Scoring on its first five possessions, the Marshalltown Bobcat football team jumped out to an early lead against Ottumwa and never looked back Friday.
Senior quarterback Blake Gimbel threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more in the first half against the Bulldogs, and the Bobcats had their way on both sides of the ball in a 49-7 triumph at Leonard Cole Field.
"We really challenged our kids this week to get by what seemed to be a jinx in the early part of games," MHS coach David Holdiman said. "This is what we wanted to see. We really had it going tonight."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS seniors Eli Devine, left, and Austin Butcher, right, take down Ottumwa’s Sam Griffiths during the Bobcats’ 49-7 win over the Bulldogs on Friday night at Leonard Cole Field. Griffiths carried the ball 30 times but gained just 85 yards against the MHS defense.
Colton Fuller added another touchdown run in the first half and the only other drive of the half saw Tad Steffensen fumble at the goal line. He appeared to have crossed the line but the officials called it a fumble. It was the only mishap of the night for Marshalltown, which improved to 4-2 on the season.
The Bobcats also are 1-0 in the new Division 3 of the CIML Conference. It was Marshalltown's third straight victory.
"The kids knew they played well tonight," Holdiman said. "It was a strong effort."
When Gimbel and the other starters at the skill positions were in the game, the Bobcats scored on every possession except the one that ended in a fumble at the goal line.
The only second-half touchdown for the Bobcats was a 6-yard pass play from Gimbel to Dacoda Ewalt.
Gimbel finished 22-of-26 through the air for 313 yards and four TDs and added two more TDs on the ground. Steffenson accounted for more than half of Gimbel's passing yards with seven catches for 162 yards and one score.
De'Quan McDowell added four catches for 59 yards and two scores, while Brandon Pettigrew caught five balls for 42 yards. Ewalt had the one TD as well as four catches for 35 yards.
The entire second half was played under a continuous clock due to the 35-point mercy rule and the second half took less than one hour to complete.
Ottumwa gained just 195 yards on the night and had just 12 first downs. The Bulldogs finally got on the board with 10:57 to play in the game as Sam Griffiths scored on a 25-yard run. Griffiths needed 30 carries to gain 85 yards on the night.
"We stymied their running game," Holdiman said. "Our front seven played a whale of a game. Ottumwa was forced to pass and that is plan B for those guys. That played into our advantage."
Marshalltown did not have school Friday, but the Bobcats made sure the unusual day and different routine did not affect them.
"The kids got up early and got breakfast," Holdiman said. "It was good to get up at the same time as they would have gotten up if there was school."
The Bobcats did not play like there was a potential distraction. Marshalltown gained 393 yards of total offense, was only penalized four times and was a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone. The Bobcats also punted just once in the game and converted 5-of-6 third downs.
The performance was so good that the second-stringers got into the game after just one second-half possession from the starters.
"It was important for us to give other guys some playing time," Holdiman said. "We needed to give them a chance to play in front of some fans and under the lights. It can be a challenge though to get them in with that continuous clock."
The Bobcats will next face Des Moines Hoover at Leonard Cole Field. It is Marshalltown's Homecoming contest and it will kick off at 7:30 p.m. The Huskies have just one win on the season.
"I have looked at them a little bit," Holdiman said. "They've got a good passing attack. It'll be a different approach and a different gameplan to this game."
Gimbel has thrown for 2,278 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. For his career, Gimbel has thrown for 6,505 yards, which trails only Tyler Peschong in MHS history. He also has thrown 59 career touchdown passes. The Bobcats have identical 2-1 records at home and on the road. Steffensen has 830 receiving yards on 59 catches and seven TDs this year. He is averaging better than 138 yards per game. With a very short second half and the continuous clock, the game ended at 9:05 p.m. Des Moines Hoover had its bye week Friday night. The Bobcats' bye week will come the week after playing the Huskies.