|Comets football loses tough opener |
by Norv and Mary Coblentz · September 11, 2013
The West Liberty Comets football team faced the Regina machine in their season-opener, Aug. 30, in Iowa City.
The Regals defeated the Comets 42-14, extending their winning streak to 43 games on a sultry evening with temperatures well into the 90s at game time.
The heat was brutal, but the Comets didn't struggle as much this time as they have at very hot games last season. West Liberty Head Coach Ben Slife explained that he was able to use a lot of players to help keep the team fresher.
"I like our depth right now," he said. "I simplified the scheme a little bit on offense tonight. We got a little tired. Their screen plays killed us. The team chemistry is probably the strongest thing on this team in my four years. Maybe we're not as talented, but I think we're going to have a nice season."
The Comets held Regina to one touchdown in the first quarter, and that came near the end.
"It was a good test physically," Regina Head Coach Marv Cook said. "West Liberty's Coach Slife does a phenomenal job. I've always really admired what they do. Their schemes are great. They came out and gave us everything we wanted early on. We made a couple of big plays and got us some breathing room. Their staff does a great job, and their kids play really hard."
The Comets punted to start the second quarter, and they twice took the Regals to a third down, but both times Regina found a way to move the ball, the second time with a complete pass into the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point was good, and the Regals led 14-0 with 7:06 left in the first half.
Brett Becker fielded the Regals kickoff, but he was stopped before gaining any ground, and the Comets were at the 13-yard line. Sam Weaver gained a yard on a carry, and Riley Anderson gained three yards on a carry, but an incomplete pass forced the Comets to punt. Carl Guardado got off a good punt despite a snap that went wide. The Regals had the ball on their own 38-yard line.
The Regals gained eight yards on a rushing play, then their quarterback ran the option and got a first down on the West Liberty 41. Troy Heick stopped a Regina rusher, and the Regals were penalized 10 yards for a first-and-11 at the 42. The Regina quarterback completed a pass, but Elliot Henderson stopped the receiver before a first down was gained. The Comets defense got a sack, but a pitch out and run scored another touchdown for Regina. The extra point was good, and with 3:11 left in the half, Regina was up 21-0.
Noel Palma recovered the Regina kickoff, and the Comets had the ball at their own 30-yard line. Anderson gained nine yards on a carry, then Becker was sacked for a one-yard loss. Guardado took the handoff and got the first down at the 44. An incomplete pass made it second down and 10 to go, then Becker scrambled for a five-yard gain. The Comets fumbled the ball, and Regina recovered it. Becker was injured and left the field.
It didn't take long for the Regals to move down the field on a running play, a pass play and a touchdown pass. The kick was good again, and with 21 seconds left on the clock, Regina led 28-0.
Cooper Koenig came in as quarterback for the Comets in the final seconds of the first half. Guardado got a first down at the 25, then the Comets took a knee and the first half ended.
Kyle Miller received the Regina kickoff at the 10-yard line to start the second half. Trevor Schneider carried the ball for a small loss, then Koenig, still in at QB, ran the option and gained four yards. Another keeper gained another yard, but Koenig was injured on the play. Becker, just back from having his injury x-rayed, came back in as quarterback. The Comets got off a short punt, and the Regals had a 15-yard return for first and 10 at the West Liberty 30.
Regina had an incomplete pass with Miller in on the coverage for the Comets. A carry gained Regina five yards, then another running play made it first and 10 at the 20. The Comets stopped the next play with just a yard gained, but a complete pass made it first and goal on the eight. The next play was a touchdown run, the PAT was good, and Regina led 35-0 with 8:04 left in the third quarter. The 35-point "mercy" rule, in which the clock runs continuously except for injuries, scoring, time-outs, penalties, the end of a quarter, and safety reasons.
Edgar Castillo returned the Regina kickoff to the 29-yard line. Gardado ran for 11 yards for a first down. A run for zero yards, an incomplete pass, and a carry for a loss made it fourth and 12. The Comets punted.
Heick and Weaver stopped the return at the 31. A running play gained Regina five yards, then John Jepson got a big stop. An incomplete pass later, the Regals were forced to punt.
West Liberty took over on their own 24-yard line. Heick carried the ball for a first down at the 35 with less than a minute to go in the quarter. Becker got another first down on a keeper, then Schneider gained two yards on a run as the quarter expired.
Heick took the pitch out from Becker and made a nice run to the Regina 37 for a first down. Anderson rushed for a 20-yard gain to the 17. Guardado gained seven yards, then Schneider powered to the two-yard line. It was first and goal for the Comets with less than 10 minutes left in the game. The Regals called a time out.
When play resumed, Schneider got the ball again, but he was stopped at the line of scrimmage. Becker scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak with 8:25 on the clock. The continuous clock rule was no longer in effect. The Comets were penalized for an illegal substitution before Raudel Fierro kicked the PAT. The five-yard penalty didn't phase Fierro, and the kick was good for a 35-7 score.
Fierro kicked off for the Comets, and the ball was returned to the Regina 34. Noah Barten was in on the tackle for the Comets. The Regals got a first down on a couple of carries, then Dylan Van Dusen recovered a Regina fumble near mid-field with 6:41 left in the game.
Becker's pass to Anderson was complete, and Anderson ran out of bounds at the 41 for second-and-three. Noel Palma ran the ball for a couple of yards, just short of the first down. Becker ran the option for a nice gain and a first down at the Regina 20. Palma gained six yards rushing, then Regina called a time out.
After the time out, Palma got the ball again and got the first down at the 10. Becker kept the ball for a four-yard gain for second and goal with about four minutes left in the game. Weaver scored the six-yard touchdown with 3:43 to go. Fierro's PAT was good, and the score was 35-14.
Fierro kicked the ball off again then did double duty when the Regina ball returner broke loose and headed for the end zone. Fierro ran him out of bounds at the West Liberty 28. Regina moved the ball and scored a touchdown with 28.7 seconds to go. The PAT was good, and the score as 42-14.
The Comets used a passing offense and got a couple of first downs, but there wasn't enough time on the clock.