Sunday, August 21, 2016

Tiger Football Stumbles in Opener Against Spartans

Worth County's football team crashed and burned on a chaotic night of football in which most games were postponed and made up the next day. Worth County made a game out of it after falling behind 21-6 at one point, but then passed up chances to take control of the game and fell to South/Nodaway Holt 42-30 in a game that was postponed Friday night to Saturday afternoon.

The win was the first for Nodaway-Holt's kids over Worth County since 1993, back before the present football players were born. The win was also the first for South Holt's kids over Worth County since 2004. Many of Worth County's woes were self-inflicted, with people forgetting the snap count and getting a ton of false starts; they collected 15 penalties. It didn't help that they were intimidated by South/Nodaway-Holt's Zach Walker, who was all over the field making tackles on defense and converting short yardage situations at will on the other side of the ball.

It looked for all the world like Worth County would win easily at first. They forced a three and out on the Spartans' first possessions and Ryan McClellan got a long runback of the punt to the Spartan 29. Isaac Alarcon ran over a defender to the 20 and Jayden Mancuso outran his defender down the right side nine more to the 11. From there, Zach Walker began asserting himself for the Spartans and Worth County was backed up fourth and 11 at the 12. Cade Allee threw a jump ball pass that Mason Hawk brought down for Worth County's first score with 8:04 left.

But then Andrew Freemyer was hurt (knee) on the kickoff and everything started to go downhill from there. On their second play from scrimmage, the Spartans handed off to Walker and he shot up the middle and nobody wanted anything to do with him as he shot 46 yards down the field. Ottman kicked all of the extra points for Josh Petersen's Spartans.

Jayden Mancuso's 18 yard sweep behind the blocking of Drake Kinsella brought the Tigers into Spartan territory at the 30, but once again, the Tigers picked up false starts and let Walker run wild on defense as they gave up the ball on downs at the 34. Another Achilles heel for Worth County was the matchups -- the Spartans had two tall receivers in Logan Zimmerman (6'4") and Carey Volner (6'2") that Worth County could not match up with sizewise. Zimmerman outjumped a defender for a jump ball down to the Tiger 23, setting up Brody Day's scamper down the left side from 10 yards out with 2:55 left to make it 14-6.

Worth County was buried at the 10 on the kickoff and more false start penalties ensued, forcing a three and out. The ensuing kick was into the wind, setting up a short field and once again, Walker ran wild for the Spartans and Worth County did nothing to stop him as they moved in front 21-6 with 11:55 left.

Worth County finally found some daylight on its next series as the line started firing off the ball better and blocking. Jayden Mancuso and Isaac Alarcon took turns carrying the load and a 22 yard quick hitter to Alarcon set up first and goal at the 2. Alarcon's score with 9:30 left and Mason Hawk's extra point pass from Allee pulled Worth County to within 21-14 before the storm hit and everyone was forced to go home as the rain and lightning did not let up for the next hour and a half.

When the two teams came back to play the next day, a questionable call by the officials gave the Spartans a chance to go back up two scores. At their own 33, a fumbled snap was lying on the ground and Drake Kinsella and others were scrambling for the loose carom. But for some reason, even though football players are allowed to dive after loose balls in fumble situations, the referees called him for a late hit, giving the Spartans new life. A long jump ball pass to Volner put it on the Tiger 10, and Walker burned the Tigers again, getting eight tough yards to the 4 after a busted option play. But for once, the Tigers made a goal line stand as Ryan McClellan broke up a fourth down pass in the back of the end zone.

Worth County rode Isaac Alarcon's back to a halftime lead, aided by a 21 yard play action pass to Wade Rush. Finally, Alarcon rushed around the right end, aided by a block from Caleb Parman to score from 29 yards out and took in a spread draw to put the Tigers up 22-21 with 1:09 left. Caleb Parman added a big hit on the ensuing kickoff. The Spartans got to their own 32, but Mason Hawk picked off Alan Ottman's desperation pass to keep Worth County up at half.

The Tigers had a golden opportunity to take control of the game, but fumbled on their second play from scrimmage at their own 31 on a botched handoff, and a jump ball pass to Volner set up Walker's two yard score with 10:59 left to make it 28-22. Worth County came right back down the field with a 14 yard gallop from Alarcon and 15 from Mancuso down as far as the Spartan 18. But then yet another false start did them in and a jump ball pass to Mason Hawk was broken up in the end zone.

Eleven yards from Brody Day and 14 more from Walker moved it into Tiger territory, but Worth County got some rare pressure on Ottman and he fumbled while scrambling for yardage and Drake Kinsella recovered on the 25. Worth County drove to midfield, but once again, nobody blocked Walker and the drive broke down at the Spartan 39. Neither side could solve the other's defense until late in the third, when a blocked punt put the Spartans in control, giving them the ball at the Tiger 11. Once again, Walker ran unchecked for the Spartans, converting a third and 5 at the six for a score on the first play of the fourth to make it 35-22.

Worth County came back, driving into Spartan territory at the 24, where they were faced with second and nine. But then one of the South/Nodaway Holt players jumped offsides and then did an acting job by pointing at one of the Worth County players; the referees fell for the acting job and called a false start on Worth County. That was promptly followed by another one, and Worth County stalled there. This time, Brody Day burst down the left sideline for 45 yards untouched to nail the lid on the coffin and make it 42-22.

Worth County spread out the field and marched down, needing only three plays to score on a 26 yard pass from Cade Allee to Caleb Parman with 7:08 left to make it 42-30. But then South/Nodaway Holt marched back down, taking time off the clock and getting a fourth and five pass to Volner at the 21 before giving the ball back on downs with 1:54 left, too short to make up the two score deficit. Brody Day picked off Allee and returned it to the 19 to clinch the game.

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