5 OT heartbreak
PARSONS — Leading 22-6 over Parsons with less than 8 minutes remaining, the Iola Mustangs saw their 16-point lead deteriorate.
The Vikings stormed back to force overtime, and eventually win 54-48 in 5 OT’s.
Iola dominated in the early stages, but had nothing to show until 9:43 left in the second quarter. Senior Casen Barker opened the scoring for Iola with his first rushing touchdown of the season. Senior Zane Whitney provided the Iola offense with big play ability, the senior accumulated 108 yards rushing off 8 carries in the first half.
Iola added on to its lead later in the second. Junior Isaac Badders’s rushing touchdown gave Iola the 13-0 lead, but the Vikings pulled within six before the end of the half.
The Mustang offense was the beneficiary of good fortune when Parsons was backed up to its own en dzone, and the snap flew over the quarterback Ethan Houk’s head. The Vinking QB had no other option than to dive on the football, resulting in a safety and making the Iola lead 15-6.
Heading into the fourth quarter, head coach David Daugharthy made a change at quarterback. Casen came in to relieve junior Bradyn Cole, who was forced to leave with a left wrist injury. Casen led the Mustangs down the field, and handed off to little brother Holden Barker for the Mustang touchdown. Iola’s lead increased to 22-6.
But despite Iola’s dominating the game through three quarters, the Vikings still had time to answer.
Parsons connected on two big passing touchdowns as the Iola offense was unable to put the game to bed. A tied game after four quarters meant overtime was on the cards.
“Busted coverage and missing tackles is what hurt us defensively,” Daugharthy said. “Offensively, Bradyn going down hurt us. Don’t get me wrong though, I thought Casen did a good job, but our whole offense was built around the idea of having Bradyn.”
Iola started on offense, and Barker handed off to sophomore Trent Jones for the score to hand Iola the lead. After a failed PAT, the Mustangs were forced to reply on defense. Parsons tied the game at 28-28, and with the game on the line, Whitney shot through like a bullet out of a gun to block the PAT to force a second overtime.
After a Viking score and successful 2-point conversion, Iola’s back was pressed against the wall. Matters were made worse when Whitney was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that backed the Mustangs to the 25-yard line. Facing third-and-goal, Barker’s pass to the front pylon of the endzone was hauled in over two defenders by junior Drake Sellman, who miraculously dragged his toe to stay in the field of play. Iola converted the 2-point conversion, to tie the score at 36-36.
The Mustangs quickly added to their lead in the games third OT. Holden earned his second touchdown of the day, but the 2-point conversion failed as the Mustangs led 42-36. Parsons responded once more, but like Iola, failed to convert the 2-point conversion, leading to a fourth OT.
Parsons gained the lead to start the fourth overtime, but once again failed for the 2-point conversion. Iola responded with Casen punching his way in on the quarterback keeper, but the Mustangs were unable to break the deadlock, which meant another OT with the score tied at 48-48.
The Mustangs turned the ball over, after Casen was stripped for his second fumble on the day. Finally, this ball game was over after Parsons sealed the deal 54-48, in what might be the state’s high school football game of the year.
“I know there’s going to be one kid on there saying it is my fault, but at the end of the day its the team’s fault,” Daugharthy said. “We have to pick each other up, and I think we struggled with that at times tonight.”
Casen led the Mustangs on the ground with 28 carries for 129 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns. Badders finished with 7 carries for 54 yards rushing and a score. Sellman was the Mustang’s leading receiver with 2 receptions for 27 yards receiving and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Mustangs were led by Casen with eight tackles and junior Logan Brown who recorded 6 total tackles. Iola’s defense also recorded three interceptions courtesy of two from Badders, and one from junior Landon Carson. Carson also left the game early in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.
The Mustangs will look to put this barnburner in the back seat as they host Wellsville at home next Friday.