RICHMOND — Taking what the defense gave them all night, Iola High’s Mustangs utilized the passing game to claim their third Pioneer League in as many games Friday.
The Mustangs built a 27-0 halftime lead over host Central Heights High’s Vikings. They spoiled the Viking homecoming with a resounding 34-6 victory.
Mason Coons connected on six of his first seven passes for the Mustangs. Adam Kauth not only caught pass from Coons, but he also took one away from Central Heights High’s Zach MacAfee.
Kauth snared five passes from Coons for 74 yards. He rushed for a touchdown from 10 yards to put the Mustangs on the scoreboard first, and he caught a nine-yard touchdown strike from Coons.
Those two scores came in the first quarter. Kauth intercepted MacAfee and raced 43 yards to paydirt with 19 seconds left in the first half.
Coons used five different players as he went 13 of 16 for 148 yards passing. Levi Ashmore caught three passes for 36 yards. Ashmore had a catch late for six yards from backup quarterback Tyler McIntosh.
“It was a great team win for us,” said Doug Kerr, Mustang head coach.
“We executed the passing game and showed our growth as a football program. We’re not one dimensional and when teams game plan to stop what you do best we have to have another plan that is just as good.”
Kerr said the Mustangs had two weeks to build up the passing game. He said the receivers caught the ball and had a lot of yards after catch.
“Mason threw the ball well and we had good blocking downfield to spring us for some big yards. I’m proud of the kids.”
The Mustangs improved to 4-1 on the season. They are 3-0 in Pioneer League and go back on the road next Friday to Wellsville.
The teams exchanged punts to open the game but Iola won the field position battle. On their second drive of the game, the Mustangs began at the Central Heights’ 43-yard line.
A 15-yard pass to Ashmore put the Mustangs on the go then Coons found Kauth for nine yards. Kauth took the handoff next and scored on a 10-yard run.
Isaias Macias kicked the extra point to put Iola up 7-0.
Iola’s defense forced another three-and-out by the Vikings. A 15-yard penalty for a late hit on Central Heights helped the Mustang cause on the next scoring drive.
The Mustangs used runs by John Whitworth, who was Iola’s leading rusher of the night with 30 yards on four carries, and Jacob Rhoads. That set up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Coons to Kauth at the 3:11 mark of the first quarter.
The extra-point kick was wide but the Mustangs led 13-0.
A 15-yard penalty against Iola for a late hit on the kickoff put the Vikings at the Iola 42-yard line. Behind the running of Drew Beckwith, who had 89 yards on 27 carries in the game, the Vikings moved down the field.
A couple of penalties set them back. Central Heights was one dimensional. MacAfee’s only completions of the night were to the wrong team. Rhodes picked off a Viking pass and returned it to the Iola 29-yard line.
Using the passing game, Iola moved down the field. The big play of the drive was a 51-yard pass play from Coons to Kauth. Coons capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown run. With the extra point, Iola led 20-0.
Not much happened until late in the second quarter. Central Heights went to the air again.
This time Kauth picked off MacAfee’s pass and raced 43 yards for the touchdown. Macias kicked the extra point for a 27-0 lead with 19 seconds on the clock.
“We showed tonight that teams have to chose — do you want to stop our run or stop our passing,” Kerr said. “Were we great tonight? No, but we were good.
“The most thing I’m proud about is we finished the second half. We didn’t allow them back in the game and that rolls into defensively, we played a great game. I think the kids understood the concept we wanted.”
Kerr said Central Heights got its yardage on the ground — 174 yards on 44 carries. But the Mustang defense bent and didn’t break.
It was a scoreless third quarter. Iola took over the football with just over two minutes left in the period and scored two plays into the fourth quarter.
Coons found Jacob Harrison in the corner of the end zone on a 15-yard pass play. It was 34-0 at the 11:14 mark of the fourth quarter.
The Mustang defense forced yet another three and out for the Vikings. But McIntosh muffed the Viking punt and Dakota Snow recorded the football for Central Heights.
The Vikings used a 10-play drive to score their touchdown. Beckwith scored from two yards out with 4:30 left in the game.
“They had to work for all those yards. Our defense gives up yards but you’re going to earn points and they earned those six,” Kerr said.
Kerr used his reserves following the Viking score. The Mustangs held onto the football for the final 4:30 taking a knee near the Viking 10-yard line to run out the final seconds.
Kerr pointed that Iola’s special teams play was the best it had been all season. Coons punted for the Mustangs — three for 111 yards total which is a 37-yard average.
Tyler Clubine stepped in as center. “We didn’t have one bad snap tonight. Isaias did a good job kicking the ball for us,” Kerr said.
Defensively, Bryce Misenhelter racked of eight unassisted tackles for the Mustangs. Whitworth had four solos and seven assisted.
Stephen McDonald recorded four solo stops and five assisted tackles. Eric Heffern had four solos and one assisted tackle. Rhoads had two solo tackles and seven assisted tackles.
Iola was without the services of sophomore lineman Trey Colborn for the third straight game. Colborn is still sidelined by an ankle injury.
Central Heights 0-0-0-6—6
Iola — Kauth 10 yd run (Macias kick)
Iola — Kauth 9 yd pass from Coons (kick failed)
Iola — Coons 6 yd run (Macias kick)
Iola — Kauth 43 yd interception return (Macias kick)
Iola — Harrison 15 yd pass from Coons (Macias kick)
CH — Beckwith 2 yd un (PAT failed)
First Downs 12 11
Rushes-yds 26-125 44-174
Passing yds 154 0
Total Offense 279 174
Passing 14-17-0 0-6-2
Fumbles/lost 0/0 0/0
Punts 3-37 4-35.5
Penalties 4-45 6-60
Rushing: Iola-Whitworth 4-30, Kauth 3-12, Rhoads 6-16, McIntosh 3-13, Macha 1-8, Coons 4-10, McDonald 1-4, Aiello 1-20, Badders 2-2, Ashmore 1-11. Central Heights-Beckwith 27-89, T. Davis 10-67, MacAfee 4-13, Shrimpton 3-5.
Passing: Iola-Coons 13-16-148-0, McIntosh 1-1-6-0. Central Heights-MacAfee 0-6-0-2.
Receiving: Iola-Kauth 5-74, Ashmore 4-42, Harrison 2-25, Rhoads 2-5, Larney 1-8. Central Heights-none.
Punting: Iola-Coons 3-111 (37 yd avg.). Central Heights-T. Davis 4-141 (35.5 yd avg.)