’Cats bite back
Marshalltown scores 45 unanswered to down Mason City
Nothing seemed to go right for the Marshalltown football team in the first 13 minutes of its home game against Mason City on Friday at Leonard Cole Field.
The Bobcats failed to score on their opening possession for the first time this season and went three-and-out twice in the first quarter. On their only trip into Mohawk territory, they got all the way down to the 9-yard line before turning it over on downs.
Mason City took its opening drive in for a score, the first one of the season, then on the first play of the second quarter Chris Keller ran for a 31-yard score to put the Mohawks up 13-0.
From that moment on it was all Bobcats.
Marshalltown scored on each of its next four possessions in the second quarter to take a 25-13 lead over Mason City at halftime, then three more scores in the second half put the game away as MHS rolled to a 45-13 victory over the Mohawks for its first 3-0 start to a season in eight years.
Bobcat head coach Adam Goodvin said the turnaround in the second quarter from all came from the leadership on the field.
“It was all on our players, it can’t take a coach to get you fired up to play this game and I think our seniors really stepped up,” he said. “We needed a couple of guys to make some plays and a couple of our seniors did, and I think that was the turning point and got our guys rolling.”
What stifled the Marshalltown (3-0) offense in the first quarter was the way the Mohawks (0-3) were playing the run. Mason City stuffed the gaps and gave the Bobcats no room to maneuver, but while the running lanes weren’t open there were some open areas down the field.
That’s where MHS quarterback Jacob Smith came in, as he stepped up and softened the Mason City defensive front with some surgical strikes down the field.
One pass in particular on the first Bobcat scoring drive found Will Van Buren for a 33-yard gain that set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Derrick Garth, then on a 4th-and-14 play deep in Mohawk territory Smith found Jonathan Hernandez for a huge 25-yard completion that led to a Garth 1-yard run a play later.
“Jacob was awesome, we knew we had to run the ball and throw in some pass to keep them off balance,” Goodvin said. “We weren’t going to be able to just line up and run it every play, our guys did a great job of blocking and our offensive line was outstanding again. Even with a lot of those guys going both ways, I am really proud of them.”
Smith would again find Hernandez for a 10-yard touchdown with 1:18 left on the clock before halftime that put the Bobcats up 25-13, then Hernandez scored twice on the ground in the second half on a 30-yard and 71-yard sprint. Smith finished the game going 9-for-13 with 160 yards and a touchdown.
Once the pass softened up the run, the Bobcats went to work with what they wanted to do. For a third-straight game Marshalltown rushed for over 300 yards, led for a second-straight time by senior Giorgio DiIorio, who finished with 138 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
“I felt like we had them on their heels a little bit and our run game opened up,” DiIorio said. “Our line stepped it up through the rest of the game and they did a really good job today.”
Even the guys on the sideline could feel the momentum shift.
“When we started catching up on our yardage, Giorgio started running really well, that pass to Van Buren did help us a lot and boosted our confidence, and after that touchdown it was all us from there,” senior linebacker Jonathan McKeever said. “We were all ready to roll, that’s when we were saying, ‘we got this, we are coming back, it’s our game.'”
In just three games now, Marshalltown has scored more points (131) than it did all last season (112) and it has 949 total rushing yards.
What Goodvin said made a big difference was how the offensive line grew throughout the game, making changes when necessary to neutralize the Mohawk defensive strategy.
“They play and learn, learn after each play and adjust,” Goodvin said. “Sooner or later we are going to get a couple of big ones and break a few, and that’s exactly what happened. I am very proud of the way they adjusted to the fronts we saw and their effort putting themselves in the right position to have a successful play.”
The other difference maker came on the defensive side, where Marshalltown forced Mason City into five lost fumbles, and eight in total. McKeever forced two of those on his own, and he said that came from an adjustment he and the rest of the defense made.
“By the end of the second quarter we all started realizing they weren’t really holding the ball, they were getting tired, a lot of us were starting to pick it up again and we started talking about stripping it and keeping going,” McKeever said. “After stripping a few we all went for the ball, and that’s what we needed to do.”
When the defense wasn’t forcing turnovers it was keeping the Mohawks out of the end
“They did an outstanding job and I think it all comes down to hustling and being physical,” Goodvin said of the defense. “Obviously we would like to not bend so far, but I am very proud of their effort tonight.”
The team’s ability to bounce back after such a terrible start is another new quality that the Bobcats showed on Friday night, and Goodvin said that bodes well for future games.
“That’s huge and a very good learning situation for us,” he said. “Hopefully on down the road when we run into that again, because it will happen, we can adjust and do the same thing we did tonight.”
Despite this being the largest winning margin of the season for the Bobcats, Goodvin said there are definitely areas they still have to grow, particularly in the turnover area.
“That’s something we are going to have to address on Monday afternoon when we meet again,” he said. “Obviously we don’t want those, we can’t turn the ball over inside our 30 and 20 yard lines as much as we did tonight and give them that great of field position because a lot of teams are going to execute after that and score. That will put us in a very bad hole if we do that enough.”
Still, Marshalltown is experiencing the most success it’s seen on the gridiron in quite some time, and McKeever said that all goes back to how they approach each week with a fresh outlook.
“Going into practice every Monday we all have the mindset of ‘alright that game’s past, we are moving on to the next game, this is where it starts,'” McKeever said. “Now this game is past, but we still got to 3-0.”
Marshalltown 45, Mason City 13
MHS 0 25 13 7 — 45
MC 6 7 0 0 — 13
MC — Chris Keller 8 pass from Connor Dalen (run failed), 8:32.
MC — Keller 31 run (Seth Drumheller kick), 11:53.
MHS — Derrick Garth 8 run (kick failed), 7:52.
MHS — Garth 2 run (kick failed), 4:36.
MHS — Garth 1 run (kick failed), 3:12.
MHS — Jonathan Hernandez 10 pass from Jacob Smith (Giorgio DiIorio kick), 1:18.
MHS — DiIorio 33 run (pass failed), 4:38.
MHS — Hernandez 30 run (Jake Vaughn kick), 4:25.
MHS — Hernandez 71 run (Jake Vaughn kick), 1:32.
First Downs 17 10
Rushes-yards 49-205 45-310
Passing yards 30 160
Comp-Att-Int 2-7-0 9-13-0
Total Offense 235 470
Fumbles-lost 8-5 4-3
RUSHING — MC: Joseph Quintero 15-68, Keller 4-39, Dalen 17-37, Cale Johnson 6-31, Marcos Cervantes 5-20, Jeffrey Skogen 1-7, Logan Houang 1-(minus-1); MHS: DiIorio 15-138, Hernandez 4-104, Garth 22-70, Carson Beals 2-3, Smith 2-(minus-5).
PASSING — MC: Dalen 2-7-30-0; MHS: Smith 9-13-160-0.
RECEIVING — MC: Connor Lafrenz 1-22, Keller 1-8; MHS: Garth 3-56, Will Van Buren 2-41, Hernandez 2-35, Eygabroad 1-18.