Cobras rise up in postseason opener

Sigourney-Keota’s Zach Smithart (75) hoists Cade Molyneux (10) after a touchdown during high school football action against 2A playoff qualifier Centerville on Sept. 10 at Paul Johnson Field in Centerville.

SIGOURNEY – Who knows how the 2021 high school football seasons would have played out for Durant and Sigourney-Keota had it not been for one key Wildcat fumble that turned into a game-winning touchdown for the Cobras.

Two months after rallying in the final minute thanks to a last-minute defensive play in Durant, third-ranked S-K made sure there was far less late-game drama in the postseason rematch with the Wildcats on Friday night. After narrowly winning 23-20 at Durant for their first win, S-K earned their ninth straight win without a loss in the Class 1A state football playoff rematch at Cobra Field pulling away in the fourth quarter to clinch a 34-8 win with three touchdowns in the final 12 minutes.

The Cobras knew they would need to contain Durant's running back Nolan DeLong who entered the game with 1,480 rushing yards on the season. DeLong gained 144 yards and two touchdowns, including a 49-yard scoring dash, on 22 carries in the season opener against S-K on Aug. 27.

"We knew we would need to gang tackle DeLong," assessed S-K skipper Jared Jensen.

The S-K offense appeared sluggish through most of the first quarter. One week after collecting his first touchdown on a 22-yard deflected punt return against Van Buren County, sophomore defensive end Evan Vittetoe helped the Cobras get on the scoreboard in Friday's playoff opener picking off a pass and coming within eight yards of his second touchdown on a 30-yard return following a pair of Cobra sacks.

Cade Molyneux would finish what Vittetoe started, taking the footballl into the end zone on an eight-yard run. Coltan Clarahan added the extra point, giving S-K a 7-0 lead early in the second quarter.

Taking possession at their own 26-yard line with 7:09 in the second quarter, the Cobras put together a long run-oriented drive. Molyneux capped off the drive with a one-yard score, his third rushing touchdown in two games this season against Durant, to open a 13-0 S-K lead.

Durant would avoid falling even further behind before halftime, blocking a 23-yard field goal attempt by Clarahan set up by a 27-yard run in the final minute by Molyneux. The Wildcats went back to DeLong for a much-needed score in the third quarter as a five-yard touchdown run and two-point conversion by the junior running back cut S-K's lead to 13-8 heading into the fourth quarter.

The S-K offense, with the game and its perfect season on the line, went into high gear while Durant (2-7) suddenly had to deal with an injury to DeLong that would sideline their top playmaker. The Cobras would put on a drive together early in the fourth quarter with Molyneux scoring on a one-yard run and Clarahan scoring on the conversion, opening a two-touchdown lead over the depleted Wildcats.

S-K would put the game away with the ensuing drive, highlighted by an eight-yard reverse to Levi Crawford that took the ball to the Durant four-yard line. Molyneux would score his fourth touchdown of the game, taking the ball in from the four, to put the Cobras up 28-8.

With DeLong out of the game, Durant was forced to throw the ball. S-K linebacker Karson Weber would put the finishing touches on the Cobra postseason, picking off a pass and returning it 75 yards for the game-sealing touchdown. 

"The O-line fixed some things from the first time we played Durant," noted Jensen.

S-K (9-0) learned on Saturday the road to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls will include some familiar faces in Pod 3 of the Class 1A playoffs. The Cobras will host Columbus Catholic (7-2) this Friday in a rematch of a 35-32 state quarterfinal win by S-K last November at 'The Snake Pit.' The winner will face either Pella Christian (8-1) or No. 5 Dike-New Hartford (9-0) the following week in the 1A state quarterfinals with a trip to Cedar Falls on the line.

PREP FOOTBALL

Class 1A State Playoffs, First Round

No. 3 Sigourney-Keota 34, Durant 8

Scoring:

2nd Quarter

9:40 - S-K: Molyneux 8-yard run (Clarahan kick) 7-0

3:15 - S-K Molyneux 1-yard run (Kick failed) 13-0

3rd Quarter

1:21 - Durant: DeLong 5-yard run (DeLong run) 13-8

4th Quarter

8:45 - S-K: Molyneux 1 yard-run (Clarahan run) 21-8

4:55- S-K: Molyneux 4-yard run (Clarahan kick) 28-8

3:12- S-K: Weber 75-yard interception return (kick failed) 34-8

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