Rocket running attack too much for Mustangs

The Mustang football team will get the chance to face Class 2A District 7 opponent West Burlington-Notre Dame (WBND) after all. Davis County will host WBND in the opening round of the Class 2A Pod 11 playoff game this Friday night. The game will be played at Mustang Stadium beginning at 7 p.m.

The Mustang football team finished the regular season Oct. 9 with a 36-12 loss against Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont. The loss dropped Davis County back to 3-3 overall and 1-2 in Class 2A District 7 play. Davis County was supposed to play WBND in late September but COVID-19 isolation problems forced that game to be canceled.

The Iowa High School Athletic Association’s playoff structure pits three of the Class 2A District 7 teams in Pod 11. The winner of this Friday night’s game at Mustang Stadium will earn the right to advance to the second round. Williamsburg is awaiting the winner of this game in that second-round match-up.

For Coach Scott Murdock and the Mustangs, they are disappointed in the outcome of last Friday night’s loss to EBF but are excited for the chance to continue playing and hosting the opening round playoff game.

“We are looking forward to redemption and a playoff victory,” said Murdock of the upcoming game.

For the Mustangs, this week’s game against WBND will be a chance to improve and show what they can do against a WBND style of play that is similar to what EBF showed the Mustangs last week. WBND runs a single-win offense and will also attack the Mustang offense with a similar defensive scheme to what the Mustangs struggled against last Friday night.

“West Burlington this week at home will run the same single wing offense and a similar defense just with man-to-man coverage,” said Murdock. He and the Mustangs are working hard in practice to prepare for that WBND attack this Friday night.

Last Friday night’s homecoming loss to EBF was one the Mustangs would like to have back. The Rockets’ entire offense was centered on the running attack that dominates the single-wing offensive scheme. EBF gained 294 yards on the ground with most of that coming from quarterback Thane Alexander. The Rockets were just one of three throwing the ball for 10 yards in the game.

The Mustangs produced a strong opening drive last Friday night that put them on top with the game’s first score. Mustang Quarterback Carson Maeder found Easton White up the middle for a 30-yard pass play to spark that drive. Gavin McCall and Clayton Smith carried the ball eight times on the drive as Davis County marched 73 yards in nearly seven minutes to take the 7-0 lead.

EBF answered with a seven-play, 76-yard drive for a score and a 7-6 lead. Alexander gained 52 of his game high 219 rushing yards on that drive alone.

The Mustangs didn’t let that opening drive phase them. On the ensuing kickoff, Maeder took the ball and raced up field for a 45-yard kickoff return. The Mustangs started their next drive on the EBF 40-yard line.

The Mustangs did what they always do and put together a nice mix of run and pass plays for this drive. McCall caught a pass for eight yards and White later caught a pass for 13 as the Mustangs moved down to the EBF 13-yard line.

Maeder found Mustang receiver Caedyn Glosser down the far sideline for another nice gain, but the Mustangs were six yards shy of the goal line after that play. White later caught a pass for the score and a 12-7 Mustang lead with 10:17 left in the half.

EBF again had a quick answer to the Mustang score. Alexander sprinted around the right side of the Mustang defense and got into the open for a huge run. Alexander scored on a 37-yard run and put the Rockets up 14-12.

The Mustangs traded possessions with EBF without scores soon after that. The Rockets pinned Davis County deep in their own territory with a 64-yard punt that was not returned. The Rockets then intercepted a Maeder pass and turned that into another touchdown with 52 seconds left in the half.

The first half ended with both teams committing turnovers. Davis County fumbled the ball on the kickoff return before the Mustang pass defense intercepted an Alexander pass to shut down that early drive. EBF took a 21-12 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter turned into a defensive battle from both teams. The Rockets started the half with the ball but gained just three positive yards before being forced to punt by the Mustang defense. The Mustangs managed to gain one first down on their first offensive possession, but netted just 20 yards before giving the ball up on downs.

Davis County shut down the EBF attack once more in the quarter but was forced to put the ball away early in the fourth quarter on their next drive. The highlight of the drive was Maeder hooking up with Easton White again with a 31-yard pass.

The Rockets dominated the fourth quarter keeping the Mustangs on defense. Davis County ran just five offensive plays in the fourth quarter, gaining no positive yardage.

The Mustangs had another chance to secure the ball after an EBF score with 5:29 to play. A fumbled kickoff return gave the ball back to EBF and led to their final scoring drive of the night.

“I thought our kids learned a lot about playing in the trenches this week,” said Murdock of his team. “There’s a lot to learn in a loss and there’s a lot that can be learned when a team runs the ball at you like Eddyville did. We have to run through our tackles. Offensively, we have to put up more points.”