WHITEWATER, Wis. - Beloit Turner's goals are sky-high this fall and that went a long way toward explaining their overall grumpy demeanor Friday night.
Crabbiest of all was probably head coach Derek Diehl.
"We expected to do extremely well and we didn't," he said, despite a scoreboard that confirmed a 21-13 season-opening victory over the Whitewater Whippets. "We failed to execute. We had 21 snaps offensively in the first half and that is not the standard for football success. We had too many mistakes and too many miscues."
The biggest issue Diehl had was his team's lack of consistency. The Trojans looked like a team still feeling its way with a new offense under coordinator Brad Dement. Despite their struggles, they still managed to put up three first-half touchdowns on the strength of the right arm of senior quarterback Kenny Draeving.
"We have outstanding receivers," Draeving said. "If someone gets hurt, we have three other guys who can step up and who'd start for all the other teams in this conference."
After a scoreless first quarter, Draeving capped a nine-play 71-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown toss to Mickey Burrows with 9:10 left in the second.
After mishandling a snap and losing a fumble, Draeving atoned for the miscue by recovering a Whitewater fumble at the Turner 41. On the next play he ran 45 yards to the Whitewater 14. When it looked like the possession might come up empty, he tossed a fourth-down 24-yard TD strike to 6-6 senior Dai'Vontrelle Strong. A two-point conversion pass to Burrows made it 14-0 with 3:28 left.
With the TD pass to Strong, Draeving broke a 51-year school record held by Greg Gaffey, who quarterbacked Turner from 1966-68 in the old SHARK Conference. Gaffey had 27 career TD passes in 24 total games. Draeving eclipsed that in his 21st game.
In fact, he'd add No. 29. After having a TD pass to Preston Viens nullified by a penalty, Draeving had one last chance in the first half. Turner took over after a punt at its own 35. A 21-yard burst by Burrows put the ball at the Whitewater 44, but with just 4 seconds remaining. Draeving threw a bomb and somehow Jack Scharlau got behind the Whippets' defense and scored as time expired. The Trojans collected an unsportsmanlike conduct call for spiking the football, but kicker Ismael Lopez drilled the extra-point through the uprights anyway from 34 yards out for a 21-0 lead.
The Trojans' offense did a lot of sputtering in the second half and Draeving tried to shoulder most of the blame.
"A win is a win, but we have to execute better on offense," Draeving said. "We started off slow and that's on me. The second half, we just couldn't get anything going either. I was off. My reads were off. My footworkwas off. I was panicking. I have to learn from this, get back to the basics and fix it by next Friday."
Diehl said the blame will be shared.
"Kenny is developing just fine," the coach said. "He has done a lot of great things here at Turner and he's won us a lot of games. I haven't lost any confidence in what we do or who we have doing it. We're trying a new concept on offense and it's always hard to implement a new concept in the state of Wisconsin with just five contact days to do so. We just need some time to progress."
What Draeving did particularly well in the second half was punt the football. He gave Whitewater terrible field position with boots of 56, 42 and 43 yards. The Whippets had drives start in the third quarter at their 24, 5 and 1-yard line.
"Kenny really pinned them back," Diehl said. "He is phenomenal at punting. The way he was able to change the field was really big in this game."
The Trojans probably would have felt fine with a 21-0 win, but they were soured a bit by allowing two fourth-quarter touchdown runs of 13 and 54-yard by Will Leibbrand. The second came with just 1 second left on the clock, a beautiful 54-yard jaunt in which he cut completely back across the field.
While he wasn't overjoyed with his own team's performance, Diehl didn't want to take anything away from the Whippets, who not only have a roster of just 30 players and had several key players battling cramps.
"They are a much improved program," the Turner coach said. "They had their kids firing off the ball. To be honest, they were a bit tougher than us tonight up front."
Whitewater outgained Turner in total yardage, 312 yards to 249. Leibbrand finished with 12 carries for 120 yards and the Whippets had 245 on the ground on 44 carries.
"I was proud of the way the guys hung with it," head coach Jason Bleck said. "It would have been real easy to fold down 21-0 at the half. As much as it stinks to be on the losing end of it, I'm happy with the effort.
"This gives us a confidence boost. Turner is expected to be one of the best teams in the conference and it was just a one-score game."
• FRIDAY'S BOXSCORE:
BELOIT TURNER 21, WHITEWATER 13
Beloit Turner..0 21 0 0 - 21
Whitewater.....0 0 0 13 - 13
BT - Burrows, 27, pass from Draeving (run fails)
BT - Strong, 24, pass from Draeving (Burrows catch)
BT - Scharlau, 44, pass from Draeving (Lopez kick)
WW - Leibbrand, 13, run (Gonzalez kick)
WW - Leibbrand, 54, run
LEADING INDIVIDUALS: Rushing: BT, Draeving 11-25, Crall 6-22, M. Burrows 2-21. WW, Leibbrand 12-120. Passing: BT, Draeving 24-11-0, 174; WW, Kohl 19-5-0, 36; Grosinske 12-1-0, 15. Receiving: BT, Strong 4-46, Revel 4-41, M. Burrows 2-31, Scharlau 1-44. WW, Monday 2-21, Heritage 2-3.