From the opening kickoff all the way to the final snap of the game, Marshalltown's football team was in complete control Friday at Leonard Cole Field.
Senior De'Quan McDowell returned Hoover's opening kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown and the Bobcats never looked back, serving up a 61-7 Homecoming triumph over the Huskies. it was the fourth straight victory for the Bobcats, who are now 5-2 on the season.
"It was almost a replay of last week for us," MHS coach David Holdiman said. "I liked the way we kept our edge and intensity in the first half."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS senior Nick Whaley holds up the ball after recovering a fumble against Des Moines Hoover on Friday night. Senior Pedro Gomez (61) also was there to celebrate the turnover. The Bobcat defense gave up just seven points, 196 yards and forced two turnovers in the 61-7 victory.
The Bobcats did not punt in the game and have only punted once in the past two wins over Hoover and Ottuwma. Marshalltown also is 11-for-11 on red zone opportunities in those contests. Friday, the Bobcats got into the red zone six times and scored touchdowns on all of them.
We were outstanding in the red zone," Holdiman said. "Any time you can go 11-for-11 in two games tells me the offense is really clicking right now."
And the defense played pretty well against Hoover, too. Led by seniors Tyler Kluver and Pedro Gomez, the Bobcats gave up just four first downs in the first two quarters. Kluver, Connor Overstake and Nick Whaley also combined for three sacks in the first half. Whaley also recovered a Hoover fumble and Brandon Pettigrew nabbed an interception in the secondary.
"We played another outstanding game on defense," Holdiman said. "We kept things in front of us for the most part. We tackled well and contained their breakaway plays."
The Bobcats led 54-0 at halftime, but Hoover managed to get on the board on its first drive of the second half. Brock Larsen hooked up with Matt Pearson for a 40-yard touchdown to make it 54-7.
"I was a little upset that they scored, but every team has their moments though," said Gomez, who once again terrorized the opposition's front line. "(Kluver) and I know what's going on, so it is up to us to lead the way for the young guys."
McDowell's opening kickoff return for a touchdown got the crowd into the game from the start. He finished with a team-high eight catches for 133 yards and two receiving scores.
"I just saw the hole and shot right up through it," McDowell said of the kickoff return. "This is my senior year, and my last Homecoming. I was ready to play tonight."
Blake Gimbel had another stellar night through the air. He was 24-of-31 for 363 yards and five scores. He did not play at all in the fourth quarter.
Gimbel's favorite target, Tad Steffensen, was limited to just two catches for 19 yards but both grabs went for scores. Steffensen injured his knee in last week's game and then re-aggravated it again Friday. Holdiman said they held him out because there was no need to play him with such a large lead.
Brandon Pettigrew and Dacoda Ewalt helped pick up the slack though. Ewalt had 102 yards on five catches, while Pettigrew added seven catches, 95 yards and one score. The other touchdowns came from tailbacks Colton Fuller and Connor Ruddick.
Fuller had 23 rushing yards and two scores, while Ruddick added 38 rushing yards and scored the team's lone second-half touchdown.
While Hoover's touchdown bothered Holdiman, he was glad his team was able to bounce back and answer the score with a TD of their own.
"The game was well in hand so it is hard to keep pushing in a game like that, but give Hoover credit," Holdiman said. "They came down the field and scored. I was just glad we were able to answer them."
Hoover's offense mustered just 196 total yards and only gained 1 yard on the ground in 22 carries. The Bobcats also held the Huskies to just 4-of-14 on third down and 0-for-4 on fourth down. Marshalltown also committed just two penalties in the game.
"The games at the beginning of the season don't really matter," Gomez said. "We're trying to get better every week, and I think we are doing that."
McDowell said the chemistry he and the other receivers have with Gimbel is growing each week. The offense has been clicking on all cylinders lately, too.
"We're working hard in practice and he and I are improving our timing," McDowell said. "I am just trying to get better each week."
The Bobcats improved to 5-2 overall and are now 2-0 in Class 4A Division 3. They do not play next week and will end the season with a road trip to Mason City and a home game against Dowling Catholic.
The next move for Marshalltown though is to get healthy.
"The bye is coming at a good time," Holdiman said. "The week off will help us heal. We will work out but it will be a week of rest mainly."
Hoover's Larsen finished with 195 yards, one touchdown and one interception through the air. Pearson had 101 of those yards to lead the Husky receivers. ... Marshalltown had 27 first downs to Hoover's 12. ... The Bobcats are now 3-1 at Leonard Cole Field this year. ... Steffensen, McDowell and Pettigrew all have at least 45 catches on the season. Ewalt has 32 catches for 397 yards and four scores. ... During Marshalltown's four-game win streak, the Bobcats have outscored their opponents 199-56.