PELLA — The Prairie City-Monroe offense came into Friday night’s football game with Roland-Story averaging more than 30 points in its first two games.
But the defense has been the biggest story for the Mustangs.
PCM’s defense scored two touchdowns in the win over Class 3A Newton in Week 1 and had given up only 16 points in the first two games. That unit played even better against the Norse.
The Class 2A No. 2 Mustangs’ first-team defense forced three turnovers, collected three sacks and scored another TD in PCM’s 54-14 triumph at Pella High School on Friday.
“I think we were firing on all cylinders tonight,” PCM coach Greg Bonnett said. “This was our most complete game of the season to date. I am very happy with the way the guys performed. I can’t wait to watch the film because I think I am going to see some really great things.”
The game was scheduled to be PCM’s home opener, but for the second time this season, it got moved away from the Mustangs’ home field. The game was played in Pella because of poor field conditions in Monroe.
The change of scenery did not faze the Mustangs. They are now 3-0 on the season and have not played a game at home yet.
PCM started the game with the ball. It needed six plays to go 66 yards. The drive started with a little bit of trickery.
Senior quarterback Reed Worth took the snap then pitched it to senior Jarron Trausch. Trausch then completed a 39-yard pass to senior Brayton Van Dyke, who also had a 12-yard reception from Worth later in the drive.
Senior Wes Cummings took care of the rest as he gained 14 yards on three carries and capped the drive with a 7-yard TD run.
After PCM’s defense forced a three and out, the offense went back to work. This time, the Mustangs went 75 yards in three plays.
Worth and Cummings started the drive with runs of seven and eight yards, respectively.
Van Dyke then hauled in a pass from Worth and sprinted to paydirt for a 60-yard TD.
“We came out really strong, and we haven’t done that yet this year really,” said Van Dyke, who had three catches for 111 yards in the win. “We are definitely improving and are playing well on both sides of the ball.”
The lead quickly grew to 20-0. The defense forced a fumble that was recovered by senior Andrew Van Ryswyk in Roland-Story territory.
Cummings scored his second TD of the game when he took it in from 10 yards out. The only other play on the drive was a 13-yard run from Cummings, who finished with 82 yards on 16 carries.
A 10-yard penalty on the kickoff forced R-S (1-2) to start its next drive at their own 17-yard line. Another three and out forced a punt.
The Mustangs started their next drive on their own 32. Their longest drive of the game took 10 plays. A pass interference call on third and nine kept the drive going and Cummings picked up 21 yards to get another first down.
Worth was 4-for-4 on the drive. He connected with senior Preston Van Wyk for 26 yards, and then plunged in from a yard out on the next play to make it 28-0 with 1:02 to play in the first quarter.
The Mustangs out-gained Roland-Story 361-54 in the first half. PCM held the Norse offense to just one first down.
“It was a very balanced attack, and we had several guys step up and make plays,” Bonnett said. “Our snaps were better. And I am convinced that most of the offense starts with the snap. It helps with the timing of our offense.”
Stuck in a big hole, Roland-Story went for it on fourth down on its next possession.
On fourth down and three from its own 32-yard line, PCM junior Jace Smith ended the drive with a sack of R-S quarterback Drake Day.
One play later, Worth made it 34-0 with a 30-yard touchdown pass to Van Wyk. Van Wyk finished with 56 yards on two catches.
The PCM defense went back to work on the Norse’s next possession. Roland-Story senior running back Ben Chelsvig got the only first down of the half with a 24-yard run, but on third and five, the Mustangs ended the drive with another turnover.
This time, senior Payton Strovers brought in a Day pass that was deflected by senior Brycen Rogers. Strovers caught the deflection and sprinted 63 yards for a defensive TD. That made it 40-0 with 9:07 to go in the first half.
Rogers came into the week leading the Mustangs in tackles. He said the key to his team’s defense is focus.
“The main key is staying focused,” Rogers said. “And before the ball is snapped, pause for a second, gather yourself and just be present in the moment. When you’re present in the moment, you can see everything happen before it happens.”
Another turnover gave the ball right back to PCM. Van Wyk recorded his second interception of the season when he jumped in front of a R-S receiver to pick off a deep pass from Day.
Cummings picked up nine yards on the ground before getting 13 more on a screen pass from Worth. Trausch scored on the next play when he took a handoff to the outside and jetted down the sideline for a 45-yard TD.
After another three and out from R-S that included a sack from Van Dyke, PCM made it 54-0 when Cummings scored his third TD of the half.
The drive was six plays and 66 yards in all. Worth had a 34-yard run on the drive, and the Mustangs were helped by a 15-yard personal foul penalty. The Norse had three 15-yard penalties on the night.
Worth was 9-for-9 in the first half. He threw for 160 yards and two scores in the win. Trausch’s pass completion for 39 yards to Van Dyke helped the Mustangs go 10-for-10 through the air in the first half.
No offensive starters played in the second half. The only defensive starters who played in the final two quarters was the defensive line and they were out there for only one series.
The Norse scored twice against PCM’s second-team defense with a running clock in the second half.
Chelsvig came into the game with 261 rushing yards. He finished with 100 yards and two scores on 20 carries, but only gained 30 yards on nine carries against PCM’s first-team defense.
“Our guys prepare well. They know what they are looking at when they watch film,” Bonnett said. “The coaches come up with good gameplans in each position group to make it easier on them, but our guys are learning how to play focused football.”
PCM’s backups got a lot of snaps in the second half.
Sophomore Connor Bennett gained 37 yards on seven carries for the offense, while sophomore backup quarterback Sage Burns was 3-for-6 for 21 yards. His best play was a completion to junior Dane Owens for 21 yards.
Defensively, sophomore backup linebacker Colby Tool finished with a team-high eight tackles. Van Dyke had with four tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. Senior Cole Dustin tallied 4 1/2 tackles. Van Ryswyk and Smith both had sacks.
The Mustang defense held Roland-Story to 160 total yards.
“I do think Roland-Story is a good team,” Bonnett said. “But there’s no doubt about it. We got after them good tonight. I think our team wanted this one. The guys wanted to prove they could do something like this to a good team.”
As good as PCM has been in the first three weeks, Van Dyke still thinks the Mustangs can get better.
“We have a lot to look forward to and a lot to improve on still. It should be a lot of fun,” Van Dyke said.
Another big test awaits the Mustangs next week. PCM plays 1A No. 10 Pella Christian at 7 p.m. Friday in Pella. The Eagles dropped 1A No. 6 Iowa City Regina, 24-21, in their Week 2 game.
Roland-Story 0-0-7-7 — 14
PCM 28-26-0-0 — 54
PCM — Wes Cummings 7 run (kick blocked)
PCM — Brayton Van Dyke 60 pass from Reed Worth (run failed)
PCM — Cummings 10 run (Worth run)
PCM — Worth 1 run (Worth pass to Van Dyke)
PCM — Preston Van Wyk 30 pass from Worth (kick failed)
PCM — Payton Strovers 63 interception return (kick failed)
PCM — Jarron Trausch 45 run (Andrew Mitchell kick)
PCM — Cummings 5 run (Mitchell kick)
Roland-Story — Ben Chelsvig 1 run (Nick Stole kick)
Roland-Story — Chelsvig 2 run (Stole kick)