By ANDY HEINTZ Courier sports writer
---- — MOUNT PLEASANT— In its first game of the season, the Ottumwa football team showed off its impressive running game. Last Friday, the Ottumwa passing attack also got its chance to spread its wings.
Ottumwa quarterback Shane Frazier completed 12 of 17 passes for 163 yards to help Ottumwa rout Mount Pleasant 46-3 in the Bulldogs first road game of the season.
“I was really proud with how our guys performed on Friday,” Ottumwa football coach Zach Pfantz said. “I think we showed a lot of improvement.”
Although Frazier has put in a lot of hard work to improve his game, Pfantz also credited offensive coordinator Andy Tekippe for helping develop the Bulldog quarterback’s skills in his first year as a starter.
“He [Tekippe] really has done a great job with Shane,” Pfantz said. “He has really done a good job coaching him up and working on our offense. I’ve been really impressed with how well he has Shane playing.”
Frazier’s favorite target on this night was Zach Bowling, who had a whale of a game at wide receivers. Bowling’s august performance included seven catches for 119 yards. One of those catches — a long reception while being blanketed by two Panther defenders — was worthy of a spot on SportsCenter’s highlight reel.
“Zach is really a very intense competitor,” Pfantz said. “When he gets on the field, he’s really competing. I thought he played great.”
This doesn’t mean Ottumwa’s run game was stagnant — far from it. The Bulldogs ran for a total of 220 yards on 39 carries. Once again, Ottumwa’s running attack was spearheaded by Isaiah Cox. The sophomore running back rushed for 115 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Cox’s first two touchdowns helped the Bulldogs build an early lead in the first quarter.
Andrew Altfillisch had another monster night returning kickoffs and punts. He returned three punts for 70 yards and two kickoff returns for 80 yards. Ottumwa established its offensive prowess on its first drive.
Cox, complemented by some pristine blocking, marched Ottumwa down the field with some runs that ate up large chunks of yardage in the team’s first drive.The sophomore running back capped off the drive by scampering 14 yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead with a little over nine minutes left in the quarter. Justin Vonderhaar booted in the extra point to grow Ottumwa’s lead to 7-0.
Although the Bulldogs second drive slogged along a bit more slowly than the first, Ottumwa was once again able to convert when it neared the end zone. The catalyst of the drive was Bowling. Frazier fired a pass up the middle to Bowling that was tipped by a Panther defender. The tip, however, wasn’t forceful enough to change the course of the ball’s flight and Bowling caught the pass in midstride and galloped into Panther territory for a 37-yard gain. Cox eventually finished the drive by rushing 10 yards for a touchdown.
Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense was enjoying a lot of success against the Panther’s run and pass attack. Ottumwa’s line constantly pressured Panther quarterback Dustin Amos, which rendered Mount Pleasant’s passing attack virtually nonexistent. And, the Panthers running game fared only a little better than it’s passing attack. Mount Pleasant finished with only 19 passing yards and the Panthers only managed to gain 32 yards on 30 carries.
Frazier continued to routinely find Bowling with passes along with a potpourri of other Ottumwa receivers including Titus Weller, Corey Ridgway and Titus Weller. With over six minutes left in the half, Frazier fired a six-yard pass to Kyle Lundy in the middle of the end zone for a touchdown. By halftime, Ottumwa’s lead had ballooned to 26-0.
Cox got Ottumwa off to a positive start in third quarter with an awe-inspiring 27-yard touchdown. On the run, Cox switched directions, evaded a tackler, shed two other would-be tacklers and dashed into the end zone to increase Ottumwa’s lead to 32-0. Vonderhaar’s extra point made it 33-0.
The Panthers finally managed got on the scoreboard with a couple of minutes left in the fourth, as Nyazum Gwamma booted in a 25-yard field goal. In the final minute, however, the Bulldog offense, consisting almost entirely of substitutes, had one more burst of energy left in it. With about 16 seconds remaining, Jalen Strunk capped off the night for Ottumwa by rushing for a 25-yards touchdown that extended Ottumwa’s lead to 46-3.
Ottumwa’s perfect season came to an abrupt end when the Iowa High School Athletic Association decided the Bulldogs would have forfeit their season-opening victory over Keokuk because an academically ineligible player competed in the game for Ottumwa. When the Ottumwa coaching staff learned that an academically ineligible had played in the game they self-reported the oversight to the IHSAA. Pfantz, however, said the unfortunate reversal of fortune doesn’t take away from what Ottumwa accomplished on the field that night.
“It just means it doesn’t count officially,” the Ottumwa coach said.
Ottumwa Athletic Director Tom Kopatich said he thought the ineligible player will be suspended 30 days starting the day after the Keokuk game. So, if Kopatich is correct, the player would be eligible to play again Sept. 29.
In other Class 4A, Division 3 action, Dowling picked up a big 37-26 win over West Des Moines Valley and Ankeny Centennial improved to 2-0 with a 51-39 win over Johnston. In addition, Marshalltown’s struggles continued with a lopsided 62-6 loss at Waukee. With the loss, the Bobcats dropped to 0-2. Plus, Des Moines Hoover was thumped by Urbandale 49-10 and Mason City fell to Waverly-Shell Rock 21-9.
Ottumwa (1-1) plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Des Moines East.
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Ottumwa 46, Mt. Pleasant 3
Ottu 13 13 7 13 — 46
Moun 0 0 0 3 — 3
Scoring By Quarters
OTT — 14-yard run by Isaiah Cox (Justin Vonderhaar kick), 9:10.
OTT — 10-yard run by Cox (Vonderhaar kick no good), 3:23.
OTT — 23-yard field goal by Vonderhaar, 11:43.
OTT — 6-yard catch by Kyle Lundy from Shane Frazier (Vonderhaar kick), 6:12.
OTT —40-yard field goal by Vonderhaar, .13.
OTT — 27-yard run by Cox (Vonderhaar kick), 8:26.
OTT — 20-yard run Isaiah Hutchinson (Vonderhaar kick).
MOUNT — 25-yard field goal by Nyazum Gwamma, 1:42.
OTT — 25-yard run by Jalen Strunk (Vonderhaar kick), .16.
Ottumwa Mount Pleasant
First downs 18 14
Rushes-yards 39-220 30-32
Passing yards 163 19
Total Yards 383 51
Comp-Att-Int 17-12-0 7-1-0
Return Yards 15-150 10-188
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yds 8-53 1-14
RUSHING — Josh Larson 11-37 yards, Carson Remick 7-21 yards, Dustin Amos 7-(-13) yards, Tony Cristoforo 5-(-13) yards.
PASSING — Amos 1-19 yards.
RECEIVING — Ben Canby 1-19 yards.
TACKLES — Remick 10, Amos 5, Chance Smith 5, Justin Chalupa.
RUSHING — Cox 12-115 yards, Hutchinson 15-70 yards, Shane Frazier 8-35 yards, Logan Platten 1-0 yards, Jalen Strunk 1-25 yards.
PASSING — Frazier 12-163 yards.
RECEIVING — Zach Bowling 7-119 yards, Corey Ridgway 2-23 yards, Kyle Lundy 2-7 yards, Titus Weller 1-14 yards.
TACKLES — Chris Peden 8, Cox 5, Brok Hopwood 3, Cole Eklund, Kyle Lundy 4, Sam Kramer 3, Matthew Moreland 2, Dylan Hedgecock 2, Ridgway 3, Sam Moreland, Jake Waller, Osha Wylie 2, Conner Mier, Tyler Lundy, Aaron Townshend.