-7 score. Then the Wolfpack found second-half running room for Jake Rendina, got a big punt return from Sullivan and pounded out a 21-7 win over the Bruins.

“I think what I liked about our team tonight is truly having each other's backs,” Glacier coach Grady Bennett said after his club improved to 4-1, 2-1 in the Western AA. “Our offense was awful in the first half, I mean let’s just be honest. Capital’s defense, they’re good, but we were a mess.

“Then we make that mistake, but then for the defense to come out on that sudden change and to end up getting that pick? That's huge. That’s the game, potentially, right there.”

Capital, with a defensive front fortified by Talon March and Cole Soper, looked more than Glacier’s match. Rendina managed 15 yards on six carries by intermission. The lone bright spot was Sliter’s perfect ball to Sullivan on the Pack’s second possession.

“We set it up all week,” Sullivan said. “You can’t throw a better ball than that. He’s a great quarterback.”

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Glacier's Jake Turner (32) returns a kickoff in the first quarter against Helena Capital at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier linebacker Royce Conklin (46) awaits an offensive play by Helena Capital in the first quarter at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier kicker Patrick Rohrbach (90) boots an extra point against Helena Capital at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

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Glacier quarterback Gage Sliter (7) passes under pressure from Helena Capital defensive lineman Talon Marsh (52) in the first quarter at Legends Stadium on Friday, Sept. 24. (Casey Kreider/Daily Inter Lake)

A fumbled exchange on Capital’s next possession — Wyatt Thomason recovered for Glacier at the Capital 39 — seemed to set the Pack up for a two-score lead. But the hosts turned the ball over on downs and the Bruins (3-2, 2-1) drove 63 yards for a tying touchdown. Tuff Adams plunged in on third-and-goal on the first play of the second quarter.

From there it was a defensive battle. Quinn Belcher made the potential game-changing interception for Capital, in a game that had 11 punts and 24 first downs combined.

One play after Belcher’s theft Eric Cockhill hauled in a 28-yard pass to set up first-and-goal. On the next snap Sullivan stepped in front of a pass meant for tight end Hayden Opitz.

“The mindset coaches tell us is to just run the next play,” Sullivan said. “I just cut in front of him. I think he threw it a little bit under.”

“He had a very good game,” Sliter, who threw for 102 yards, said. “We knew that he was going to get by that corner and make a play (on the TD), and that’s what he did. He really stepped up and made some plays when we needed them. That pick was huge. Really saved our bacon.”

The second half was really all Glacier. Capital’s first two possessions were blunted by holding penalties. After the first Glacier drove 61 yards, helped along by a roughing-the-center penalty on a field goal attempt, to go up 14-7.

On the second Sullivan returned the punt 44 yards to set Glacier up first-and-goal.

Rendina, who rumbled for 85 second-half yards, capped each drive with second-effort touchdown runs of 11 and 9 yards.

“I’m very happy he’s on our team because I wouldn’t want to tackle that guy,” said Sullivan. He’s just a beast, all around.”

I felt we played really well together as a team, all three phases,” Bennett said. “Really knowing when to step up and make a big play, I felt like we did that. Whether it was that (interception), or that big punt return or the offense finally getting it going in the second half.

“Their defensive front is fantastic. Our O-line had to feel their way through that first half a little bit and figure out, ‘We can do this.’ They started to cover up a little bit better, get some movement and that’s all Jake needs is just a little bit of a window.”

Glacier plays at Helena High next Friday.

Capital 0 7 0 0 - 7

Glacier 7 0 14 0 - 21

G — Connor Sullivan 59 pass from Gage Sliter (Patrick Rohrbach kick), 8:21-1Q

C — Tuff Adams 1 run (Kevin LaCere kick), 11:53-2Q

G — Jake Rendina 11 run (Rohrbach kick), 12:00-3Q

G — Rendina 9 run (Rohrbach kick). 3:08-3Q

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: Capital (32-83) — Luke Sullivan 13-51, Adams 4-26, Brandon Soule 2-17, Eric Cockhill 1-5, Tyler Kovick 1-0, Derrick Kirkland 1-0, Tom Carter 1-minus 1, Joey Michellot 9-minus 13. Glacier (31-143) — Rendina 19-100, Jake Turner 4-35, Kash Goicoechea 2-9, Sullivan 1-1, Team 1-0, Sliter 4-minus 2.

PASSING: Capital — Michelotti 12-24-2 for 130 yards, Tyler Little 0-1-0 for 0 yards. Glacier — Sliter 10-15-1 for 102 yards.

RECEIVING: Capital — Hayden Opitz 5-52, Carter 4-41, Cockhill 2-32, Adams 1-5. Glacier — Luke Bilau 3-11, Sullivan 2-67, Tate Kauffman 2-8, Turner 2-7, Goicoechea 1-9.