The Ottumwa Courier

October 8, 2012

Dowling’s swarming defense overwhelms Bulldogs

Ottumwa Courier

DES MOINES — Seth Griffiths and Alec Maas had nowhere to go.

Every time Ottumwa quarterback Alex Goodvin handed one of them the ball in first half of the Ottumwa football team’s game against formidable Class 4A, Division 3 foe Dowling Catholic Friday at Valley Stadium, he was met by a throng of Maroon defenders.

The Bulldogs’ ineffective run game was one of the defining themes of the first half, and was partly responsible for Ottumwa being down 27-0 at halftime. Ottumwa was unable to escape from the hole it dug itself into in the first half, and ended up falling to No. 6  Dowling (4A) 41-7.

Running yards were rare for the Bulldogs in the first half, primarily because Ottumwa’s offensive line couldn’t push the Maroons’ defensive line off the line of scrimmage; which, consequently, offered Griffiths and Maas no holes to run through.

“We’ve got to coach them better, they have got to be tougher and we have to give a greater effort on the offensive line,” coach Zach Pfantz said.

Ottumwa’s defense was a lot better than the score suggests. Although the Maroon offense did appear unstoppable at times — they gained nearly 300 yards on 56 plays — Dowling had a short field to work with on many of its scoring drives. For example, the Maroons began their first scoring drive on Ottumwa’s 35-yard line. They began their second scoring drive, a drive that ended with a 36-yard field goal by Nick McClellan, at the Bulldogs own 43-yard line. Furthermore, the defense also was constantly on the field because of Ottumwa’s inert offense.

“Overall, I felt like we played pretty good  defense,” Pfantz said. “I was proud of the effort that we gave.”

The Bulldogs did get some solid performances out of a few of their defensive players. Linebacker Chris Peden was all over the field; he finished with a team-leading 10 tackles. In addition, defensive end Logan McCarty recorded eight tackles, defensive end Kyle Lundy had two sacks and strong safety Tyler Johns intercepted a pass for the second consecutive week.

The Maroon offense used a number of receivers, but it was Matthew Haack, Dowling’s No. 1 receiver, who did the most damage. Haack caught six passes for 89 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown was a 26-yard catch that he managed to pull down despite being tightly guarded by cornerback Andrew Altfillisch. His next touchdown was a 16-yard grab with 8:26 left in the third quarter. Haack also scored a touchdown after he recovered a blocked punt that occurred in front of the Bulldog end zone. Since Dowling’s No. 1 quarterback Ryan Boyle was sidelined with an injury, Brandon Mauro and Nick Wilson took turns taking snaps behind center. Both quarterbacks took their team down the field for successful scoring drives.

Ottumwa’s offense didn’t come out of its funk until over halfway through the second quarter. Goodvin faked a hand-off to Griffiths and connected with a wide open Maas, who bolted down the field for what ended up being a 29-yard reception. The play, which occurred with 3:40 left in the first half, was Ottumwa’s sole first down up to that point. Goodvin followed the slick play by firing an excellent pass to Kyle Keck, who made a great catch amid a crowd of Maroon defenders for an 11-yard gain.

Ottumwa’s offensive success, however, was fleeting. Moments later, an untouched Michael Palme sacked Goodvin. The Bulldogs were eventually forced to punt.

On the ensuing Dowling drive, Haack pulled down his 26-yard touchdown, which extended his team’s lead to 26-0. After McClellan booted the extra point, the Maroons’ lead climbed to 27.

Ottumwa turned the ball over on its own 27-yard line on its next possession after a bad quarterback-center exchange between Goodvin and center Joey Lee. Johns prevented Dowling from scoring another touchdown before halftime by intercepting a pass in the end zone with nine seconds remaining in the half.

The Maroons marched down the field for another touchdown in the third quarter. Wilson capped off the drive by hooking up with Haack for a 16-yard touchdown.

Ottumwa decided to gamble on its next drive. The Bulldogs, who were not even at mid-field, elected to go for it on fourth down. The gamble paid off as Goodvin, despite being under tremendous pressure from the Dowling defense, somehow managed to get off a pass to Maas, who made a great grab for a first down. Yet, the play turned out not to be a catalyst for a sustained scoring drive.

Later in the quarter, Goodvin was picked off by Eric Austin, who returned it 36-yards to the Bulldogs’ 7-yard line. Then Nate Christian took the hand-off and ran it right up the middle for a Maroon touchdown. Josh Vedane kicked the extra point and the Maroons led 41-0.

Ottumwa finally got things rolling offensively in the fourth quarter, albeit against a Dowling defense mostly comprised of second team players. The Bulldog offensive line finally managed to open up some holes for Maas and Griffiths to crease through. Ottumwa succesfully moved the ball downfield until Goodvin found Zach Bowling for a 39-yard touchdown reception. Justin Vonderhaar booted the extra point. Neither team scored  again and the Maroons triumphed, 41-7.

In other Class 4A Division 3 action, Mason City picked up its first win of the year with a convincing 41-7 victory at Division 3 opponent Des Moines Hoover.

The Bulldogs (3-5, 1-2) have a bye this week, and will not play again until Oct. 19 when they take on Hoover at Schafer Stadium.