During different stretches of the game, the Central DeWitt football team showed it could go toe-to-toe with North Scott in Friday’s district opener.
But miscues and missed opportunities prevented the Sabers from coming up with an upset of the eighth-ranked Lancers.
Central committed the game’s only two turnovers and had a third drive derailed by a penalty, and North Scott scored after all three blunders to help hand the Sabers a 35-7 setback.
The Sabers moved the ball early, picking up a pair of first downs on the game’s first drive before being forced to punt the ball away.
On its first play, North Scott used a 39-yard pass with a 15-yard penalty tacked on to move the ball all the way to the Sabers’ 20-yard line.
The Lancers, however, ran into their own penalty problems and a sack by junior Tucker Kinney set up an eventual 2nd-and-35 situation that the visitors were unable to convert.
Central forced a fourth down on North Scott’s next drive as well, but the Lancers were able to convert the fourth-and-one and then scored a play later to take a 7-0 lead with less than a minute to go in the first half.
Seconds later, the Lancers had the ball back again.
On the first play of the Sabers’ ensuing drive, quarterback Drew Kueter and fullback Easton Necker were unable to make a clean exchange of the handoff, leading to a fumble that was recovered by North Scott.
Instead of having an opportunity to answer the Lancers’ opening touchdown, the Sabers went back on defense and North Scott made the turnover really hurt, completing a 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth down to make it 14-0.
After the two teams traded empty possessions, the Sabers got their offense rolling again.
Starting on its own 32-yard line, Central marched 42 yards into North Scott territory as Necker and Devin Hurdle both had first-down runs.
The Sabers made it as far as the Lancers’ 26 when a false start moved Central backward.
The penalty was followed by a sack of Kueter and the once-promising drive ended with a punt on fourth-and-19.
Just as they did with the fumble, the Lancers made sure the Sabers paid for their missed opportunity.
They drove 69 yards the other way and scored just before halftime to push the lead to 21-0 at the break.
Another North Scott touchdown drive to start the third quarter – the Lancers converted three different third downs – made it 28-0, and that remained the score when the Sabers’ offense produced its best drive of the game.
Necker set the tone with an 11-yard gain on the very first play and senior Drew Eden converted a big fourth down with a 15-yard reception to the 16-yard line.
Necker got the Sabers even closer when he converted a third-and-short situation and Hurdle finished off the drive with a two-yard touchdown to make it 28-7.
The Sabers defense, in turn, forced a punt on the Lancers’ next drive to give its offense the ball back.
North Scott, though, tacked on a final touchdown, thanks to the Sabers’ second turnover as Carson Rollinger intercepted a Kueter pass along the sideline and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown – it was the Lancers’ ninth interception of the season, good for fourth in Class 3A.
The Lancers paid plenty of attention to Necker, who entered the contest as the class’s leading rusher, but that opened things up for Hurdle, who gained a career-high 80 yards on 15 carries and scored the Sabers’ touchdown.
Necker added 64 hard-earned yards and Central picked up 44 yards through the air, including 33 combined yards from Eden and Zach Hinkle.
Kinney and fellow junior Matt Roling led the Sabers defense with nine tackles apiece. The former had seven solo stops and a sack, while the latter added six solo tackles.
Ethan Pierce had eight tackles for the Sabers, while Abram Dierickx chipped in six.
The Sabers will look to rebound in a Thursday trip to Davenport Assumption.
The Knights had dropped their final two non-district games to highly-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier and Solon squads by a combined score of 95-7, but rolled to a 40-7 road victory over Clinton in their district opener.
Assumption lost a pair of 1,000-yard rushers from last year’s state quarterfinal team and are led by dual threat quarterback Brandon Schlichting, who leads the team in both passing (695) and rushing (198) yards.
This is the second straight Thursday night meeting between the two teams and will be Central’s third Thursday game in as many years. The Sabers split the first two, knocking off Northeast in the Ag Bowl in 2016 and falling to the Knights last year.
North Scott 35, Central DeWitt 7
North Scott 7 14 7 7 35
Central DeWitt 0 0 0 7 7
Team Stats Central North Scott
First Downs 10 16
Rushing Att. 41 36
Rushing Yards 153 112
Passing 5-11 15-23
Completion % 45% 65%
Passing Yards 44 230
Total Offense 197 342
Turnovers 2 0
Penalties 6-40 7-65
Passing – Drew Kueter, 5-11, 44 yards.
Rushing – Luke Anderson, 5-14; Zach Hinkle, 1-(-2); Devin Hurdle, 15-80, one touchdown; Kueter, 3-(-3); Easton Necker, 17-64.
Receiving – Drew Eden, 1-15; Hinkle, 2-18; Hurdle, 1-2; Logan Paulsen, 1-9.
Tackles – Anderson,three (two solo); Abram Dierickx, six (five solo); Garrett Finley, one solo; Jeff Grau, two; Logan Henschel, one solo; Hinkle, one solo; Hurdle, two solo; Tucker Kinney, nine (seven solo), one sack; Lane Krukow, one solo; Brady Lawrence, two (one solo); Cole Miller, three (two solo); Caleb Pace, two solo; Paulsen, one solo; Brandt Petersen, five (three solo); Ethan Pierce, eight (five solo); Matt Roling,nine (six solo).