JOHNSTON - Johnston ran through a sign made by its cheerleaders before the start of the game that said "Be the Hammer."
Marshalltown proved to be the hammer as the Bobcats claimed a 35-21 win over the Johnston on Friday night in a cross-CIML football matchup.
Having game-breakers like Tad and Ty Steffensen helped Marshalltown run its season record to 3-0.
T-R PHOTO BY MARK PAWLAK
Marshalltown wide receiver Tad Steffensen (2) breaks away for a 25-yard touchdown reception during the third quarter of the Bobcats’ 35-21 victory over Johnston in Friday’s cross-CIML football game at Johnston. MHS improves to 3-0 with the win.
Tad scored a pair of touchdowns - one kickoff return and one receiving. Older brother Ty would not be outdone as he had yet another 100-yard receiving game and added a score.
The Bobcat defense came up big as after the Dragons (2-1) scored on the game's opening possession, Johnston did not reach the end zone again until the final minute.
"It's a special win. We want to get back to two years ago," said junior linebacker Tyler Kluver, referring to the 2009 state runner-up team. "Last year we were disappointed. We wanted to bring back that 'believe' factor, that one town, one team, one dream.
Marshalltown 35, Johhston 21
J - Lawrence 7 pass from Kinning (Bass kick), 8:52.
MHS - Tad Steffensen 94 kickoff return (Gimbel kick), 8:37.
J - FG Bass 28, 1:51.
MHS - Ty Steffensen 83 pass from Gimbel (Gimbel kick), 7:20.
J - FG Bass 23, :00
MHS - Tad Steffensen 25 pass from Gimbel (Gimbel kick), 10:33.
MHS - Gimbel 1 run (Gimbel kick), 1:54.
MHS - Hauser 56 pass from Gimbel (Gimbel kick), 4:55.
J - Montgomery 11 run (Bass pass from Kinning), :41.
"Going into the season and especially with how we played the first two weeks, we felt like we had that group of guys to do it again."
Marshalltown has another undefeated team on the schedule, West Des Moines Valley, next Friday.
The Dragons marched 80 yards on their opening drive on Friday to take a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Michael Kinning to Jaryd Lawrence.
The Bobcats answered quickly. Speedster Tad Steffensen returned the ensuing kickoff 94 yards to tie the game.
"That was gigantic, answering right away," said MHS head coach Dave Holdiman. "(Johnston) had to work seven plays to get it in there and boom, it's tied. That changed momentum and got us on track."
After a field goal put the Dragons ahead 10-7, it was Ty Steffensen's turn for a long touchdown. The senior started in the slot and ran a short out pattern. Quarterback Blake Gimbel delivered the ball and Steffensen made a move to the sideline, cut back in and back out again to outrace a group of Johnston defenders in the area for an 83-yard touchdown. The scoring reception was his sixth of the season.
Johnston closed to within 14-13 at the half after a field goal with no time remaining in the second quarter.
Tad Steffensen returned the second-half kickoff to the 50 and the Bobcats were again off and running. Tad Steffensen's 25-yard touchdown reception from Gimbel a minute and a half into the third quarter pushed MHS ahead 21-13.
A 1-yard touchdown run by Gimbel followed by 56-yard touchdown catch by Austin Hauser put the game away. Hauser's touchdown came after the Bobcats held Johnston without points after the Dragons had the ball inside the MHS 1.
"I think our defense really played well. They hung in there," Holdiman said. "Johnston took it down the field on us right away, scored, and we didn't let them see the end zone again until the end when the game was in hand. That gave us a chance offensively to get some things corrected."
Gimbel was 18-for-32 passing for 296 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Finding space to work in the middle of the field, Ty Steffensen led the Bobcat receivers with nine catches for 133 yards, while Tad Steffensen added five receptions for 80 yards.
"That's what they were giving us and that's what we got to take," Holdiman said.
Brandon Pettigrew added three catches for 27 yards and Hauser's one catch on the night was the 56-yard score. Dominick Osborne finished with 67 rushing yards for MHS on 12 attempts.
"I got to give the offense a ton of credit," Kluver said. "They're unbelievable."
Marcus Montgomery totaled 140 yards on the night on 25 rushing attempts for Johnston. Kinning passed for 186 yards as the Dragons outgained MHS, 389-352, but the Bobcats' won the battle on the scoreboard.
Kyle Carnahan's six solo tackles and 11 assisted stops were a game-high for the Marshalltown defense. David Hughes had four solo and four assisted tackles to go with an interception, while Kluver added a sack.
The Bobcats' CIML Iowa Conference opener is next Friday at Leonard Cole Field against West Des Moines Valley (3-0).