Chickasaws top Comets 15-8
By John Burbridge
NEW HAMPTON — Going by real estate alone, Charles City won the ground battle over New Hampton during Friday’s season opener with the Comets churning out 194 rushing yards (5.1 ypc) to the Chickasaws’ 147 (4.7 ypc) — 95 of Charles City’s total came from Trever Heitz, who passed Taylor Fiser as the Comets’ all-time leading rusher.
Charles City also won the “deep” red-zone battle with the Comets’ defense turning away the Chickasaws when the latter had a first-and-goal opportunity at the 6-yard line midway through a scoreless first quarter. Conversely, when the Comets eventually breached the Chickasaws’ 10 in the fourth quarter, they were able to punch it in to stay in the game.
But the Comets’ didn’t win the turnover battle, and that in part cost them the whole battle as the hosting Chickasaws won 15-8 in the teams’ annual non-district matchup.
“It’s the same old story for too long,” Charles City coach Darren Bohlen said after his team squandered several promising drives with three lost fumbles.
“It’s frustrating,” Bohlen said. “We thought we fixed the problem, but we didn’t tonight.”
The Chickasaws have a knack at stripping the ball from stood-up carriers fighting for extra yards, much like the Lovie Smith playoff-bound Bears used to do acting like mugger-thieves working in tandem.
Thanks to several solo stops by junior two-way lineman Chase Crooks, the Comets were able to avert the Chickasaws’ threat within the shadow of the Comets’ goal line. That helped keep New Hampton off the board in the first half as — with a scoreless tie at halftime — it was still anyone’s game going into the second half.
With New Hampton receiving the second-half kickoff, it promptly went on a 59-yard drive capped with Chickasaw quarterback leading Nathan O’Donnell down the sidelines for a 31-yard TD pass that — with an Ivan Camarillo PAT kick — put NH up 7-0.
Early in the fourth quarter, New Hampton increased its lead to 15-0 shortly after Rochford hit Drake Wemark on a slant pattern with Wemark cutting back against the grain and out-racing the Comet defenders to the end zone for a 35-yard catch-and-run score.
Charles City was penalized during the subsequent missed PAT kick. With the ball moved up half the distance from the goal line, New Hampton opted to run it in and succeeded with Ryan Pickar finding a way around the end.
Taking advantage of near-midfield position thanks to Heitz fielding a short kickoff from his wedge spot and advancing it up the gut of the coverage, Charles City was able to get on the scoreboard for the first time this season.
Heitz capped the drive with a 3-yard run on a fourth-and-goal snap. Heitz later scored the subsequent 2-point conversion thanks to a push from his teammates keeping the Comets one possession away from tying or going ahead.
Charles City did get the ball back in the waning seconds, but Wemark prevented any fantastic finish when he intercepted Alec Staudt’s pass as time expired.
Rochford completed 10 of 19 pass attempts for 131 yards and the two TD’s. He was intercepted once in the first half by Charles City junior Tino Tamayo, who made a leaping snare while fighting off blockers at the line of scrimmage.
Chickasaw senior Carter Ferrie led all rushers with 123 yards on 24 carries.
Charles City also got ground production from Jeremiah Chapman, who had 58 yards on 11 carries, and by Staudt, who rushed for 36 yards on six carries.
Staudt also completed 4 of 7 passes for 87 yards — all of them to junior Ian Collins.
Collins, who led the team in receiving and TDs last year, sustained an leg injury during the second half and didn’t return in the game.
“We don’t know the extent of his injury yet,” Bohlen said after the game while Collins, with an ice pack wrapped around his lower right leg near the knee, needed help off the field.
This Friday (Sept. 4), Charles City will host Union Community at Comet Field. The Knights lost their opener to Oelwein 30-16.
NEW HAMPTON 15, CHARLES CITY 8
Scoring By Quarters
CC 0 0 0 8 — 8
NH 0 0 7 8 — 15
NH — Nathan O’Donnell 31-yard pass from Connor Rochford (Ivan Camarillo kick) 9:15 3rd, 7-0
NH — Drake Wemark 35-yard pass from Rochford (Ryan Pickar run) 9:36 4th, 15-0
CC — Trever Heitz 3-yard run (Heitz run) 5:26 4th, 15-8