Two area high school football teams entered the first round of Iowa high school playoffs on a very cold Friday night. Lynnville-Sully will play on in Class A while Prairie City-Monroe’s season came to an end in Class 2A.
Class A No. 8 Lynnville-Sully 28, New London 0
SULLY — Frigid weather with a stiff wind out of the northeast did not faze Lynnville-Sully’s Hawks on Friday night. They were on a mission at home against New London’s Tigers in the first round of the Class A football playoffs.
Senior running back Sage Zylstra and the offensive unit set the tone on the first play from scrimmage. With his teammates blocking, Zylstra found a hole, made a cut and was gone. He dashed 60 yards for the touchdown. Senior Brevin Hansen kicked the extra point.
The eighth-ranked Hawks led 7-0 with 11:44 left in the first quarter. They pitched a shutout of the Tigers, winning 28-0.
“We focused on the game and not the weather. It’s football weather. It’s fall, who cares what the weather is like. We had a game plan and followed it,” senior defensive back Carson Dunsbergen said. “Our defense was locked down. We had a defensive game plan, followed it and look what happened — a shutout.”
The Hawk defense was focused on not allowing big plays by the Tigers, especially from junior quarterback Isaac McSorley and junior running back Keontae Luckett.
Mission accomplished. Luckett was held to 19 yards on seven carries and 20 yards on three catches. McSorley completed 9-of-26 passes for 87 yards. The Hawk defense gave up just 57 yards rushing and 87 yards passing in the game.
Lynnville-Sully had the big plays on offense. Zylstra’s TD run then two big pass plays in the third quarter. The Hawks had a 10-play, 67-yard TD drive late in the first quarter capped with a one-yard quarterback sneak by senior Elijah Collins.
The Hawks were up 14-0 at halftime. They had three drives deep into Tiger territory in the second period, but came up empty.
“It was tough going into the wind,” Collins said. “Coach (Mike Parkinson) figured out some weaknesses in their defense and we used those plays in the second half.”
Two third-quarter passes plays went for touchdowns. Collins found junior Tyson Vander Linden over the middle in stride for scoring passes of 41 yards and 46 yards in the third quarter. Hansen added the two extra points to finish the scoring, 28-0, with 1:41 left in the period.
New London was turned away from the final time on a fourth-and-nine at the Lynnville-Sully 11-yard line with 5:03 left in the game. Luckett attempted a half-back pass under pressure from the Hawks and the pass was tipped away by Vander Linder in the end zone.
The Hawk ground game took over and powered the offense to mid-field as time ticked off.
“We haven’t really had a game where we grind it out like that but man, our offensive line did such a great job tonight. Our backs ran hard,” Hawk head coach Mike Parkinson said after the game. “It was cold and windy, we just figured we’d run the ball and see what happens.”
Zylstra finished with 146 yards on 24 carries and junior Even Squires had 105 yards on 20 carries. Collins was 5-of-10 for 113 yards. Vander Linden had two catches for 87 yards.
Defensively, senior defensive lineman Kemper Lukehart racked up nine tackles and had a quarterback sack. Zylstra and senior defensive back Drake Ehresman had five tackles. Ehresman and junior defensive lineman Grant Wehrle each had a fumble recovery.
With the win, the Hawks (9-0) move to the second round of Class A playoffs. They will play at Hudson (10-0) at 7 p.m. next Friday. Hudson beat Pekin 35-0 on Friday night in its first-round contest.
Class 2A No. 9 Williamsburg 18, No. 4 PCM 17
MONROE — Prairie City-Monroe's football team was doing everything right during the early stages of its first-round playoff game with Williamsburg on Friday night.
The Mustangs scored on their first two possessions and the defense forced a turnover and a turnover on downs. Then three straight mistakes by the home team allowed the Raiders to stay close, and Williamsburg took advantage in the end.
The Class 2A No. 9 Raiders scored 12 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to rally past the fourth-ranked Mustangs, 18-17.
PCM turned it over four times in the game and senior Brady Fagen missed a 24-yard field goal that would have give the Mustangs a lead late in the fourth quarter.
"You can't turn the ball over and expect to win these kind of games unless you truly outmatch your opponent. And we knew coming in that that wasn't going to be the case," PCM coach Greg Bonnett said. "We made critical mistakes that were unsurmountable at the end."
PCM out-gained Williamsburg 403-282 in total yards, but the Raiders turned it over only once in the postseason win.
Williamsburg got 178 rushing yards on 25 carries from 2A's leading rusher Gage Hazen-Fabor, and it was his 47-yard touchdown run with 8:49 to play in the game that proved to be the difference.
PCM junior Wes Cummings gained 172 yards on 23 carries, and senior Noah Anderson rushed for 99 yards on 10 carries, but the Mustangs lost three fumbles and junior Reed Worth threw an interception. Worth finished 7-of-13 through the air for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
"To hold Williamsburg to 18 points when you turn it over four times is pretty remarkable," Bonnett said. "The defense played great. The offense had their moments, but the mistakes just got us."
Hazen-Fabor's late TD run put the Raiders up 18-17 with 8:49 left in the game.
PCM started its final drive at its own 38-yard line. The Mustangs started the drive with a block in the back penalty, but Worth gained 15 on first down and then Cummings picked up the first down with a 16-yard run.
Cummings followed that up with runs of 10 and seven yards, and then Anderson gained 19 more on second down and three. The next three plays resulted in just two yards though.
That forced the Mustangs into a potential game-winning field goal, but Fagen's 24-yard try with less than 5 minutes to play was wide left.
Hazen-Fabor gained 39 yards on the Raiders' final drive to clinch the win. He collected three first downs on seven attempts.
"I did feel good (about that final drive). I thought we were going to drive it down and score. And then I thought Fagen was going to put it through the uprights," Bonnett said. "When he didn't, I still thought our defense could get us the ball back. We fought until the end. There's not a lot of quit in us, but in the end it was that key word of focus that hurt us."
The Mustangs ended their season at 8-2. They captured their second straight district championship earlier in the year and have only lost just four times in two years. PCM graduates a handful of key seniors, but a large junior class returns for one final shot at a state title in 2018.
Williamsburg advances to the 2A quarterfinals where it will face a familiar foe on Friday. The Raiders will play at No. 3 Mount Vernon, a district opponent which defeated them 42-14 in Week 9.
Mount Vernon eliminated Centerville, 42-10, in its first-round game.