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Ames outlasts ’Cats, 21-13

PHOTO BY NIRMALENDU MAJUMDAR/AMES TRIBUNE - Marshalltown’s Jonathan Hernandez (7) runs with the ball around Ames defensive back Bernard Bell for a first down during the second quarter of Friday’s games at Ames High School.

AMES — The good news is that Marshalltown head coach Adam Goodvin characterizes everything that went wrong for the Bobcats as “simple mistakes.”

The bad part is that each came at the absolute worst times.

Marshalltown suffered its first loss of the season on Friday night against archrival Ames, falling 21-13 on the Little Cyclones’ home field.

Ames scored its two touchdowns from scrimmage on fourth-down plays, while the other was a 65-yard punt return less than two minutes into the contest.

The Bobcats (3-1) bounced back from each dose of adversity, but could not complete the comeback.

T-R PHOTO BY ANNE VANCE - Marshalltown defensive back Bennett O’Hare (21) signals the other way after the Bobcats recovered a fumble during Friday’s football game in Ames.

“Very proud of how they kept fighting all night long no matter the circumstances,” said Goodvin. “It takes extreme effort to give us chances to win games and we had them. We’ve got some tough kids and they really know how to respond when things don’t go our way always.”

Marshalltown’s opening possession ended after three plays and a punt, which Ames freshman Tamin Lipsey took back 65 yards for the game’s opening score. The Bobcats persevered another hiccup when a muffed punt return set up the Little Cyclones (2-2) with savory field position, but a missed field goal kept MHS within one score.

Marshalltown answered with a long touchdown drive that ended with a Jonathan Hernandez hauling the ball across the goal line from 15 yards away. The extra-point kick by Kabba Pins knotted the score at 7-all, and that’s the way it remained for the final 4:36 of the first half and the entire third quarter.

Ames, having nearly notched the go-ahead score on the final play of the third period, went back to the air when Cooper Downs connected with Dane Hustedt on a 27-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-long. Gabe Wyant broke up Downs’ first potential TD pass to Hustedt, but the Little Cyclones capitalized on their second chance.

Marshalltown tried to respond in kind, but a long pass play ended with a lost fumble and Ames converted the free possession when Downs hooked up with Lipsey from 32 yards away, again on fourth down, with 4:42 to play.

PHOTO BY NIRMALENDU MAJUMDAR/AMES TRIBUNE - Marshalltown linebacker Carson Beals takes down Ames running back Kavon Domond during the first quarter at Ames High football Stadium Friday in Ames.

“We played well all night and slipped up a couple times on fourth down and that’s what cost us,” said Goodvin. “We were right there, we just can’t have those simple mistakes.

“We knew it’d be a challenge. They are good athletes with great size but I’m very happy with how our defensive backs put themselves in positions to slow them down. Ames is the most talented team we’ve played so far, I’d say. Credit them, they have some athletes and good size and will win more ballgames this year.”

The Bobcats got back nearly half of the deficit when Derrick Garth punched it in to paydirt from 2 yards out with 2:18 to go, but they couldn’t recover the onside kick and had to go 80 yards with 1:46 remaining and no timeouts when they got the ball back. But on the first play, MHS quarterback Jacob Smith was sacked, fumbled, and Cory Gibson fell on the loose ball to clinch the Little Cyclone victory.

“They were bummed out,” Goodvin said of his team’s first loss. “They played their tails off all game and showed outstanding effort but came up a bit short. A few plays go differently and it’s a different outcome.

“Losing is never fun and I told them we aren’t going to get used to this feeling. We will get back to work on Monday and learn from this. This is a determined group of kids and I have no doubt we will continue to improve and give ourselves more chances to win ballgames.”

T-R PHOTO BY ANNE VANCE

The Bobcats go back out on the road next Friday night, traveling to face Ankeny Centennial (4-0) in the Class 4A District 2 opener.

T-R PHOTO BY ANNE VANCE