The Penguin Publishing Company, provider of many a great mystery novel, considers five elements to be essential in a good mystery. First, there has to be a problem to be solved. That is, what is the mystery about. In the case at hand, the problem is this: How good is the 2019 version of ACGC football? Then, there have to be interesting characters. It's hard to imagine a more interesting bunch of characters than the teen age members of the Charger football team and their coaches. The setting includes the high school football fields of west central Iowa. The plot, or story line, is played out on those gridiron fields. Finally, there is the solution to the mystery, which will be determined by the Chargers' performance on those fields.
After months of team preparation in the weight room and on the practice field, Charger fans, coaches and players all participated in the plot last night at the home field of the IKM-Manning Wolves. The Chargers were facing a team with one of western Iowa's most consistently successful programs. IKM-M has won nearly 70% of its games over the last ten years, with six playoff teams in those ten seasons.
Although the mystery of how good this Charger team is may not have been completely solved, last night's performance has given all of us an important clue in solving the mystery as the Chargers turned in a solid performance in their 32-21 victory over the Wolves. A bruising ground game piled up the yards for the Chargers, with the offensive line opening holes for Gavin Cornelison, Kolby Jacobe, and Charlie Crawford, with Charger fans being treated to a season opening victory.
The Chargers wasted little time in putting points on the board, as they put together a twelve play, sixty nine yard drive to score the first points of the game. With all three running backs carrying the ball on the drive, Jacobe scored on a one yard plunge at the 6:27 mark of the first period. Chargers led 6-0 after the PAT was blocked.
IKM-M wasted even less time in scoring when fleet footed and shifty running back Amos Rasmussen took the ensuing kickoff seventy nine yards to put the Wolves on the board. Rasmussen added the PAT to give the home team a 7-6 advantage.
Following the IKM-M kickoff, ACGC again drove the ball downfield, with a big forty nine yard run by Jacobe putting the ball inside the Wolves' twenty yard line. Cornelison carried the ball in from the sixteen yard line on the next play, giving the lead back to the Chargers. Jacobe's successful PAT run made the score 14-7 with 4:22 left in the quarter.
IKM-M was driving after the Charger kickoff when Charger sophomore Cayden Jensen picked off a Wolves' pass and returned it to midfield where ACGC began another scoring drive. A thirty yard run by Jacobe highlighted the drive and put the ball on the Wolves' seven yard line. A recovered ACGC fumble advanced the ball to the five when the first quarter came to an end with the visitors leading, 14-7. After a two yard pickup, Jacobe plunged three yards for the Chargers third TD of the game. An incomplete pass on the PAT left the score at 20-7, ACGC.
A thirty three yard return by Rasmussen on the kickoff put the line of scrimmage in Charger territory at the forty seven yard line. With Rasmussen picking up most of the yardage, IKM-M drove to the Charger eight yard line for a first and goal. A fumbled snap resulted in a loss back to the seventeen yard line. The Charger defense stiffened at that point, stopping a rushing play and two pass plays to give the ball back to ACGC.
The Chargers took advantage of the opportunity and drove eighty three yards for its fourth score with just twenty six seconds remaining until the halftime break. Cornelison and Jacobe did most of the damage, with Jacobe hitting pay dirt from the three yard line. The PAT attempt failed, but the Chargers held a solid 26-7 halftime lead. As the first half ended, Charger fans showed their approval and appreciation with a huge standing ovation. The players seemed as excited as the fans!
After the intermission, the Wolves showed that they weren't going to just roll over as they drove sixty one yards in eight plays with, you guessed it, Rasmussen covering the last thirty four yards to the end zone. Rasmussen's PAT was good to make the score 26-14.
The Chargers responded in kind with a sixty eight yard touchdown drive of its own. Cornelison carried the ball six times for sixty seven yards, including a four yard plunge to pay dirt. Again the PAT run failed, but the Chargers had increased their lead to 32-14.
IKM-M was forced to punt on its next possession, giving the Chargers the ball on their own thirty yard line. The Black and Gold moved the ball to its own forty two yard line before the third stanza came to a close with ACGC maintaining its eighteen point lead.
The Charger drive sputtered when a fumbled snap resulted in a three yard loss on third down at the Wolves forty five, and ACGC was forced to punt. IKM-M then drove the ball seventy eight yards for a score with 2:23 remaining in the game. Rasmussen's PAT kick was good to make the score 32-21. ACGC then ran out the clock, and once again the Charger faithful showed their appreciation with a loud and long ovation. Victory! And our plot now thickens.
Has the mystery been solved? Are the Chargers for real? This win is certainly a significant clue in solving the mystery. But is it too soon? Do we need more evidence? Perhaps so. But let's take some time to savor the sweet taste of victory and we'll get back to our sleuthing next week.
The Charger ground game netted 421 yards last night with both Cornelison and Jacobe netting more than 170 yards each. It was an impressive performance, not only by the running backs, but by the Charger lineman who opened the holes for their teammates. ACGC did not attempt a pass, but quarterback Bryce Litter engineered the complex wishbone offense with great precision.
Charger mentor Cody Mathewson took little time to savor the win, looking ahead to next week's challenge. "I thought the kids played well. Now its time to clean things up and focus on Woodward Academy."
The home opener is scheduled for next week when ACGC will entertain Woodward Academy in another non-district game, with kickoff scheduled for 7 PM. Go Chargers!
Score by quarters:
ACGC 14 12 6 0--32
IKM-M 7 0 7 7--21
Rushing: Gavin Cornelison: 30 attempts for 196 yards and two touchdowns; Charlie Crawford: (9-54-0); Kolby Jacobe: (17-172-3); Bryce Littler: (5-1-0); Reid Rumelhart: (1-1-0)
Tackles: Gage Burttler: 1 solo, 2 assists; Gavin Cornelison (3-6); Charlie Crawford: (1-0);
Seth Danker: (1-1); Kolby Jacobe: (2-2); Cayden Jensen:(2-2); Gunnar Larsen: (0-1); Bryce Littler: (0-3); Sam Madsen: (0-3); Lucas Marsh: (0-4); Reid Rumelhart: (0-2); Nolan Wheatley: (2-2); Quentin Younker: (0-7)
Interceptions: Cayden Jensen: 1 for 11 yd return
Kickoffs: Charlie Crawford: 6 for average of 30 yds
Punting: Kolby Jacobe: 1 for 31 yards
Kick off returns: Charlie Crawford: 2 for 16 yd average; Cayden Jensen: 1 for 19 yd return
Punt returns: Kolby Jacobe: 1 for 0 yards