MONROE – Prairie City-Monroe’s first five possessions of 2014 were frustrating and deflating.
The final three quarters of the Mustangs’ first game, though, provided some optimism for a season that still has eight weeks to be played.
In a game that featured two evolved offenses from a year ago, visiting Pella Christian held off the Mustangs for a 44-30 victory Friday night. Sophomore David Kacmarynski did a little bit of everything for the Eagles, leading his team in passing yards (180), rushing yards (96) and recovering two fumbles on defense.
Kacmarynski quarterbacked Pella Christian to its third straight win over PCM, thanks in part to a woeful first quarter by the home team.
The Mustangs turned the ball over on three of its first four possessions — two came during PCM’s first five plays — and suffered from two errant snaps that prevented punts from being attempted.
The Eagles took advantage of the miscues and great field position — their first three scoring drives began at the PCM 44-, 42- and 19-yard lines — and led, 20-0, at the end of the first quarter.
“I told my guys you can’t go out there and snap two punts over the punter’s head and turn the ball over three or four times in the first quarter and let them score 20 on you and expect to win many games,” Prairie City-Monroe head coach Greg Bonnett said. “They knew that.”
Pella Christian’s first two touchdowns came via sophomore Miles Wichhart and a ground game that amassed 234 yards rushing on 49 attempts.
“Obviously, we’re a young team, PCM had to replace some guys from last year, so anytime you go into an opening game, you’re kind of wondering what’s going to happen early on,” Pella Christian head coach Rich Kacmarynski said. “Obviously, the ball bounced our way early on and that hurt PCM.”
The head coach’s son, David, kept PCM at bay throughout. After the Mustangs worked their way within one score of the Eagles at 23-16 by scoring on the opening possession of the third quarter, Kacmarynski picked up two critical first downs — the first on a fourth-and-1 and the second on a third-and-3 — with his legs to sustain the ensuing drive that ended in Wichhart’s third run into the end zone on the night.
Following another PCM touchdown that brought the Mustangs to within seven again, Kacmarynski delivered a big blow on the first play of the fourth quarter. On a third-and-7 from midfield, the first-year starter took off down the middle of the field, shedding tacklers for a 50-yard touchdown run and a 37-23 Eagle lead.
“He doesn’t go down easy. He’s got a lot of moxie,” Bonnett said. “He can stay in there and when he’s rolling out and we’re sending backers at him, the kid has the guts to stand up, take the shot and make the throw. He’s a tough runner. He runs that offense, he controls it. He’s just, he’s good.”
Bonnett’s quarterback, junior Logan Gilman, was just as good at times, completing 17 of 32 passes for 364 yards — all career highs. Gilman and the PCM passing attack provided several big plays, including a pair of fourth-down conversions in the third quarter that kept the Mustangs afloat and three touchdown passes of 45 yards or more.
“I think we did some good things,” Bonnett said. “We put 30 points on the board. We held them to 24 after the (first quarter). That’s a good offense and they’re a good defense, so we’re going to be alright. We’re still young, so we’ll get better.”