Cardinal upset the Mustang football team last Friday night Sept. 10 in a non-district battle. The Comets won the game 42-38 and scored twice in the final minute to steal that victory away from the Mustangs.
Most everyone at the game in Eldon thought the Mustangs had the game won late in the fourth quarter. Especially after Carson Maeder ran the ball in from four yards out to secure a 10-point 38-28 lead over the Comets with 2:32 left to play.
The Mustangs’ final possession of the game was set up by a Dawson Townsend interception of a Maddux Jones’ pass. Townsend intercepted the ball on the Mustang 42-yard line and ran the ball back to the Cardinal 26 before being brought down. Davis County needed just four plays to punch the ball into the endzone and take the 10-point lead.
The way this game had gone, the Mustangs knew stopping Cardinal wouldn’t be easy. The Comets did their damage in the air. Jones threw for 424 yards in this game and the Comets added another 100 yards on the ground.
Cardinal started deep in their own territory and had a couple of penalties slow down their drive. However, Jones connected on pass plays of 17 yards, 33 yards and 21 yards on this drive. The 21-yarder secured the score and cut the Mustang lead to 38-34.
With just 47 seconds left to play, everyone in the place yard to know that Cardinal was going to attempt an on-side kick to try and get the ball back. The kick went to the right side and the ball bounced just right to get past a couple of Mustang players ready to fall on the ball. Cardinal secured the ball on the 50-yard line and went right back to work with its offense.
Jones and Landon Becker connected on two quick pass plays for 28 yards. A Mustang pass interference penalty helped move the ball closer to the Cardinal goal line. One play later a Jones’ pass was caught for the final score The Comets took a 42-38 led and left the Mustangs just two seconds on the clock.
The ensuing kickoff didn’t produce much in yardage for the Mustangs and they were forced to settle for the loss.
The loss was a disappointing one for Davis County. The Mustangs once again showed a lot of improvement in their play on the field. The Mustang running game was impressive against the Cardinal defense. Gavin McCall carried the ball 28 times in this one and enjoyed his first game over the 100-yard mark. He finished with 128 on the night. Carson Maeder added 85 yards in 17 carries while Tayden Bish and Hoyt Dzwoniarski combined for 15 yards on three carries.
Maeder also looked good throwing the ball in this game. He was 17-21 passing with no interceptions this week. He finished with an impressive 203 yards.
Caedyn Glosser did the bulk of the work receiving the ball with 90 yards in six catches. Dzwoniarski caught 3 passes for 35 yards.
Cardinal scored on their opening drive of the game after Jones threw for 80 yards in two pass plays to lead the Comets to the score.
Penalties plagued both teams in this game and kept drives from being sustained scoring chances. The game featured just one punt between the two teams as the defenses managed to shut down several early drives in this game.
The Mustangs didn’t score their first touchdown until the 6:52 mark in the second quarter. Maeder found Townsend for a 30-yard scoring pass, cutting the Cardinal lead to 8-6.
After stopping the next Cardinal drive, Davis County went back to work and marched 76-yards in eight plays to score again. Maeder was five of seven throwing the ball on this drive alone. The Mustangs gained 88 yards in those five pass plays and used a one-yard run from McCall to secure the score. The Mustangs led 14-8 at the half.
Davis County’s first turnover of the game came on a fumble early in the third quarter. Cardinal turned that turnover into points and tied the game at 14-14 with 11:04 left to play in the third quarter.
The Mustangs went back to the run on their next possession. The next 12 plays secured 82 yards of real estate before the Mustangs scored on a 10-yard run from McCall.
By the time the third quarter was over, Cardinal and Davis County were all tied up at 22-22.
The Comets forced Davis County to punt on its next possession and turned that into another score. With the clock flipping the game into the fourth quarter, Davis County was now down 28-22 with 11:25 left to play.
The Mustangs put together a nice mix of running and passing plays to get down the field on their next drive. McCall scored on a six-yard run with 10:04 left on the clock. The Mustangs added the two-point conversion and held a 30-28 lead at that point.
The Townsend interception helped Davis County score again after Cardinal chewed up almost eight minutes on their drive down the field. Davis County took the 38-28 lead and set up the exciting finish for the Comets to secure the win.
“The game against cardinal was a classic. Our kids played harder than I’ve seen them play in a long time. We talked about how they’re writing their own story before the game started. As teenagers, they’ve experienced enough in their lives to understand that the majority of things that have happened in their lives have had something to do with the decisions and the thoughts they’ve had,” said Mustang coach Scott Murdock. “They wrote a great story. We did not come out on top, but I’m proud of them and wish the ball had rolled a different way in that game. It’s time to move on. We still have a story to write.
The Mustangs now have to deal with homecoming week and a Centerville team that comes into the game with a record of 2-1. The Big Red beat Chariton in week one 48-20. They handed Albia at 42-7 loss and struggled against a Sigourney-Keota team that beat them 42-7 last Friday night.
Senior Sawyer Wardlow is a strong passer for the Big Reds connecting on 49 percent of his passes for 594 yards so far this season.
The Big Reds have 567 yards rushing in three games and average 6.7 yards per carry as a team. Wardlow has 214 of those rushing yards to prove he can be a dual threat. Jayden Ruiz has carried the ball 13 times for 113 yards as well and averages 8.7 yards per carry.
Defensively, Davis County will have to figure out a way to stop those two major threats and keep the Big Reds from having a big night. The pass defense will have to improve after giving up more than 400-yards to Cardinal last week.
“The Centerville game is going to be similar to last year. It’ll be hard fought. We’ve got to get locked in no matter who or what is in our way,” said Coach Murdock.