September 29, 2023 at 9:45 a.m.

Pointers come up short in battle with Redbirds

By Matthew Goninen

Last Friday Night from Ron Murphy Field, the Darlington Redbirds took down the Mineral Point Pointers 20-13, taking sole control of first place in the SWAL.

“It was a great week of preparation,” Head Coach Justin Leonard said. “The guys stayed very level-headed and knew what they needed to do. They gave it a four-quarter effort.”

Apart from a few big pass plays, the game would primarily feature the run game and short passes as both teams were dealing with the wet conditions on the field.

Both teams would start slow; Darlington would punt on their first drive after moving the chains a couple of times, and Mineral Point would eventually do the same. Even as the offenses would pick up for both teams and begin to drive, both defenses would force back-to-back turnovers on downs.

The Pointers would gain momentum from a second-quarter miscue by the Darlington special teams unit. Facing fourth and 27, the Redbirds would have to punt from their own 15-yard line, but the punt would sail over punter Maddox Goebel’s head. After recovering the ball and bringing it back to his own six-yard line, Goebel would be brought down, giving Mineral Point their first trip to the red zone of the night.

After handing the ball off for a loss and getting dropped in the backfield, quarterback Gibsen Sporle would find Luke Filardo for a 15-yard Mineral Point touchdown. Bryce Vamstad would tack on the extra point, giving Mineral Point the 7-0 lead.

Darlington, now driving down the field, would face a fourth and one situation. Breylin Goebel would hand the ball off to senior Tye Crist, and Crist would get more than enough for the Redbirds, moving the ball into the red zone. While a touchdown pass would be negated by a holding call, the Redbirds would still find the endzone. Tye Crist would score a touchdown for the Redbirds, and Denilo Ramos-Godoy would add the Pextra point.

Tremaine Kennicker would fumble the kickoff return, setting up a pass from Breylin Goebel to Will Murray to give Darlington the lead. However, Denilo Ramos-Godoy would miss the extra point try.

After the two teams would punt back and forth for the rest of the third quarter, Mineral Point would drive 69 yards down the field to tie the game at 13. Landon Thousand would find the endzone on a slant play across the middle. However, Vamstad’s extra point attempt would be no good.

Darlington would respond quickly, as Breylin Goebel would find Maddox Goebel on a 67-yard pass for a touchdown on their second play of the drive. Ramos-Godoy would make the extra point, giving Darlington the 20-13 lead over Mineral Point.

“When you’re in close games, looking to beat good teams, looking to win conference titles, it comes down to four or five plays,” Coach Leonard mentioned. “It is hard to beat a good team when you lose focus in those plays. We’re still learning and growing as a team.”

Mineral Point would have a couple more chances to get on the board. They would get the ball back with just under nine minutes on the clock in the fourth quarter. Starting on the 19-yard line, Tremaine Kennicker and Reid Acherman would make big plays to help the Pointers move the ball. However, Mineral Point would be forced to punt.

Darlington would chew clock on their next possession. They would almost turn the ball over on a dangerous pitch play from Breylin Goebel, but the Redbirds would jump on it. They would punt it back to Mineral Point, giving the Pointers one more shot to score.

The Pointers would move the ball into Redbird territory on a third and 10 keeper by Gibsen Sporle that would move the chains. However, on the ensuing second and 10, Sporle would overthrow Bryce Vamstad, instead throwing an interception to Will Murray.

The Redbirds would run the clock out and take home the victory over Mineral Point with a final score of 20-13.

Mineral Point moves into their final three regular season games at 3-3. They will travel to Belleville next week, host Parkview/Albany for Homecoming, and end the regular season at Cuba City. 

“All of these games are winnable,” Coach Leonard added, “but right now, we need to focus on going 1-0 against Belleville. We need to get everybody healthy, prepare mentally, go to Belleville next Friday night, and take care of business.”