Comets football wins district opener

By Norv and Mary Coblentz · Tuesday, September 18, 2012
The West Liberty Comets football team notched their first win of the season, knocking off the Louisa-Muscatine Falcons 35-14 in the district opener at West Liberty Sept. 7.

West Liberty kicked off to start the game with Raudel Fierro’s kick going into the end zone for a touchback. The Falcons moved the ball well, twice converting on fourth down and short. As they neared mid-field on first down, Tyler Newsom got a tackle for loss, then the Falcons recovered their own fumble, but lost yardage again. On third and 14, a carry to the far side was stopped far short of the first down by Edgar Castillo and Nick Boehme. The Falcons lined up to punt, then West Liberty called a time out. When play resumed, the Falcons tried a fake punt. The Comets were not fooled, and L-M turned the ball over on downs.

The Comets began their first drive of the game on the L-M 32. Riley Anderson carried the ball for the Comets, but an illegal motion penalty made it first and 20. Newsom completed a pass to Anderson for the first down at the 23-yard line. Newsom ran the ball into the end zone on the next play for a touchdown. Fierro’s PAT was good for a 7-0 West Liberty lead.

In the next L-M possession, West Liberty had a costly penalty. The Falcons returned Fierro’s kickoff to the 27-yard line, then converted on third down. Troy Heick got a sack to make it third and 17, and a stop by Dakota Even forced a punt. The Comets were called for roughing the kicker, and the Falcons had a first down at the West Liberty 45. The Falcons had trouble moving the ball again but converted on fourth and three with a quarterback keeper to the outside. As the second quarter started, the Falcons ran 25 yards for a touchdown. They tried for a two-point conversion but Newsom stopped it. The Comets held a 7-6 edge with 11:20 left in the half.

The Falcons tried an onside kick, but Castillo fell on it for the Comets, giving them great field position to start the drive at the 50. A carry by Boehme and a pass to Brett Becker gave the Comets a first down at the L-M 37. Boehme took the handoff and churned his way to another first down, this time at the 25. A pitch to Anderson didn’t gain much, and a keeper had the same results. On third and 10 on the 25, Newsom ran for the first down, coming up just short. He carried the ball for the first down, putting the Comets well into the red zone. On first and 10 at the 11, the Falcons nearly got an interception, but the pass fell incomplete. Anderson carried for a yard, then a pass from Newsom to Becker gave the Comets their second TD of the game. The PAT by Fierro was good, and West Liberty led 14-6 with 8:14 left in the half.

Fierro’s kickoff was returned to the L-M 23, then a carry made it second and six. The Falcons fumbled the ball with the help of a big tackle by Anderson. Ryan Johnson recovered the fumble for the Comets. West Liberty got as close as the one-yard line, but the Falcons held them off, helped by a couple of penalties on the Comets. The Comets’ field goal attempt was no good.

The Falcons started on their 20 and made a couple of first downs before stops by Boehme and Johnson and a sack by Cole Roszell made it fourth and 11 at the 50. The Falcons overthrew the ball and turned it over on downs.

Boehme got the handoff and powered out 25 yards for first and 10 at the L-M 25. Newsom lost a couple of yards on a keeper, then a complete pass to Becker made it first and goal at the five. Boehme carried the ball for a touchdown on the next play. The PAT was good again for a 21-6 West liberty lead with just 1:15 left in the half. The Falcons didn’t get far with their possession, and the half ended with L-M at their own 26.

The Comets received to start the second half. They got one first down before punting. The Falcons turned the ball over on downs, failing to convert on fourth and four thanks to a stop by Daniel Jacques and Boehme.

The Comets fumbled the ball, but Benji Garcia recovered it for the Comets. An incomplete pass was followed by a carry by Roszell up the middle for the first down. Another Roszell carry made it first and goal at the four. Penalties put the Comets at first and goal at the 14, then an interception was run back by the Falcons. Bryan DeBock made a stop to prevent a touchdown.

The Falcons started their drive on their own 44 and turned it over on downs on the West Liberty 47. Castillo, Israel Montelongo, Henderson, and Heick made the stops for the Comets.

Rozell ran for long yardage from the West Liberty 47 to the L-M 37 for a big first down. A penalty put them back at the 47, and carries by Boehme, Anderson, and a pass to Anderson made it fourth and nine at the 36. The Comets called a time out, then went for it. Newsom’s pass to Becker was complete for a touchdown. Fierro’s PAT was good again, and the Comets led 28-6 with 2:28 left in the third quarter.

Fierro did double duty on the next play, both kicking off and bringing down the Falcon who was making a run for the end zone. The Falcons got the ball at the 50 yard line. They got to the West Liberty 42 on fourth and two and went for it, getting the first down. After the fourth quarter started, the Falcons got another first down, this one on the West Liberty 26. They turned it over on downs again.

The Comets had some more penalty trouble but worked their way out of it. A personal foul on L-M helped. The Comets got near mid-field on a quarterback keeper that gained 17 yards for a first down. Then Anderson broke away for a 55-yard touchdown. Fierro’s PAT was good, making him perfect on the night, and West Liberty led 15-6 with 7:39 left in the game.

The Falcons had another long return to their own 43. They got three first downs before fumbling the ball. West Liberty recovered it.

The Comets went three and out, and the Falcons marched down the field to score a touchdown. The two-point conversion carry was good, and the final score was 35-14, West Liberty.

The L-M coach liked his team’s effort, but acknowledged they have some work to do. “The kids went out there and they had high effort, high intensity on each play,” Louisa-Muscatine Head Coach Guy Dierikx said. “We’re learning as a program. We’re learning each and every day how to be a winner. That’s what we’re trying to do.”

Ben Slife, West Liberty Head Coach, liked the improvements he’s seen in the Comets. “It was nice to get off on the right foot here as far as district play. I was happy with the kids. I thought our execution was a lot cleaner tonight,” Slife said. “I think we shot ourselves in the foot (at times). They didn’t really stop us defensively.”

This week, the Comets will face Columbus at home for the homecoming game. Columbus is 1-2 on the season, losing to WACO and Wapello and defeating West Burlington 24-0. “I know it’s going to be homecoming for us,” Slife said, “and we’re going to be emotional about it, but we need to come out and play levelheaded and execute on offense.”

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