|WL football struggles against Mt. Vernon|
by Norv and Mary Coblentz · September 18, 2013
The West Liberty football team started off looking good Friday, but some costly errors contributed to their 41-10 loss to the visiting Mount Vernon Mustangs.
"I think it was a problem of execution," West Liberty Head Coach Ben Slife said. "I think obviously with (our first drive), we went down like clockwork, all the way down the field. Then after that, we moved the ball up and down the field - it's not like they killed us yardage-wise, it's not like the score indicates - we just killed ourselves with penalties all night long."
The Comets kicked off to start the game, and the Mustangs started their first drive at the 25-yard line. It was three-and-out for Mount Vernon with tackles by John Jepson, Carl Guardado, and Kohl Wheeler for the Comets. The punt was short, and the Comets started their first drive of the game near mid-field.
Riley Anderson rushed for nine yards and second-and-one at the Mount Vernon 40. Brett Becker, quarterback, passed the ball to Cooper Koenig for a 28-yard pass play. It was first-and-10 at the 12. Guardado took a handoff and gained six yards, then Becker passed the ball to Kyle Miller for a touchdown. Jesus Garcia kicked the PAT, and the Comets led 7-0 with 8:59 left in the first quarter.
Later on the Comets touched an MV punt, then it was recovered by the Mustangs. Mount Vernon had a first down at the West Liberty 15. A carry gained six yards, stopped by Guardado and Wheeler. Anderson got a tackle-for-loss, making it third and 12 at the 17. Then the Comets had a penalty, making it third and four at the nine-yard line. Christian Garcia got a sack, making it fourth-and five at the 10. The Mustangs went for the fourth-down conversion, and they were successful with a complete pass. It was first-and-goal at the three. Guardado and Wheeler stopped the Mustangs' first run at the end zone, but the second try was successful for Mount Vernon. The Mustangs were also successful on a two-point conversion throw, and they took an 8-7 lead with 4:10 left in the first quarter.
Guardado made a good return on the Mount Vernon kickoff, and the Comets started at their own 31. Trevor Schneider had a two-yard carry for the Comets, then Becker pitched the ball out to Anderson, who ran for a first down at the 42. After an incomplete pass, Heick ran the ball up the middle for another WL first down at the Mount Vernon 41. Heick got the ball again, running to the far side for another first down at the Mount Vernon 27. Schneider carried for no gain, then Becker gained six yards on a keeper. A false start penalty on the Comets made it third-and-nine, and an incomplete pass made it fourth down. Then the Comets fumbled the ball. They recovered it, but the Comets turned it over on downs.
A completed pass, a run for the first down, and a carry for four more yards (stopped by Dylan Van Dusen and C. Garcia) brought up second-and-six for Mt. Vernon. Anderson got a tackle-for-loss. With Guardado pressuring the MV quarterback and Henderson on pass coverage, the Mustangs threw an incomplete pass, bringing up fourth down and eight at the 32. The Mustangs went for the fourth-down conversion again, and they were successful with a pass to the 24-yard line.
Tyler Lyon and Guardado got a tackle to stop a three-yard run, then Guardado knocked down a pass for third-and-seven at the 21. The Mustangs put together a pass play for a touchdown. They went for the two-point conversion again, but Guardado brought down the quarterback. The Mustangs had a 14-7 lead with 9:01 left in the first half.
Later on, starting with an excellent field position, West Liberty got a quick first down on a 13-yard carry by Anderson. Schneider got a yard on a carry, then an incomplete pass brought up third down and nine. Becker was sacked. West Liberty called a time out, and when the game resumed, the Comets went for the fourth-down conversion. It didn't work, and the Mustangs took over on downs at their own 35 with 2:29 to go in the half.
A two-yard run was stopped by Anderson and Guardado, then another two-yard run was stopped by Henderson. The next runner broke away for a touchdown. The two-point try for the Mustangs was no good, and they led 20-7 with 1:23 on the clock.
Koenig fielded the Mustangs kickoff and pitched the ball to Guardado, who had a good return to the Mount Vernon 35. After two incomplete passes, Becker connected with Guardado for a big gain and a first down at the Mount Vernon 19. There were 34 seconds left in the half, and two more incomplete passes made it third-and-10 with 25 seconds to go. Koenig caught a pass and made it out of bounds, but he was short of the first down. On fourth-and-two at the 11 and 17 seconds on the clock, Jesus Garcia kicked a field goal. The Comets trailed 20-10. Mount Vernon had a nice return on the West Liberty kickoff with Noel Palma getting the stop for the Comets. The Mustangs completed a pass, but the half ended with a 20-10 score.
The Mustangs gained six yards on a run, then got a first down with a pass. After a near-interception, the Mustangs were called for holding, and it was first-and-20. Mount Vernon threw another pass, and the Comets were called for pass interference, giving the Mustangs first-down and five yards. They ran for another touchdown, then tried for a two-point conversion with success. The Mustangs were flagged on the play, so they had to try again. Their second attempt was also good, and Mount Vernon led the Comets 28-10 with 9:53 left in the third quarter.
Later, the Mustangs moved the ball well, marched down the field, and scored on a five-yard touchdown pass. The PAT kick was no good. The Mustangs led 34-10.
After the Mount Vernon kickoff, West Liberty started a drive at their own 30-yard line. A short run and an incomplete pass was followed by a fumble after a bad snap. Mount Vernon recovered the ball at the West Liberty 26 with 53 seconds left in the third quarter. Mount Vernon had a short way to go for another touchdown. They had a first down at the 16 with their first carry, then Hieck got a stop for no gain as the quarter ended.
The Mustangs' first play of the fourth quarter was a touchdown pass. The PAT kick was good for a 41-10 Mount Vernon lead. That was the only score of the fourth quarter, thus making it the final score.
"There were some mistakes on both sides tonight," Mount Vernon Head Coach Duane Orr said, "but I will definitely compliment them for the way they took the field. It took us a series to adjust to the speed of the game, and they've got some tremendous athletes on this football team. We have talked about the success that Coach Slife and the Comets program has had in the past three years. They've been an outstanding playoff team from Eastern Iowa. We have a lot of respect for the kids who were returning from last year's playoff team, and we knew they were going to be tough and they were going to be fast."
With their first two games behind them, the Comets now look forward to district play.
"We have a lot of stuff to clean up," West Liberty Head Coach Ben Slife said. "Special teams, we need to be able to field a punt. Defense, we need to be able to tackle and get off the field."
"I told the guys after the game we're in the same position we were in last year, and we ended up having a pretty decent year. I still think we'll be having a pretty good season. We really challenged ourselves with the scheduling, and we knew it was going to be difficult when we got the assignment two years ago. We know what kind of team Mount Vernon is, and obviously you know what you're getting when you pick up Regina."
"But I think it will help us in district play; I think we'll be ready. We definitely battled past it. We got more guys in than I anticipated as far as playing time, so I think - obviously we don't like being 0-2, but, we're relatively healthy, we battled tough, and we're looking forward to district play."
Next up for the Comets is Louisa-Muscatine, and they will travel to Letts for the game. Last year, West Liberty won the contact 35-14.
"It will be interesting to see," Slife said. "They've got some very talented kids, and they're ranked 10th for a reason going into last week. It's going to be a battle of wills. It's always knock-down-drag-out when we play L-M."