Three key turnovers, all in the red zone no less, determined the winners of the Blazer game at Sigourney, Oct. 30. The Cobras took advantage and won 35-14, ending the Blazer season at 6-3.
Sigourney-Keota (9-0) advances to play Waterloo Columbus (8-1) at Waterloo, Nov. 6.
In a game that was a whole lot closer than the score when you look at the stats, those three turnovers made the big difference. Two of them were interceptions of Nick Offerman passes, by Wyatt Sieren and Brady Duwa, the third a fumble at the Cobra five-yard line. All three ended Blazer series that had been moving the ball quickly and decisively against a line that had held its opponents to less than a nine-point average all year, blanking their last two opponents.
S-K played a ground control game and ran two backs, especially Sam Sieren, who gained 226 yards on 36 carries, the majority of the time. After Sieren had scored his first TD of four on the night with four minutes left in the first quarter, the Blazers took over at their own 26 and moved, in 12 plays, to the Cobra 17 where they were forced to attempt a field goal. With the Cobra line jumping all over the field, Logan Burchard pulled it right for the miss, ending the first quarter 7-0 Cobras.
In the second, S-K again ground down the field on Sieren’s legs. Stymied at third-and-16 by back-to-back false starts, Sieren got loose for 20 and a first down, saving the series. A Cade Molyneux to Evan Dawson pass of 38 yards ended with another touchdown and it was 14-0.
The Blazers took over at their own 30 and moved the ball well until the first pick, a pass from Offerman that ended in the arms of Wyatt Sieren on the Cobra 10. They were forced to kick, giving the Blazers another chance from their own 29. With runs from Owen Huehnergarth, who led the team with 105 yards, and passes to Conner Grover, Max Mullis and Eric Heinrichs, the Blazers moved almost at will downfield, until Duwa stepped in front of Trent Koelker at the 16 and ended the drive again, holding the score to 14-0 by halftime.
Opening the second half with the ball, the Blazers again moved at will, something that made a member of the chain gang comment, “This is the toughest team we’ve seen all year.” This series ended 10 plays later with a fumble on the five-yard line, turning the ball over to the Cobras. They ended the third, 17 plays later, in control and began the fourth with three short plays that culminated in another Sam Sieren touchdown, 20-0.
On the next Blazer series, it took a mere two minutes for Offerman to find Koelker from 10 yards out for a TD, making it 20-7 with 8:32 left in the game. An attempt at an onside kick didn’t go as planned and the Cobras took over at midfield, needing only their first play to break Seiren open for a 49-yard TD and a 28-7 score when he also ran in the two-point conversion.
The Blazer possession ended four straight incomplete passes later, giving the Cobras a short field at the Blazers 43. But this series ended for the Cobras with a Koelker interception of a Molyneux pass at the, again, five-yard line. Three incomplete Blazer passes, the most damaging on fourth and five at the 11, turned the ball back to the Cobras who needed just two plays to score again, 35-7.
With two minutes left on the clock, the Blazers took over at their own 25. Huenergarth gained 11 yards, Offerman 17, before a pass to Heinrichs added 22. Two plays later, Koelker ran 23 yards down the sidelines and snagged a pass for the final Blazer tally with 19 seconds left.
And those even stats? The Cobras gained 333 yards of total offense, the Blazers 344. The Cobras ran for 314 yards, the Blazers passed for 181. The Cobras ran 58 plays, the Blazers 56 and gained 21 first downs to the Cobras’ 19.
“It was a tough night for us,” reiterated coach mark Atwater. “I think anyone who went to the game saw it was much closer than the score indicated. We were in great positions offensively, just couldn’t capitalize when we got close to the endzone. Those are the things you have to do against other good teams.
“We forced them to drive the ball on us and to their credit, they were able to do it. We weren’t just giving up big plays all over. We just couldn’t get our defense off the field. They have their single-wing offense and ran it the way they wanted to run it. If we could have forced a few more punts, the game would have been much different.
“I’m proud of this group’s effort though, they always play hard. They give me so much every time they step on the field, it has been a joy to coach these young men. I’m sure not a lot of people would have thought we would be in this position at the beginning of the season, so it’s a testament to the kids in how much they have improved week by week.”
Individual stats for the Blazers included: passing — Offerman 18-of-33 for 181 yards, two TDs, two picks; receivers — Heinrichs 6-for-66, Mullis 4-for-44, Koelker 3-for-41 and two TDs, Grover 5-for-30; rushing — Huehnergarth 18-for-105, Offerman 6-for-46, Cayden Gassmann 1-for-1; tackles — Jason Koopmann 8.5 (four solo), Grover eight (four), Koelker six (three), Nick Wulfekuhle 5.5 (three), Owen Gaul five (one, one for loss), Arturo Venegas 4.3 (three), Burchard 3.5 (three), Huehnergarth 3.5 (one), Lucas Boge two (one), Luke Hirsch and Michael Dinan 1.5 (one), Drew Soppe .5; kick returns — Koelker 3-for-56, Mullis 1-for-19, Gassmann 1-for-18.