Despite some early miscues on big plays offensively, the Marshalltown football team still managed to pile up 430 total yards and score 31 points Friday in front of a fired up 'whiteout' crowd at Leonard Cole Field.
Senior quarterback Blake Gimbel threw for 447 yards and four scores and the Bobcat defense did the rest as Marshalltown got its first win of the season, besting Class 3A state-ranked Pella, 31-7.
"Winning is a lot better than that other thing," Marshalltown head coach David Holdiman said. "Pella has a good team and will have a good season. They played hard and never quit. We were just able to cash in on some opportunities in the second half."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS senior wideout Tad Steffensen hauls in a pass between three Pella defenders Friday during the Bobcats’ 31-7 win at Leonard Cole Field. Steffensen finished with 13 catches, 185 yards and one touchdown in the win. Defending for Pella on the play are Quinton Murphy (31) and Nathan Clayberg (6).
The Bobcats led 14-0 at halftime but the damange could have been much worse as three big plays were negated due to holding calls. Two of those plays were touchdown receptions by senior wideout Tad Steffensen. The other was a big reception by Steffensen that ended up deep in Pella territory. The Bobcats punted on two of those drives.
"We made a lot of self-inflicted mistakes," Holdiman said. "If we want to be a good team this year, we have to fix that stuff. We left too many points on the field tonight, and that is inexcusable."
The Bobcats got on the board first in the first period as Gimbel connected with senior wideout De'Quan McDowell, who caught the deep pass, broke a tackle and sprinted to the end zone for a 62-yard score. He drug two defenders into the end zone with him on the play.
The other first-half touchdown was by Steffensen and it covered 22 yards. The drive started at the Marshalltown 49 and came with less than a minute on the clock. Gimbel threw three passes - one incompletion - and the Bobcats went up 14-0 with a touchdown. Both catches were made by Steffensen, who finished with 13 catches for 185 yards and a score. The 13 catches was just one reception shy of a school record held by Jarrod Carlson.
"That touchdown gave us some momentum in the game, and we are capable of doing that when we are not putting ourselves in a hole," Holdiman said. "We have to be our own best friend. But the errors we made in the game can be fixed."
Gimbel went back to work in the second half, accounting for all 17 points. The first three points came on a Gimbel 36-yard field with 4:47 to play in the third.
The other points came on TD passes to senior wideout Brandon Pettigrew. The first came in the third quarter and covered 5 yards on a screen pass. The second TD came with 7:23 to play in the fourth quarter and was a 26-yarder on a flag pattern to the corner of the end zone. Gimbel hit two PATs as well and accounted for all 31 points scored in the game.
The Bobcat offense scored enough points to win the game, but the defense played much better against Pella this week than it did against Ankeny a week ago. The Dutch managed 356 total yards, but Marshalltown came up with big plays when it needed them most.
The coaching staff fixed the issues in the secondary by using their best offensive playmakers in the defensive backfield. Steffensen, McDowell, Pettigrew and Dacoda Ewalt all played snaps on defense to help with the depth and it worked out much better for them in the end
Pella still manged some big plays with its misdirection offense that featured a lot of option and reverses.
"We still have some work to do," Holdiman said. "They caught us on a few reverses and some screens."
Pella's lone score came on a 71-yard reverse by junior Lukas Steenhoek, who gained 103 yards on six carries in the game. The Dutch got deep into Marshalltown territory several times but either turned it over on downs or turned it over with an interception.
Sophomore cornerback Michael Schrempf had a first-half interception that ended a good Pella drive. He later left the game with a broken hand and could miss some time in future games.
Starting running back Colton Fuller also left the game in the first half with what appeared to be a knee injury.
Gimbel finished 30-of-48 for 447 yards and four scores. McDowell ended up with 165 yards on eight catches. Pettigrew accounted for 64 receiving yards and two scores on five receptions.
The Bobcats rushed it just nine times and gained negative yardage. The Dutch threw for 142 and rushed for another 214.
Pella QB Josh De Waard finished with 142 passing yards and another 39 rushing yards. ... Schrempf may be able to play football again this season but a broken hand will likely end his golf season. ... Tyler Kluver and Pedro Gomez led the defense for Marshalltown. Gomez finished with 11 tackles, three tackles for loss and one sack, while Kluver had nine tackles, a half-sack and several pass breakups. Derek Mann also had 10 tackles for the Bobcats. ... At halftime, Sports Page was recognized for a $1,622 donation it gave to the Bobcat athletics. ... Marshalltown stays at home next Friday to take on Waukee. That game will kick off at 7 p.m.