No matter what analogy one might use--the bully tormenting the "new kid", a hurricane smashing everything in its path, the irresistible force crushing the immovable object--the outcome of last night's ACGC versus Van Meter football game certainly was not what Charger players, coaches, and fans had hoped for. The 42-8 shellacking that the Bulldogs put on the Chargers was not what any of us expected, or at least not what this writer expected. With both teams coming into the game with 4-0 records and with both teams handily defeating all of their opponents, I'm sure this observer was not the only one who thought the Chargers were up to the task and would, at the least, give the Bulldogs a run for their money.
Full of hope and optimism I was taken aback when I read Cody Goodwin's sports column in the Des Moines Register yesterday. Each week Goodwin predicts the outcome of five or six big games around the state. Yesterday the ACGC vs. Van Meter game was one of those games. Goodwin predicted that Van Mater would win by a 35-7 score (he was pretty close on that). His comment was that the game should be a "workmanlike outing for Anthony Pothoff (Van Meter quarterback) and company." It surprised me that he thought the Bulldogs would handle our Chargers so easily.
The Chargers knew they were facing a formidable opponent in the third ranked Bulldogs. Over the last ten years Van Meter has a record of 93-23, has qualified for the payoffs every one of those ten years, won a state championship two years ago, and is 51-4 over the last four plus years. So maybe we shouldn't be surprised at the outcome. But still...
There was a surge of optimism early in the game when the Chargers took the opening kickoff and began moving the ball upfield. With Gavin Cornelison getting most of the carries and with quarterback Bryce Littler's fifteen yard run the Chargers reached midfield before the Bulldogs recovered an ACGC fumble at the midfield stripe. On the first Van Meter play from scrimmage senior running back Ian Abrahamson scampered fifty yards for a touchdown and the Bulldogs were on their way.
When the Chargers had to punt the ball away on their next possession, Van Meter drove fifty two yards in six plays for its second score. The quarter ended with the home team leading 14-0.
The second quarter decided the outcome, as the Chargers struggled to move the ball with any consistency and the Bulldogs scored on all three of its possessions. Pothoff connected with Chris Schreck on a 49 yard TD pass, scored himself on an 8 yard run after a blocked Charger punt, and engineered a seventy five yard scoring drive in which Abrahamson scored on an 11 yard run. At halftime the Bulldogs led by a 35-0 score.
Van Meter completed its scoring in the third quarter when it scored on an ten play, fifty five yard drive with Pothoff throwing his second touchdown pass of the night. The Chargers had only one possession in the quarter, picking up one first down, but the drive stalled after a penalty and an incomplete pass, and ACGC was forced to punt the ball away.
The final quarter opened with the Bulldogs moving the ball into Charger territory before Lucas Marsh recovered a bad snap from center and returned it to the Van Meter 39 yard line. With Cornelison picking up seventeen yards on an off tackle play, pay dirt was fifteen yards away. As the yards became harder to pick up, the Chargers were faced with a fourth down and five yards to go on the Bulldog ten yard line. The Chargers may have surprised everyone with a pass play from Littler to Lucas Marsh to pick up the first down at the two yard line. Littler then scored the TD on a quarterback sneak and the Chargers were on the board. A two point conversion made the score 42-8. Each team had one more possession, but neither was able to move the ball.
This loss may be a difficult pill to swallow, but one game does not a season make. There are winnable games remaining on the schedule. This is not a Charger team that will give up on itself. Although ACGC may be the "new kid" in terms of its recent success, its a kid that's not going away anytime in the foreseeable future. There will be another day, another win, and more after that. Go Chargers!
Next week is Homecoming!! The Chargers will host Clarinda in the annual fall event. Game time is 7 PM. Go Chargers!
Score by quarter:
ACGC 0 0 0 8---8
VM 14 21 7 0--42
Passing: Bryce Littler: 3 attempts, 1 completion for 9 yards
Rushing: Gavin Cornelison: 17 attempts, 71 yards, 0 touchdowns; Charlie Crawford: (2-2-0)
Kolby Jacobe: (9-35-0); Gunnar Larsen: (2-2-0); Brock Littler: (1-4-0); Bryce Littler: (7-23-1);
Reid Rumelhart: (2- -1-0)
Receiving: Lucas Marsh: 1 reception for 9 yards
Scoring: Gunnar Larsen: 2 points (conversion); Bryce Littler: 6 points (touchdown)
Tackles: Gage Buttler: 1 solo, 3 assists; Gavin Cornelison: 0-2; Charlie Crawford: 0-2;
Seth Danker: 1-0; Victor Gonzalez: 0-1; Cael Hoing: 1-1; Kolby Jacobe: 1-4; Cayden Jensen:
0-2; Gunnar Larsen: 1-1; Bryce Littler: 3-4; Sam Madsen, 0-2; Lucas Marsh, 0-2; Reid Rumelhart: 0-1; Noah Wheatley: 2-6; Quentin Younker: 1-2
Fumble Recoveries: Lucas Marsh: 1 for 50 yards
Kickoffs: Charlie Crawford: 2 for 27.5 yard average
Punting: Colby Jacobe: 3 for 27.3 yard average
Kickoff Returns: Charlie Crawford: 4 for average of 19.3; Cayden Jensen: (2-13.5)