LEON — Coming off a stinging 36-point loss, Pella Christian High’s Eagles went into Friday’s Class 1A, District 7 opener ready to win again.
The district opener didn’t start out very well against the 2-0 Central Decatur Cardinals in Leon. The Cardinals scored on a 35-yard punt return.
“Then we got our offense going in the second quarter,” said Eagle head coach Rich Kacmarynski, Friday night following his team’s 31-14 road victory.
The Eagles scored the tying touchdown on a quarterback sneak by senior Coltin Collins. Junior Jacob Brouwer kicked the extra point to give the Eagles the lead for good, 7-6.
Brouwer’s 32-yard field goal extended the lead. Mason Howerzyl, senior running back, scampered 18 yards for a touchdown. The Eagles were ahead 17-6.
The Cardinals went to the air as time was winding down in the first half. A long pass put them on the Pella Christian two-yard line. They scored with seven seconds left, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 17-12 at halftime.
“We didn’t play well in the third quarter. We started out well with a nice drive, but we failed on a fourth-and-goal at the one,” Kacmarynski said.
But the Eagle defense dislodged the football from the Cardinals. Howerzyl recovered the fumble in the end zone for a touchdown for Pella Christian.
Leading 24-12, Kacmarynski said his team didn’t move the ball and gave up a safety, when Central Decatur sacked Collins in the end zone for the two points.
“Defensively, we played pretty well. We only gave up six points on defense tonight. We allowed 197 yards of offense against us and that’s good team defense,” he said.
The Eagles’ final touchdown of the night came in the fourth quarter. Collins returned an interception 15 yards for the score. Brouwer nailed his fourth extra-point kick for the win.
Collins was 7-of-12 passing for 135 yards. Howerzyl rushed for 133 yards on 29 carries. Miles Wichhart, a freshman, had 34 yards on seven carries while junior Carson Dugger had 23 yards on six hauls and junior Dillon Branderhorst had four yards on five carries.
Dugger had two receptions for 69 yards, and Branderhorst made two catches for 25 yards. Junior Jake De Ruiter made two catches for for 23 yards and Howerzyl had an 18-yard catch.
David Kacmarynski, a freshman, led the Eagle defense with seven solo stops — three were for losses — and four assisted tackles. De Ruiter recored five solo tackles and one assisted tackle, plus an interception. Howerzyl had four solo tackles and a fumble recovery.
Senior Zach Van Zee had three solo tackles — two for losses — and three assisted tackles. Senior Andrew Vander Hart made two tackles for losses. Branderhorst and Brouwer had a fumble recovery apiece.
The Eagles, 2-1 overall and 1-0 in district play, are on the road this Friday in Class 1A, District 7 play against Des Moines Christian, which lost 10-7 to Ogden last Friday.