If Zach Uhlenhopp was nervous about making his debut at quarterback for PCM Friday night, it didn’t show.
The junior signal caller stepped up this week after regular starter Nate Vande Wall, a senior, went down with a broken foot after the previous weekend’s loss to Albia. With Vande Wall under center, the Mustangs had amassed nearly 2,000 yards in the air.
With Uhlenhopp, it was a completely different game plan.
The Mustangs rang up 213 yards on the ground as they cruised to a 42-0 victory over Clarke of Osceola Friday night. Uhlenhopp had 140 of those yards on just 12 carries, three of which were for touchdowns.
The junior scored on runs of 4, 12 and 4 yards, respectively, while adding a fourth touchdown on a 9-yard pass to Michael Neff. He was just 2-for-7 passing for 40 yards, the touchdown to Neff and one interception in the first half.
The Mustangs needed just four plays and one minute, 19 seconds, to score the first points of the night. Uhlenhopp scrambled with the ball on all four plays during the drive, weaving in and out of packs of defenders all the way.
PCM then forced a turnover on the Indians’ next possession, taking over at its own 10-yard line. The Mustangs couldn’t do much with that next possession, but the defense forced a turnover on downs a couple minutes later, giving the Mustangs the ball at their own 40-yard line.
Uhlenhopp carried the ball twice, taking it down to the Clarke 15, setting up the second scoring run of the night for Blake McWilliams on the very next play. The extra point kick was blocked and the ensuing kickoff went out of bounds.
Clarke opted for a re-kick and took over at its own 41. On the very next play, however, Ethan Kain picked off a Rich Wilkins pass at the Mustang 33. The Mustang defense would finish the game with four interceptions of Indian passes — two by Kain and one each by McWilliams and Jade Coleman.
Three plays later, Uhlenhopp marched in from 12 yards out, then converted a two-point pass to Coleman on a fake kick to make the score 21-0 with less than eight seconds to play in the first quarter. After forcing Clarke to punt on its next possession, Kain returned the ensuing punt to the Indians’ 41.
Two minutes later, Uhlenhopp connected with Neff to make the score 28-0.
Midway through the second quarter, Wilkins attempted a quarterback keeper up the middle, gaining five yards for Clarke. But, he was injured on the play and was forced to leave the game. Logan Weers took the snap on the next play, then Brett Moffett went under center for the Indians.
A short time later, on a third-and-9 from the Clarke 41, Coleman picked off a Moffett pass and returned it to the Mustang 39. But three plays later, Uhlenhopp’s pass intended for Kain was picked off by an Indian defender at the Clarke 5.
PCM returned the favor three plays later when McWilliams picked off another Moffett pass and returned it to the Clarke 5 with about two minutes remaining. Uhlenhopp ran the ball in a short time later from 4 yards out to make the score 35-0 with 1:15 remaining in the half.
To start the second half, PCM had a running clock, Clarke had first possession of the football. But with a running clock, there was too little time to mount any kind of comeback. The Mustangs added a sixth touchdown in the second half.
McWilliams led the defense with 10 tackles, while Justin Beener had six and Coleman had five. The Mustangs combined for seven tackles for loss in the game. No sacks or fumble recoveries were recorded in the game for PCM.
The Mustangs return to action this Friday with another district match-up in their home finale against Davis County of Bloomfield.