Maquoketa Valley suffered a 20-14 loss at the hands of Alburnett, Oct. 2, on the road.
“It was a disappointing night for us,” coach Trevor Arnold. “We were short a few guys due to illness but at the end of the day, you have to show up to play. We slept walked through most of the first half and struggled to take advantage of turnovers and big-play opportunities. We had a lot of missed assignments, dropped balls and being out of position on both sides of the ball.
“Offensively, Alburnett has not been very good through the first four games. They relied on defense and creating some turnovers as well as not turning it over themselves. The first play of the game we got a turnover but didn’t capitalize. Then again before half they gave us the ball on their own 35, but we were unable to get it in the endzone when we turned it over on downs at the 15.”
The Wildcats battled tough and forced four Pirate turnovers, but in the end couldn’t get enough offensive pressure for the win. Lucas Orcutt, a sophomore, recovered a pair of Alburnett fumbles. Seniors Owen Mensen and Tony Offerman each intercepted one Pirate pass.
MV earned most of its yards on the ground. Parker Sternhagen had 23 carries for 113 yards and one touchdown. He also had one two-point conversion. AJ Ambundo had 10-for-32 and one touchdown.
Sternhagen completed 5-of-28 passes for 58 yards and two interceptions. His receivers were Ambundo 2-for-16 yards and Andrew Kloser 3-for-42.
“Throwing the ball 28 times was not the game plan. We struggled to block up front for several reasons. Most of them were self-inflicted mistakes. The issue became that when we went to our passing game, we struggled to get the ball to the correct guy, dropped the ball or our pass protection broke down.
“It seemed like on any given play, we had three of our 11 not doing their job which led to us not being able to get anything going consistently. Throughout the game, Alburnett gave us very few plays to go to with any consistency. QB trap out of empty ended up being our only run play that could get us yards when we needed to run the ball. Nobody can win a game with one run play and that described the night for us offensively.”
Andrew Holtz had one kickoff return for 16 yards and Offerman had 1-for-6.
Ambundo returned two punts 20 yards. He also had three kickoffs for 120 yards. Offerman had seven punts for 206 yards an average of 29.4 yards per punt.
With the win, Alburnett improved to 3-2 on the season, while MV fell to 1-5.
“We are at a point in the season where time is officially running out. We have one regular-season game left and then a playoff game to see if we can keep going,” Arnold said. “Nobody ever wants the season to be over and we need to make some improvements if we want to keep playing. This week we play a really good opponent and we can’t make it any tougher by hurting ourselves in the process. We will be short a few guys still on the offensive line and at skill positions due to illness so we need some guys to step up and play at a high level. The best part is when you get to the playoffs everyone is in and you get another opportunity to make something happen. We want to end the year playing quality football and that is what we have struggled to do consistently throughout the season.”