MONROE — Prairie City-Monroe junior Wes Cummings wasn’t feeling the best during school Friday.
But when the lights came on later that night, Cummings showed why he’s a returning all-state player.
Cummings broke off two long touchdown runs to break open a close game early, and the Mustangs routed Centerville, 74-14, in their home opener.
Cummings rushed for 155 yards and two scores on eight carries in the first half and totaled 161 yards in the game after seeing minimal snaps in the second half.
“After I hit the front line, all I saw was green grass,” Cummings said. “I honestly wondered when the runs were going to be over. I was tired after being sick at school all day. I came out here and overcame some adversity for my teammates. I just didn’t want to miss this game.”
Cummings helped PCM pull away from an 8-7 lead with touchdown runs of 51 and 78 yards in the first quarter.
Junior receiver Preston Van Wyk also had a big night for PCM. Van Wyk put the Mustangs on the board with a 46-yard touchdown catch from junior Reed Worth on third and 17.
Van Wyk hauled in touchdown catches of 55 and 35 yards in the third quarter and finished with 189 yards and three scores on five catches on the night.
“There are a lot of plays that coach (Colin) Harrison gives me that are basically just go routes,” Van Wyk said. “I just try to run faster than the guy covering me. Everyone has special plays. We have lots of tricks in our bag, and so far they are working.”
The Mustangs led 40-14 at halftime, and the 74 points scored in the game were the most by the program in more than a decade.
PCM scored 73 against Clarke last year and has now won 10 straight district games dating back to the regular season finale in 2015.
Mustang head coach Greg Bonnett felt bad after the game for scoring so many points.
PCM’s final two touchdowns, though, were scored by backups, and the Mustangs attempted only six passes in the second half.
“We don’t get any curtain-raiser games. We try to put our JV guys in as much as we can,” Bonnett said. “The problem is a lot of our backups are good, too. I don’t ever want to run the score up on anyone, but I can’t help that they fumbled on the 2 yard line. I can’t help that our backup RB (Olin Meinders) had a 40-yard run. Some of it I just can’t help.”
PCM’s offense finished with 268 rushing yards, and 282 passing yards.
Worth finished 12-of-20 through the air for 257 yards and four touchdowns. Freshman backup Sage Burns completed his only pass for a 25-yard touchdown to senior Chase Sanders in the fourth quarter, and Burns also had a 10-yard TD run.
PCM’s defense got off to a slow start, and one of the few negatives in the win was the ejection of junior Brycen Rogers, who was flagged and disqualified for “launching himself at a defenseless receiver. By rule, Rogers will miss Friday’s game against Central Lee, too.
“It wasn’t helmet-to-helmet or a dirty play, and I thought that’s what they called at first,” Bonnett said. “They told me they ejected him for launching at a defenseless receiver. It’s a judgment call. I have seen a ton of hits like that that haven’t been called. To say he launched at him, that’s their call. I can’t make that call for them.”
The PCM defense was gashed for two big pass plays on Centerville’s first scoring drive. Freshman Brady Kauzlarich hit McCain Oden for a 48-yard completion, and then Kauzlarich hooked up with Taylor McGrain for a 22-yard TD to cut the Mustangs’ lead to 8-7.
Centerville’s (1-3, 1-1) other TD came on a 10-yard run by Kauzlarich with 53 seconds to go in the half.
“We started out in a three front, and they exposed it early a little bit,” Bonnett said. “I expected them to hit seams and curls, but they hit routes in the flat, which forced us to get out of our gameplan and go back to a four-front defense. That’s what we did, and that’s what we want to do anyway. We were OK once we made that switch.”
Cummings didn’t like how his team started against Centerville on Friday or against Albia a week earlier.
“We just have to execute. We need to flow to the ball a little better defensively,” Cummings said. “We’ve had some slow starts the last two games. We need to pick it sooner, especially as we get closer to the playoffs.”
The Mustangs are yet to be challenged in 2A District 6 play since the start of last season. PCM is outscoring district foes 506-42 in those nine games.
PCM, playing in front of its home fans for the first time this season because of the Montezuma forfeit, didn’t take long to score most of its touchdowns.
Van Wyk’s TD catch from Worth came on the third play of the Mustangs’ first drive that began after PCM recovered on an onside kick on the opening kickoff.
Cummings’ 51-yard TD run was the first play of PCM’s third drive. He also had a 36-yard run on the second drive that ended in a turnover on downs.
Cummings’ 78-yard scoring run was the fourth play of the fourth drive and came after Van Wyk hauled in a 20-yard catch on third and long.
Centerville lost its first fumble on bad hand off on the first play of the Big Reds’ next drive. After a false start penalty, PCM scored in one play when Worth hit junior Jarron Trausch for a 36-yard touchdown strike.
PCM’s next drive started on the Centerville 30-yard line. Senior Noah Anderson began the drive with an 11-yard run, and Worth ended the drive on the third play with a 14-yard touchdown run.
The final drive of the first half covered four plays and 25 yards and it ended on a 1-yard touchdown run by Anderson.
The longest drive of the game came on PCM’s first possession of the second half. The Mustangs marched 90 yards in eight plays. Van Wyk got loose again on a go route, and he sprinted past the defense for a 55-yard touchdown.
“I have tried to tell anyone who would listen that Preston Van Wyk is an explosive player,” Bonnett said. “He has the speed, and is getting more physical now, too. If he puts both of those together watch out.”
Van Wyk’s third touchdown came on a three-play, 26-yard drive. After a bad snap that resulted in negative yards, Worth hit Van Wyk for a 35-yard score.
The touchdown was set up by an Ivan Young interception. Centerville fumbled the ball on its next possession and gave the ball to PCM on the 1-yard line.
Cummings needed one play to score a third touchdown on a night when Bonnett wasn’t sure his star tailback would even play.
“Wesley wasn’t feeling the best today. I was worried about him,” Bonnett said. “Our PE teacher Mrs. (Tara) Williams gave him some Sprite, and I guess that did the trick. He made some great runs off some great blocking.”
The PCM defense forced five turnovers and held Centerville to 26 rushing yards and 225 total yards.
Junior Cole Dustin had a team-high 3 1/2 tackles, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery to lead the way. Juniors Marshall Smith and Brayton Van Dyke each had a fumble recovery.
The Mustangs stay home this week to face Central Lee for Senior Night at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Monroe.
PCM - Preston Van Wyk 46 pass from Reed Worth (Worth pass to Dayton Boell)
Centerville - Taylor McGrain 22 pass from Brady Kauzlarich (Trent McCann kick)
PCM - Wes Cummings 51 run (2-point attempt missed)
PCM - Cummings 78 run (kick missed)
PCM - Jarron Trausch 36 pass from Worth (2-point attempt missed)
PCM - Worth 14 run (Brady Fagen kick)
PCM - Noah Anderson 1 run (Fagen kick)
Centerville - Kauzlarich 10 run (McCann kick)
PCM - Van Wyk 55 pass from Worth (Fagen kick)
PCM - Van Wyk 35 pass from Worth (Fagen kick)
PCM - Cummings 1 run (Fagen kick)
PCM - Chase Sanders 25 pass from Sage Burns (kick missed)
PCM - Burns 10 run (Fagen kick)