|The Comets Win!|
by Norv and Mary Coblentz · September 25, 2013
The many West Liberty football fans who made the trip to Letts, Sept. 13, to see the Comets face the Louisa-Muscatine Falcons drove home with the memory of a thrilling 42-40 Comets come-back victory.
"We battled," West Liberty Head Coach Ben Slife said. "We're always going to have adversity. That's just part of football and part of life. You keep preaching you can't get down, you've got to forget about it and move on."
The Comets had something to move on right from the beginning of the game. Louisa-Muscatine kicked off, and the Comets fumbled the ball with the Falcons recovering. It took L-M just two plays to go the 31 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion try failed, but the Falcons were up 6-0 with less than a minute into the game.
The Falcons kicked off again, and Kyle Miller returned the ball to the 35. Trevor Schneider got the handoff from quarterback Brett Becker. Schneider broke away for a big gain and a first down at the L-M 39-yard line. It was Schneider again for a five-yard carry, then Becker kept the ball and ran to the far side. A holding penalty was called on the Comets, and it was second down and 11 at the 39. Troy Heick ran for a one-yard gain for third-and-10. Becker connected on a pass to Carl Guardado for a touchdown. Raudel Fierro's PAT kick was good, and the Comets took a 7-6 lead with 9:32 left in the first quarter.
The Falcons were forced to punt on a fourth down during their posession. It was a high punt, and the Falcons downed it at the West Liberty 43.
Two carries by Schneider gained four yards, then Troy Heick rushed for a first down all the way to the L-M 37. Becker passed to Cooper Koenig for a five-yard gain, then a pass just went off the fingertips of a leaping Miller. Guardado took a pitch out and ran for the Comets' second touchdown. Fierro's PAT was good again, and the Comets had a 14-6 lead with 6:57 on the clock.
Fierro kicked the ball off for the Comets. The Falcons got a good return, stopped by Edgar Castillo. They started their drive at their own 38-yard line. The Falcons rushed for two first downs, then Christian Garcia got a big stop for a second-and-14 at the West Liberty 28. Another run was stopped by Elliot Henderson for a third down and 12 to go. L-M tried another running play, and J. Garcia chased the runner out of bounds at the 22 for fourth-and-nine.
The Falcons went for the fourth-down conversion and were successful with a quarterback keeper. It was first-and-goal at the nine.
The Comets had a couple of good stops by Noel Palma and Anderson, but a pass scored a touchdown. The L-M two-point conversion try was good this time with a quarterback keeper, and the score was tied 14-14 with 3:40 left in the first quarter.
The Comets began their next drive on their own 30-yard line. Schneider carried for a few yards, then Guardado ran with the ball. A face mask violation on the Falcons gave West Liberty a first down at the 43. Becker ran the option and rushed for a big gain and a first down at the L-M 35. A short gain run, a loss of six yards on a rush and an incomplete pass forced a Comets' punt. Becker's punt went into the endzone for a touchback.
Good Comet defense and stops by John Jepson, Henderson, Robert Torres and Palma forced the Falcons to punt on fourth-and-seven at the 39. The Falcons punt was almost straight up and bounced out of bounds at the L-M 41.
Anderson carried twice for an eight-yard gain then a first down all the way to the L-M 15. The Falcons called a time out with 5:59 left in the half. When the game resumed, the Comets had an incomplete pass, then a fumble. The Falcons recovered the ball at the 15.
The Comets called a time out.
A long pass play yielded a first down at the 37 for the Falcons, then Palma and Heick put a stop to a running play. After another Falcons' timeout, L-M rushed for three yards, stopped by C. Garcia. The Falcons punished themselves on the next play - a run that made it all the way to the West Liberty 25 before Miller shoved the Falcon ball carrier out of bounds. But L-M was called for holding, and they had third down and 17 at their own 30. J. Garcia got a tackle for a loss, forcing a Falcons' punt on fourth-and-19. After another L-M penalty, the Falcons punted an extra five yards back. It was a short punt, and it took a West Liberty roll.
The Comets didn't take advantage of their excellent field position on the L-M 37. An incomplete pass, a Heick run for four yards, then another incomplete pass. An illegal procedure penalty on the the Comets made it fourth-and-11 at the 39, and Becker punted.
The punt was downed at the six. There was 2:44 on the clock. After a two-yard carry, stopped by Schneider, the Comets were penalized five yards for off-sides, and it was second-and-three. The Comets stopped the next carry short of the first down, but the Falcons ran for the fourth-down conversion and succeeded with a first down at their own 23. A pass got the Falcons a first down at the West Liberty 47 with 51.7 seconds left in the half. A penalty sent the Falcons back five yards, then Anderson got a stop for second-and-five at the 42. With 22.1 seconds to go before halftime, the Falcons called a time out.
When play resumed, the Falcons ran the option, and West Liberty was called for a personal foul. The Falcons were in the red zone - first-and 10 at the 14. One pass later, they were in the end zone. The two-point conversion play was no good, but L-M had a 20-14 lead.
Although the momentum seemed to be going the Falcons' way at the end of the first half, the Comets took it back eventually on the first drive. West Liberty kicked off, and L-M started on their own 22. Weaver stopped a four-yard carry, then a late hit by West Liberty gave the Falcons first down on the 41. Jepson and Anderson got a tacke for a three-yard gain, then an encroachment call on the Comets made it second-and-two at midfield.
Then the Falcons fumbled the ball, and Dylan Van Dusen recovered it for the Comets at the L-M 49.
After a West Liberty time out, Becker ran the option and gained six yards on a carry. An incomplete pass made it third-and-four, then Becker got a first down a the 27 on a keeper. Anderson rushed for a first down on the five-yard-line, then Guardado was tackled for a one-yard loss. A pass was incomplete bringing up third-and-goal at the six. Becker kept the ball and got the touchdown with 8:30 left in the quarter. Fierro's PAT kick was good, and the Comets took a 21-20 lead.
Even though the Falcons were penalized twice on their next drive, they still scored. Schneider and Anderson put a stop to a three-yard run, then Palma stopped the Falcons a yard short of a first down. A penalty on the Falcons made it third-and-six. The Falcons were penalized again for an illegal procedure, and it was third-and-11. Van Dusen got a stop for the Comets just short of a first down near midfield. They went for the fourth-down conversion on a run and got it. Anderson got a tackle for a one-yard loss, but L-M got another first down on a carry. The Falcons continued their steady march into the end zone. Their two-point conversion was good, and they had a 28-20 lead with 3:49 on the clock.
J. Garcia kicked off for the Comets, and the Falcons returned the ball to the 30. They got a first down on three carries, then another first down on three carries just after the fourth quarter started. They continued to run the ball, and four first downs later, it was first and goal at the two-yard line. Schneider stopped a touchdown push, then the front line of the Comets held them back, but the Falcons' third run at the end zone resulted in a touchdown. Anderson stopped the two-point conversion try. The Falcons had a 34-28 lead with 7:37 to go in the game.
The L-M kickoff was low. Anderson picked it up and returned it to the 40. The Comets made it to the L-M 40 before an interception gave the ball back to the Falcons.
One play later, a Falcon broke away for a touchdown. The two-point try was no good, but the Falcons had a 40-28 lead, and there was just 5:56 left in the game.
Castillo returned the L-M kickoff to the 36. Becker gained five yards on a keeper. Anderson had a nice run for a first down at the L-M 46. A pass was complete to Anderson, but an illegal procedure penalty on the Comets made it first-and-15 at the West Liberty 49. Two Schneider carries gained five yards. Becker connected with Miller downfield, and it was first-and-goal at the one-yard line. An illegal procedure call on the Comets was declined making it second-and-goal at the five. A touchdown pass to Guardado and PAT kick by Fierro brought the Comets to within five points at 40-35 with 3:55 to go.
Fierro's squib kickoff was recovered by the Falcons near midfield, but the Falcons fumbled the ball, and Schneider recovered it for the Comets.
Schneider broke away for a big run and a first down at the 22. A keeper by Becker made it first-and-goal at the six with 3:20 and counting left on the clock. Schneider rushed for a Comets touchdown, and Fierro's PAT was good for a 42-40 Comets lead with 2:59 left in the game.
The Comets spent the rest of the game running down the clock for short gains. It was fourth-down and inches when, with 59.9 seconds left, the Falcons called a time out.
The Comets converted on fourth down on a quarterback keeper. They took a knee two times, and the game was over.
"We had a few guys go down, and we had a few guys step up," Louisa-Muscatine Head Coach Justin Putz said. "We just let them off the hook at the end. Three turnovers in the second half. That can't happen. West Liberty's too good a team to let that happen."
With the win, the Comets are 1-2 on the season, 1-0 in district play.
"I think L-M's going to have some success this season," Slife said. "They're a good football team. That's why you keep telling your players keep battling, keep battling, keep battling, because you never know what's going to happen. It's a well-coached team."