BLOOMFIELD – The effort has been there. The results just have not.
Kent Anderson has seen the Davis County Mustangs show up week after week over each of his first two seasons as head football coach. All Anderson wanted for his kids was to see that hard work pay off with a signature win.
Friday night brought such a victory. Carson Maeder threw for four touchdowns, Gavin McCall rushed for three more scores and the Mustangs capped off Homecoming week with a 59-49 win over Albia, avenging a triple-overtime loss to the Blue Demons last year, one of many painful losses Anderson has had to coach his kids through over the past 15 games.
“It’s the kind of win that we’ve been needing. Albia’s a good team. (Blake) Chance throws the ball everywhere,” Anderson said. “We capitalized on some things early. I was really pleased with the start we had. We challenged the kids to keep the pressure on.”
Davis County (2-5, 1-2) won just about every facet of the game. Offensively, the Mustangs balanced out 165 yards passing by Maeder with 303 rushing yards as a team, including 242 on 25 carries by McCall.
Defensively, Davis County did its part to stymie Albia early as the Blue Demons failed to pick up a first down on its first five drives. Those stops included a 30-yard interception return by Dalton Reeves for a touchdown, followed by a pick from Brett Doxtater that set up Maeder’s second touchdown pass of the quarter to Carson Zeitler, giving Davis County a 27-0 lead.
“It really just showed how much on this team depends on each other,” Maeder said. “We really relied on defense to make plays to help set up our offense. We’re trying to build our program up. It really means a lot to win our first Homecoming game in quite awhile.”
Albia (1-6, 1-2) finally got moving into Mustang territory, scoring on the first of three touchdown receptions by Blake Stewart to open the scoring in the second quarter. The 25-yard touchdown pass was answered by the Mustangs by Clay Collier, who hauled in Maeder’s third touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone from 22 yards out to put the Mustangs up 34-7.
Nate Wynn made his first touchdown catch on the following possession, a four-yard catch late in the first half, to bring Albia within 34-14. Davis County again answered as Maeder found Clayton Smith from six yards out for a touchdown with 10 seconds left in the first half to give Davis County a 41-14 lead.
“The biggest difference for us in this game was the energy we played with,” Maeder said. “We picked each other up all night long. We built off each other. When I started out well last week, I got a lot of that early energy from our defense creating an early turnover. The offense and defense really build that energy off each other and build it up as the game goes along.”
After completing just two of his first 10 pass attempts for seven yards and two interceptions, Chance finished the night throwing for 384 yards, completing 38 of 53 passes for six touchdowns. In the second half, Chance was 27-31 for 263 yards and contributed on all five second half touchdowns for the Blue Demons, adding a 29-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter that helped Albia twice get within two touchdowns.
“Albia did what Albia does,” Anderson said. “They throw the ball around against everybody, but I was really pleased to see the progress we’ve made mentally. We played to win instead of playing to avoid getting beat.”
Davis County turned to McCall to grind out yards and time off the clock. McCall scored from 15 yards and two yards out in the fourth quarter, scores that would prove to be important as Chance closed the scoring for Albia finding Wynn with 16 seconds left for the seventh and final touchdown of the fourth quarter.
“Our line has done a great job opening up those holes for me to run through, but my vision of the field has gotten so much better since the start of the season,” McCall said. “I think we’re playing with a lot more confidence right now. I think we can keep it up for the rest of the season.”
While Albia heads to Williamsburg next Friday night, Davis County heads to Mid-Prairie before closing out the season in two weeks hosting Central Lee.
“History will ultimately tell, but this could be a signature win for this program moving forward,” Anderson said. “I think the kids feel like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders. There is a different between playing to win and playing to keep from getting beat. This is a night our kids really deserve to celebrate.”