By ROGER THOMAS
---- — BUSSEY — With rain and lightning dominating the pregame for Wednesday's 8-man first round football game between Twin Cedars and Lamoni, there was some doubt about the start time or the playing of the game.
The two teams took the field to warm up with these things still in doubt. The conditions improved slightly and the game started just a mere 10 minutes late.
What followed was a 40-22 win by the Sabers. The win was the first playoff win for Twin Cedars since 2002 and it set a new standard for wins in a season as it was the 10th of the season for the Sabers.
“I think a couple of things contributed to this win,” said Twin Cedars’ coach Aaron Allspach. “The success baseball had this summer, the fact that our district hasn’t fared too well in the playoffs and the fact that we have a good group of talented, hard-working kids made the difference.”
The skies above Bussey didn't clear up aside from the lightning. The rain, most of the time light but steady and sometimes downright heavy, made the conditions right for 13 combined bad snaps, bobbles or fumbles by the teams in the opening half.
When you are a team that relies heavily on the pass and you walk onto the field under those conditions, the negative thoughts could be running wild.
“I figured we might have to throw it a little less,” said Allspach. “We thought there were still a couple of places we could take advantage of with the pass.”
The Sabers were forced to punt on its opening drive. The snap sailed high and the punter kicked the ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety. It was better than a touchdown but it still allowed Lamoni to go up quickly 2-0.
Twin Cedars stopped Lamoni on downs to get the ball back. The two teams traded drive-ending fumble recoveries before the Sabers took a 6-2 lead on the first of five touchdown passes by Brent Parker. The first scoring pass was 20 yards to Otis Roby.
The next score turned the contest into a real baseball game as another Lamoni safety made the score Twin Cedars 6, Lamoni 4.
Another Lamoni fumble gave the Sabers good field position near midfield. Tim Loeffler had the bulk of the carries as Twin Cedars marched down to a one-yard run by Parker with just nine seconds left in the opening quarter.
Lamoni closed the gap as quarterback Colton Ranney scored on a 28-yard run.
“We were really conscious of defending their sweep and I felt like we did,” said Allspach. “That might have opened up the middle some and their quarterback took advantage of that.”
Parker's second scoring strike, 21 yards to Coy Moore, gave the Sabers an 18-10 lead.
The visitors used another fumble recovery to set up a short drive for a score. After starting at the Twin Cedars' 10, Daniel Ansong would score from 10 yards out on the first play.
Clinging to an 18-16 lead, the Saber defense recovered a fumble and the offense took over at the Lamoni 32. With the clock winding down, Parker hit Moore again for a score, this time covering 29 yards. Parker hit Roby for the conversion and the Sabers took a 26-16 lead to the locker room.
With each team losing three fumbles in the opening half, the difference to that point had to be the strength of the Saber defense and their ability to pass the ball despite the conditions.
Parker, already with three touchdown passes, talked about passing in the rain.
“We practiced all week with a wet ball and I knew our receivers could put a shake on a guy and get open,” Parker said. “We were confident about using the pass.”
Lamoni had one of its best drives to open the second half. The ninth play of the drive, however, resulted in another fumble lost.
Twin Cedars failed to score as an interception gave the visitors the ball deep in Saber territory at the 14. Roby's interception in the end zone kept the visitors from narrowing the 10-point lead.
Roby was at the other end of the drive that gave the Sabers a 34-16 lead. Parker hit Roby with a 26-yard scoring pass and then hit Garrett Pettyjohn with the conversion pass.
Roby, who had three touchdown catches and two interceptions, had to take the ball away from the defender to score.
“I had a hand on it early but he had both his on the ball so I had to take it away,” said Roby. “I feel like my biggest catch was the interception in the end zone.”
Lamoni had to punt the ball back to the Sabers. The 16-yard return by Moore was highlighted by a huge block by Corey Harrell. Harrell would have another hit that big later in the final quarter as he tackled a Lamoni ball carrier near the sideline.
Harrell, a defensive tackle, talked about his game.
“We were widened out a little so we could stop the sweep,” Harrell said. “The runner kind of turned back into the field and I got him.”
Twin Cedars turned Moore’s return into their final score. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Parker connected with Roby for the third time good for 21 yards and a 40-16 lead.
The game sloshed to the end with only one more score. Lamoni’s Ranney ran in his second touchdown from eight yards out to close out the game’s scoring and make the final 40-22 Twin Cedars.
Twin Cedars (10-1) will travel to Adair Monday night to take on highly ranked Adair-Casey. The Bombers (10-0) beat Meskwaki Settlement, 59-20, in its playoff opener.
“They are tough but we look forward to the challenge of playing against them and their talented running back (Ploughman),” said Allspach.
“I've been thinking about going against that back for a long time,” added Harrell.
8-Man State Playoffs, First Round
Twin Cedars 40, Lamoni 22
LAM 4 12 00 6 – 22
T.C. 12 14 8 6 – 40
Scoring By Quarters
L – Safety, TC punter kicked ball out of end zone
TC – Brent Parker to Otis Roby 20 yard pass (pass failed)
L – Safety, TC punter threw ball out of end zone
TC – Parker 1 yard run (pass failed)
L – Colton Ranney 28 yard run (pass failed)
TC – Parker 21 yard pass to Moore (pass failed)
L – Daniel Ansong 10 yard run (run failed)
TC – Parker 29 yard pass to Coy Moore (Parker pass to Roby)
TC – Parker 26 yard pass to Roby (Parker pass to Pettyjohn)
TC – Parker 21 yard pass to Roby (run failed)
L – Ranney 8 yard run (run failed)
First downs 17 14
Rushes-yards 45-55 45-154
Passing yards 240 25
Total Yards 295 179
Comp-Att-Int 14-23-1 4-15-3
Return Yards 7-82 8-183
Fumbles-Lost 8-3 7-5
Penalties-Yds 8-60 6-35
RUSHING – Daniel Ansong 17-61 yards, Colton Ranney 24-93 yards, Jacob Williams 3-4 yards, Drew Radloff 1-(-4) yards.
PASSING – Ranney 4-15, 25 yards.
RECEIVING – Caleb Heltenberg 2-1 yards, D. Ansong 1-16 yards, Radloff 1-8 yards.
INTERCEPTIONS – D. Ansong.
TACKLE LEADER – William Ansong 8.
RUSHING – Brent Parker 13-(-12) yards, Drew Carlson 8-8 yards, Garrett Pettyjohn 3-(-12) yards, Tim Loeffler 20-54 yards, Hunter Embray 1-12 yards.
PASSING – Parker 14-23-1, 240 yards.
RECEIVING – Coy Moore 3-74 yards, Otis Roby 4-70 yards, Drew Carlson 3-23 yards, Pettyjohn 4-73 yards.
INTERCEPTIONS – Carlson, Roby 2.
TACKLES – Pettyjohn 12, Dalton Garcia 10.