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|9/12/2012 ||Email this article Print this article |
Central defense does the job in big rivalry win
|Members of the Central football team run to the sideline victorious as the final seconds tick off Friday night’s victory over Maquoketa. The story of the game was the Central defense which held the rival Cardinals to just 112 yards of total offense, while also holding them to just a field goal on three trips inside the red zone during the second half of a 14-10 win. Photos by Ross Eberhart|
|Central junior Jake Feldpausch wraps up the West Delaware quarterback during the Sabers’ game with the Hawks. Feldpausch scored the winning touchdown in Friday night’s game with rival Maquoketa, taking a pitch 78 yards for the score. Just behind Feldpausch is teammate A.J. Smith, who had his own strong game against the Cardinals with eight tackles, including four instances where he got to the Maquoketa quarterback.|
By Ross Eberhart
Already the story through three quarters of the Central football team's district opener with Maquoketa, the Saber defense topped even itself during the final quarter of Friday's game.
Each of Cardinals' final three offensive drives spent time inside the Central 20-yard line with two moving inside the 10. Every single one, though, ended without a touchdown as the Saber defense wrapped up an incredible night in a 14-10 victory that acted as the district opener for both teams.
"They had their backs against the wall three different times and each time they fought back," said Central head coach Mike Miller who earned his first victory with the Sabers. "It was a big, big effort."
And one that lasted the entire game as the Central defense held Maquoketa to just eight first downs and 112 yards of total offense. The Cardinals averaged just 2.4 yards per carry and finished the game with only 39 passing yards.
"It was a huge performance," Miller said of his defense. "One that we needed on a confidence level and one I knew our guys were capable of."
The defense saved its best for last in the game, holding Maquoketa to just three points in its three trips inside the red zone.
The Sabers held a 14-7 lead with just over three minutes left in the third quarter when Maquoketa blocked a James Grell punt to put itself in business at the Central 24.
Maquoketa went backwards on its first two plays as the Cardinals were called for illegal procedure on first down and then stopped for a loss.
An incomplete pass set up a 3rd-and-17 at the 31-yard line, but Maquoketa got a 13-yard gain from Josh Kirk on a run and then converted on fourth down with quarterback Trent Bollman keeping the ball for an 8-yard run to the Saber 10.
The drive ended a play later, as Bollman attempted a short pass that was intercepted by Austin Lechtenberg.
Keeping the ball on the ground, the Sabers bled out the rest of the time in the third quarter, but also went three-and-out and were forced to punt the ball back to the Cardinals.
After a nice return, Maquoketa started its next drive on the Saber 34 and in three plays was on the 15.
Bollman kept the ball for a 10-yard gain to the five to set up first-and-goal and Kirk put the Cardinals just a yard away from a tying touchdown.
The ensuing shotgun snap on second down, though, got away from Bollman and the Cardinals lost four yards on the recovery.
A third-down pass from Bollman fell incomplete and the Cardinals elected to kick a field goal on fourth down. The attempt was good and it was 14-10.
The Sabers picked up a first down on its next drive, but then went backward on three-straight plays and were forced to punt again.
This time Cardinal returner, Ben Strathman, returned the ball all the way to the Saber 14-yard line with 5:30 remaining in the game.
Kirk was stopped for a loss on first down and Strathman picked up just three yards on a reception on second down to set up a 3rd-and-8 at the 12.
Maquoketa tried to catch Central off guard with a run, but defensive linemen Drew Volrath and Riley McDowell had nothing of it and stopped Kirk behind the line for a four-yard loss.
Forced to the air, Bollman fired a strike to the end zone on fourth down, but the ball was knocked away from Jake Kagemann to give Central the ball with less than three minutes remaining.
Mitch Green kept the ball on first down for five yards and fullback Chris Keitel picked up a big first down moments later.
Now the Cardinals were forced to call their timeouts after every Saber run. Central faced a 3rd and 15 from their own 21, but instead of running the ball one final time the Sabers went for a pass and the win.
Green rolled out and found Keitel, who did the rest, rumbling 29 yards to midfield for the deciding first down. Three handoffs to Keitel followed and Central ticked off the final 1:18 to secure the win and set off a huge celebration from players and fans alike.
The game started as a defensive struggle. Maquoketa possessed the ball first and picked up one first down before turning the ball over on downs.
The Saber' first drive ended the same way after two first downs had moved the ball inside Maquoketa territory.
The Cardinals punted on its next drive, but got the ball back five plays later when the Sabers' lost a fumble.
Maquoketa, though, did not get very far until it committed its own turnover on the first play of the second quarter as Kagemann stepped in front of a Bollman pass and returned it to near midfield.
The Sabers took advantage of the turnover as Lechtenberg and Jake Feldpausch both picked up first downs to move the ball into the red zone and Lechtenberg finished off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown. Patrick Haller added the extra point and it was 7-0 Sabers.
That proved to be all of the scoring in the first half as the next three drives all ended in punts and Central went into halftime holding a 7-0 lead.
The second half started slow as well. Central received the ball first in the third quarter and went three-and-out.
Maquoketa's next drive was not much better as the Cardinals gained just nine yards and turned the ball over on downs.
Things picked up on the Sabers' next drive, but not in a good way for Central as Maquoketa's Jeb Miller intercepted a Green option pitch and took it back the other way for a touchdown. The extra point was good and suddenly the score was tied.
It did not stay tied for long. On Central's very first offensive play after the turnover, the Sabers went back to the option again and Green pitched the ball to Feldpausch, who broke a tackle and then sprinted down the sideline for a 78-yard touchdown run that put Central back in front. Haller added the extra point and it was 14-7 Sabers.
The Sabers would not record a first down again until their second-to-last drive, but with the play of the Central defense that was perfectly fine.
Leading the effort for the Sabers was the Central defensive line. Cameron Donovan led the team with nine tackles including three solo stops, while both A.J. Smith and Volrath had eight tackles.
Smith, in particular, terrorized Bollman all night, getting to the Maquoketa quarterback four different times (once on his own and once each with teammates Keitel, Donovan and Volrath).
Feldpausch had just two carries on the night, but still led the Sabers with 95 yards on the ground to go with the winning touchdown. Keitel added 71, while Lechtenberg had 66 and Green 51.
Four different Sabers - Lechtenberg, Lucas Sheppard, Mitch Kirby and Keitel - had catches from Green during the game.
Central goes right from one big game to another as the Sabers get ready for homecoming and a visit from Benton.
The Bobcats are 0-3 and coming off a loss their district opener to Clear Creek-Amana. It will be the first meeting between the two teams since 2009 when the Bobcats brought home a 20-12 victory.
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