By ANDY HEINTZ
Courier sports writer
---- — OTTUMWA —The Ottumwa football team used tough running, great punt returns, solid defense and some huge offensive plays to trounce Keokuk 33-3 in its season opener Friday at Schafer Stadium.
Isaiah Cox rushed for a 92 and 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, Andrew Altfillisch returned a punt for a score in the first quarter, and Hutchinson burst through a hole and scampered 75 yards for a touchdown right before halftime to help Ottumwa rout Keokuk.
The Bulldogs jumped on the Purple Chiefs early. After a strong defensive stand by the Bulldogs, Andrew Altfillisch returned a Keokuk punt 69 yards for a touchdown to give Ottumwa an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Keokuk, capitalizing on a fumble recovery on a punt that touched an Ottumwa player; narrowed the gap to 7-3 when Jordan Martin booted a 25-yard field goal with less than three minutes left in the first quarter.
The momentum swung back and forth until a trick play paid off big time for Ottumwa in the second quarter. The Bulldogs lined up in punt formation form but, instead of punting, the center directly snapped the ball to Altfillisch who scampered thirteen yards for a first down in Purple Chief territory. Then, just a few plays later, Ottumwa quarterback Shane Frazier rolled to his left and rushed down the sideline for a 15-yard touchdown to give Ottumwa a 13-3 advantage.
It looked as if that would be the score at halftime, but the Bulldogs had one more big play left in them. With less than 10 seconds remaining in the half, Isaiah Hutchinson burst through a hole in the middle of the line and, seeing nothing but daylight, sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown. Justin Vonderhaar booted in the extra point to give Ottumwa a 20-3 halftime lead.
Neither team was able to get into any sort of rhythm in the third quarter and score remained the same. In the fourth quarter, however, Cox, who had already had two touchdowns called back because of penalties, shed three blockers and rushed 25 yards into the end zone. Later in the quarter, Cox creased through a hole in the left side of the line and sprinted for his 92 yard touchdown to put Ottumwa ahead 33-3.
Ottumwa went on to pick up the easy win.
Ottumwa (1-0) plays at Mount Pleasant Friday.