Monday, October 13, 2008

Lynx use ground and pound to trip up Charles City

Webster City captures 3rd straight win, sits all alone in 2nd-place in district

By Troy Banning, DFJ Sports Editor

CHARLES CITY - Football isn't rocket science. More times than not, the team that can run the ball and stop the run is going to end its night with high-fives and trips to the victory bell.

Being on the road, Webster City didn't have a chance to ring the bell Friday night. There were plenty of high-fives though.

The Lynx rushed for 395 yards and limited Charles City to just 98 yards on the ground, resulting in a statement-made 33-12 rout over the Comets in a clash of teams that took the field tied for second-place in Class 3A District 2.

Webster City (5-2, 4-1 District 2) now sits all alone right behind district leader and second-ranked Clear Lake (7-0, 5-0) with two weeks remaining in the regular season. The Lynx improved to 4-0 on the road this season and assured themselves of their first winning regular season since 2001.

And the postseason? One more win and that's in the bag too.

"We knew the stakes were high for this game, so we just had to come out and perform," Webster City tailback John Hill said after rambling for a game-high 163 yards and three touchdowns on 25 carries Friday night. "We wanted to come out and make a statement and we did that."

The biggest statement was actually made on Webster City's second play of the game. Spinback Brent Nelson faked the handoff to Hill on his spin and then took off right up the middle. Guard Ryan Vande Zande trap blocked on the play and opened a hole big enough for a truck. Nelson went 66 yards untouched to the end zone and it was all downhill from there.

Nelson ran for a career-high 155 yards on just 11 totes.

"We thought we could trap (block) because (Charles City) hadn't seen us do that too much," Webster City head coach Bob Howard said. "We spent more time on that during the week because we figured they'd load up on Hill, and Nelson's getting better every week."

So good was Webster City's running game that Howard called just three pass plays all game. Nelson completed 1 of 2 throws for 12 yards and Ross Haren connected on a halfback pass for 31 yards.

Charles City (5-2, 3-2 District 2) was forced to go to the air early and often. The Comets abandoned the run midway through the first half after falling behind 14-0 and quarterback Josh Becker ended up tossing 33 passes. He completed 15 of them for 174 yards, but all Charles City had to show for it were a pair of long field goals - the first from 45 yards in the second quarter and the second a 42-yarder late in the fourth quarter - from Bastian Metzdorf.

"It was definitely our goal to take away the running game," Vande Zande said after collecting four tackles from his linebacker position. "We wanted to make their quarterback have to pass and we did that, so it was great. Guys were just making plays all over the place."

Fellow linebackers Tyler Mosbach and Haren were in on 7 1/2 and seven tackles, respectively. They along with Vande Zande were big reasons why Comets' tailback Isaac Poolman was a non-factor most of the night. Poolman carried the ball just nine times for 61 yards.

"We really shut them down defensively, which I thought was huge," Howard said. "That was our best defensive ballgame so far against a physical and fast team."

Up 14-3 at the half, Webster City appeared primed to land the knockout blow on its first drive of the third quarter. Nelson broke free on a 37-yard run on the opening play and the Lynx moved all the way to the Charles City 14.

But a fumble by Nelson popped right into the arms of Comets' defensive back Justin DeBower and DeBower went 86 yards the other way for a touchdown to cut the Lynx lead to 14-9.

Just like that, it was a whole new game.

But rather than wilt, the Lynx thrived. They took their ensuing possession 78 yards on seven plays, highlighted by a 54-yard jaunt by Hill, to the end zone to reestablish control with 7:05 to go in the third quarter. Hill capped it off with his second TD from 2 yards out.

"The drive after the fumble was huge," Hill, who also plunged across the goal line from 1 yard away in the first half, said. "They caught a huge break and that happens in games, but we were confident that we could drive the ball on them and that's what we did."

Webster City caught its own break just minutes later when Nate Treibel stripped Poolman of the ball, resulting in a turnover. Treibel also caught the halfback pass from Haren moments later and that set up Kevin Kannuan's 17-yard touchdown scamper through the middle of the line for a 26-9 advantage.

Treibel made his presence known on special teams as well. He nearly broke off his third punt return for a touchdown this season, but settled for a 40-yard return to the Comets' 7-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Hill ensured that it wouldn't be for nothing, as three plays later he sprinted around the right end for a 1-yard TD run - his third of the night.

"Offense, defense and special teams, we won all three phases of the game," Hill said.

Webster City held the ball for 29 minutes 34 seconds, an advantage of more than 11 minutes. Howard says that credit goes to the offensive line for controlling the line of scrimmage throughout the contest.

"The offensive line is getting to the point where they ought to be," he said. "(Charles City) was bigger and more physical, but we controlled the line of scrimmage.

"(Friday night) was more single wing. That's how I'm used to it running and that's because of the line."

Hill got a first-hand look at the play of his line and he was impressed.

"Our offensive line played stellar," he said. "We know we can move the ball on anybody because our line just opens up huge holes and that gives us a lot of confidence."

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