Panthers keep Cowbell with late rally, two-point run

Max Keleher of Monticello (21) carries the Cowbell Trophy after the Panthers’ 42-41 win over Anamosa Aug. 25 at Dean Nelson Field. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Panther quarterback Jacob Manternach carries the ball as teammate Gavin Cooper (13) blocks for him in the Anamosa game.

Gavin Holub of Monticello (right) pressures Anamosa quarterback Matthew Walton in Friday’s game.

Gavin Cooper is all alone as he catches a pass that went for an 80-yard touchdown in the game’s closing minutes.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     A football game that featured 12 touchdowns and 1,215 combined yards of offense was ultimately decided by a two-point conversion.

     After Jacob Manternach completed a pass to a wide-open Gavin Cooper for an 80-yard touchdown, the Monticello Panthers found themselves trailing Anamosa 41-40 with 2:34 to play in the annual Cowbell Trophy game.

     The Panthers elected to go for a two-point conversion instead of kicking, and gave the ball to Max Keleher, who plunged through the middle for the winning points. Monticello defeated the Blue Raiders 42-41 Friday, Aug. 25 at Dean Nelson Field, opening the season by keeping the Cowbell here in town.

     Monticello has now won two in a row and 10 of the last 13 games in the Cowbell series, and has an overall record of 55-36-5 against Anamosa.

     Monticello coach Wes Wilson said the decision to try for two points was made before the Panthers started their final series.

     “With the experienced line and a back like Max, it made it an easy call,” Wilson said.

     Leading up to that was a game in which the Panthers, despite racking up 668 yards in total offense and posting some remarkable individual statistics, never led until Keleher’s two-point run.

     Keleher finished with 224 rushing yards on 25 carries, and scored five touchdowns, four on the ground. Manternach completed 11 of 16 passes for 323 yards and two scores, and also rushed for 121 yards on 20 carries. Gavin Cooper scored the big touchdown near the end, and finished with six catches for 220 yards.

     “We did some good things offensively,” Wilson said. “Jacob, Gavin and Andrew (Mescher) all missed over half the year last year, so it was nice to see them come out and play well. Max picked up right where he left off last season. We had great balance on offense, and that makes it tough on opposing defenses.”

     Despite all that, Monticello trailed for most of the game, and by two touchdowns for much of it. Anamosa scored twice in the first quarter for a 14-0 lead.

     There were times when it seemed any play had a good chance of resulting in a touchdown. During the wild, 41-point second quarter, there was one stretch in which three TDs were scored in the space of 1:27 of game time.

     The Panthers tied the game twice in that quarter. Keleher scored on runs of 16 and 3 yards to make it 14-14 after Gavin Holub’s extra point kicks. The Raiders regained the lead at 21-14, and Keleher answered with a 41-yard run to tie it 21-21.

     Anamosa scored on the first play from scrimmage after that, however, on an 83-yard run by quarterback Matthew Walton, and then a Panther fumble led to another Raider score, giving the visitors a 34-21 lead by halftime.

     “We really struggled with our tackling, especially in the first half,” Wilson said. “We were in position a lot, but just missed too many tackles that led to a lot of big plays.”

     The Panther defense improved dramatically in the second half. After Keleher scored on a screen pass from Manternach that turned into a 73-yard touchdown, and Anamosa tallied to regain a two-score lead at 41-28, the Raiders drove to the Monticello 1-yard line with a chance to go up by three TDs.

     Instead, the Panthers stopped them.

     “They gained confidence as the game went on,” Wilson said of the defense. “We played as a team and tackled better.”

     Overall, that defense was led by Lake Stahlberg, who had 8.5 tackles; and Chase Luensman, who had 7.5.

     The Raiders didn’t score again. Monticello cut the margin to six after a short Anamosa punt and a 31-yard run by Keleher.

     Anamosa had one more chance, moving to the Panther 14-yard line with fewer than three minutes to play, but were stopped at that point by the resurgent Monticello defense, and then missed a field goal attempt.

     That gave Monticello the ball at its 20 with 2:46 to play, trailing by seven. On first down, Cooper beat a defender down the left side, and Manternach lofted a pass to his wide-open receiver. Cooper dashed to the end zone, setting up the winning two-point run by Keleher.

     Anamosa had one more chance with the ball, but was stopped at its 38 in four plays.

     “I am pleased with the effort of the whole team,” Wilson said. “It took all 26 guys to win this one.

     “We know that we can come back from adversity. We were put in positions that will help us when we get into our district schedule.

     “Also, give a big shout-out to Panther Nation. The crowd was absolutely amazing. Dean Nelson Field was rocking. One of the loudest games I’ve ever been a part of.”

Trip to Camanche Friday

     The Panthers will play another non-district game Friday, Sept. 1 at Camanche.

     “Camanche has a new coach this year and is doing some different things,” Wilson said. “They are trying to run the ball a little more this year. They always have good athletes. We need to get better this week in practice and cut down on our mistakes.”


Aug. 25

Anamosa    14  20   7   0 – 41

Monticello   0   21   7 14 – 42



   Ana – McLean 62 pass from M. Walton (A. Walton kick), 10:26 remaining.

   Ana – McLean 9 pass from M. Walton (A. Walton kick), 0:19.2.


   Monti – Keleher 16 run (Holub kick), 9:34.

   Monti – Keleher 3 run (Holub kick), 7:53.

   Ana – Seeley 12 run (A. Walton kick), 6:23.

   Monti – Keleher 41 run (Holub kick), 5:20.

   Ana – M. Walton 83 run (A. Walton kick), 4:56.

   Ana – Dietiker 86 pass from M. Walton (kick failed), 1:28.


   Monti – Keleher 73 pass from Manternach (Holub kick), 11:34.

   Ana – Seeley 20 run (A. Walton kick), 8:18.


   Monti – Keleher 31 run (kick failed), 9:24.

   Monti – Cooper 80 pass from Manternach (Keleher run), 2:34.


                               Ana        Monti

Rushing yds.       249          345

Passing yds.        298         323

Comp.-att.-int. 15-23-0   11-16-0

Total yds.             547         668

Penalties             3-30       6-60

Fumbles lost         0             2


   Rushing – Keleher 25-224, Manternach 20-121.

   Passing – Manternach 11-16-323-2-0.

   Receiving – Cooper 6-220, Keleher 2-74, Mescher 2-32, D. Kraus 1-(-3).

   Tackle leaders – Stahlberg 8.5, Luensman 7.5, Manternach 5, Holub 4.5, Bowser 4, Keleher 4, C. Kraus 4, Cooper 3.5, Picray 3.5, Kuper 3, Mescher 3, Wallerich 3.

   Tackles-for-loss – Holub 2, Keleher 1, C. Kraus 1, Stahlberg 1, Kuper 0.5, Picray 0.5, Bowser 0.5.



Subscriber Login