OSAWATOMIE — It was a case of one step forward, two steps back early on for Iola High’s Mustangs.
Every positive play seemingly led to an exasperating one.
“It was probably the most frustrating half of football I’ve ever coached,” Iola head coach David Daugharthy said, counting up the penalties, turnovers and dropped passes that thwarted at least three other scoring chances in the first two quarters.
So despite dominating on both sides of the ball, the Mustangs nursed a slim 6-0 lead at halftime.
A few tweaks in Iola’s blocking scheme, plus the ability to cut down on penalties and hold onto the ball, proved to be just the elixir the Mustangs needed.
Iola turned the game on its ear early in the second half, erupting for 28 points after the break in a 34-0 season-opening victory over Osawatomie.
“That’s what’s exciting,” Daugharthy said. “We had a pretty poor offense in the first half, and even in the second half we made some mistakes, where we were in the red zone and should have scored, but we still hung 34. That’s a huge tribute to the way the defense played.”
Iola limited Osawatomie to 144 yards of total offense, and rarely let the Trojans get on the Mustang side of the field.
The first such occasion came after an Iola mistake on the game’s first play.
A fumbled handoff gave the Trojans the ball at the Mustang 32.
But the defense held Osawatomie without a first down, forcing three straight incomplete passes, the last one on fourth and 13.
Kole Rogers set up the Mustangs’ first score on Osawatomie’s next possession with an interception deep in Trojan territory.
Cole took full advantage, finding receiver Karson Sigg down the left sideline on the game’s next play for a nifty 27-yard touchdown pass.
“You could tell (Bradyn) was a little bit nervous,” Daugharthy said. “There were reads he typically makes in practice, but he was going way too fast. He had guys wide open, and then he did make the right read, the receivers dropped the ball, and it led to some frustration.”
The lead stood at six for the balance of the half until an Osawatomie mistake opened the third quarter.
A fumble on its first snap of the third quarter led to a six-play, 50-yard drive for the Mustangs, capped by Trent Jones’s 1-yard scoring plunge.
The Trojans went 3-and-out on their next possession, which led to a 24-yard touchdown reception by Iola’s Brett Willis.
Suddenly the rout was on.
Cole found Sam Fager on a 20-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to push Iola’s margin to 28-0.
Cole then capped the Mustangs’ next possession with a 7-yard touchdown run for the final tally.
It was sweet redemption for Cole, who was injured in Iola’s season-opener a year ago, and missed the rest of the year.” Daugharthy credited Iola’s offensive line for freeing up runners and giving Cole time to pass. Jones proved to be Iola’s workhorse, rushing 24 times for 160 yards and a score.
Cole was 17 of 37 passing for 204 yards and three touchdowns, and he spread the ball around effusively, connecting with eight Mustang receivers on the night.
Sigg had 54 yards on three receptions. Fager had 52 yards on two catches.
Cole also had 35 yards on seven carries, while Hutton had 30 yards on six totes.
Likewise, the Mustang defensive line was able to effectively neuter Osawatomie’s ground game.
“They were going to try and run the ball,” Daugharthy said. “They broke a couple of good runs, but for the most part we contained them. They were a pretty physical team. They have a couple of really good offensive lineman. To be able to put a shutout on them is a tribute to the defensive preparation, and how aggressive we were.”
Sutter Conrad rushed 15 times for 73 yards to pace Osawatomie.
Isaac Badders keyed Iola’s defense with seven tackles and a fumble recovery. Logan Brown followed with four stops. Dylon Reiter and Austin Rowe chipped in with a sack apiece. Drake Sellman recovered a fumble. Rogers and Fager each had an interception.
Iola plays its home-opener Friday against Parsons, a 42-12 loser to Anderson County.
Iola — Sigg 27 yd pass from Cole (pass failed)
Iola — Jones 1 yd run (Slaven pass from Cole)
Iola — Willis 24 yd pass from Cole (Jones pass from Cole)
Iola — Fager 20 yd pass from Cole (pass failed)
Iola — Cole 7 yd run (pass failed)
Passing — Cole, 17-37-204; Hutton, 2-2-13.
Rushing — Hutton, 5-30; Cole 7-35; Herrmann, 2-10; Jones, 24-160.
Receiving — Taylor 4-25; Badders, 3-30; Fager, 2-52; Sigg, 3-54; Herrmann, 2-11; Slaven, 1-7; Sellman, 3-14.