MAQUOKETA — One long drive gave the Central DeWitt football team the lead during Friday’s rivalry game with Maquoketa.
But one quick turn of events made the advantage short-lived.
The Sabers marched 96 yards in 15 plays, taking nearly six minutes off the clock in the process, to strike first.
The Cardinals, however, answered with their own long touchdown drive.
The score was the start of a scoring spree for the hosts, who added a safety and a second touchdown in short order, giving Maquoketa 16 points in the span of 67 seconds.
The Cardinals rode that momentum the rest of the way, adding two more touchdowns in the second half to pull away for a 29-7 victory.
Both teams threatened early. The Sabers moved the ball to the Maquoketa 31 on their first drive before turning the ball over on downs.
The Cardinals, in turn, advanced just outside the Central red zone before senior Logan Paulsen intercepted a Kannon Coakley pass deep in Sabers territory.
Starting on their own four-yard line, the Sabers actually went backward on their first play, thanks to a penalty, moving them back to the two.
Senior Caleb Pace, though, turned back-to-back carries into nine yards and junior quarterback John McConohy — who stepped in for injured week one starter Henry Bloom — converted a third-and-three with a seven-yard run.
Two plays later, McConohy found senior Tucker Kinney for a reception, which, coupled with a Maquoketa penalty, moved the ball close to midfield.
The Sabers were not done. McConohy found Paulsen for another first down, while senior Zach Hinkle picked up two more firsts on the ground.
The latter conversion on third-and-two moved the ball all the way to the Maquoketa five-yard line, and, a play later, McConohy finished the drive with a touchdown run. Landon Peterson added the extra point and it was 7-0 early in the second quarter.
The Cardinals matched Central’s long possession, converting three different third downs as part of an 18-play drive.
The Sabers did force a fumble deep in their own territory, but Maquoketa was able to fall on the ball and scored two plays later to knot things up.
That is when things went sideways for Central.
The ensuing kickoff hugged the sideline, but never went out of bounds, forcing Central to grab the free ball at its own two-yard line.
Maquoketa took advantage, stopping McConohy in the end zone for a safety.
Not only did the Cardinals take the lead with two points, they also got the ball back on a free kick.
Four plays into their new drive, Coakley found Connor Becker for a 30-yard touchdown. Becker added the extra point as well and the Sabers’ lead had turned into a 16-7 deficit at the half.
Central got the ball first in the second half and moved into Maquoketa territory on a 34-yard Pace reception, but the Cardinals extinguished the threat with an interception.
The Sabers’ next drive ended with a turnover as well, helping the Cardinals flip field position.
Now, starting deep in their own territory Central was unable to pick up a first down and a short punt gave the Cardinals a first down on the Sabers’ 29.
The hosts took advantage, using a Central penalty to pick up a third down and then scoring on a nine-yard touchdown pass.
Needing a spark, the Sabers turned to Bloom, and the junior responded with a 34-yard pass to Paulsen on the first play of Central’s ensuing drive.
Another completion to Paulsen — this one for 10 yards — moved the Sabers to the Maquoketa 30-yard line, but four more passes fell incomplete, giving the Cardinals the ball back.
Maquoketa did not waste time as Coakley sprinted 63 yards for the game’s final touchdown.
McConohy returned under center for the Sabers’ final two drives and finished with five completions for 69 yards, while also picking up a team-high 62 yards on the ground with a touchdown.
Bloom added 44 yards on his two completions to Paulsen, who led the Sabers with three receptions for 58 yards.
Hinkle added 47 yards rushing, but was forced out in the second half due to injury. Pace had 43 total yards — 34 through the air — while Kinney caught a pair of passes.
Senior Ethan Pierce led the way on defense with 11 tackles, including nine solo stops.
Both Hinkle and Kinney had seven tackles — the former had six solo tackles and a tackle for loss — while Kaden Schnede had six stops, half of them solo.
Paulsen recorded an interception with Jack Davison joining Hinkle with a tackle for loss.
The Sabers look to get back on track with a big homecoming contest this Friday against Dubuque Wahlert.
Winless last fall, the Golden Eagles opened their season with a 17-15 victory over West Delaware, but fell this past Friday to Davenport Assumption, 42-7.
After throwing 325 passes a year ago — the only 3A team to have more than 300 attempts, Wahlert has run the ball 81 times in its first two games compared to 31 passes.
Maquoketa 29, Central DeWitt 7
Central DeWitt 0 7 0 0 7
Maquoketa 0 16 0 13 29
Team Stats Central Maquoketa
First Downs 13 16
Rushing Att. 27 46
Rushing Yards 115 243
Passing 7-22 7-10
Completion % 32% 70%
Passing Yards 113 71
Total Offense 228 314
Turnovers 3 1
Penalties 7-40 7-64
Passing – Henry Bloom, 2-6, 44 yards; John McConohy, 5-16, 69 yards.
Rushing – Zach Hinkle, 9-47; Sean Kinney, 2-7; Sean McNamara, 1-(-1); McConohy, 9-60, one touchdown; Caleb Pace, 2-9.
Receiving – Tucker Kinney, 2-18; McNamara, 1-3; Pace, 1-34; Logan Paulsen, 3-58.
Tackles – Quinton Buckner, one solo; Jack Davison, two solo; Jeff Fuller, one solo; Hinkle, seven (one solo); Boomer Johnson, one solo; S. Kinney, two (one solo); T. Kinney, seven (five solo); Lane Krukow, one solo; Cole Miller, three (one solo); Pace, two (one solo); Paulsen, four (three solo), one interception; Ethan Pierce, 11 (nine solo); Matthew Roling, three (two solo); Garrett Sailor, three solo; Connor Scheer, three (one solo); Kaden Schnede, six (three solo).