Comets rebound from sluggish first half to defeat Chickasaws 14-8
By John Burbridge
NEW HAMPTON — During the first half of Charles City’s road football game against New Hampton, the Comets appeared to be lost in a haze.
Not a purple one; rather a yellow one.
Charles City was flagged repeatedly, once during a would-be spectacular touchdown run by quarterback Ian Collins, and five times during a single possession.
But with the night’s fog growing thicker as the game progressed, the Comets eventually emerged from this haze in the second half for a come-from-behind 14-8 non-district victory.
Though not as pretty as the 34-0 thumping of Oelwein in the season-opener the week before, this Comet win may have been more impressive when considering the grit needed to pull it off.
After a scoreless first half, the Chickasaws received the kickoff — and after moving the chains once for a new set of downs — were faced with a third-and-12 at their own 34-yard line.
That’s when NH quarterback Mason Lane hit Drake Wemark on a crossing pattern. Wemark managed to slip free of several would-be tacklers before out-racing the rest of the Comets’ defense to the end zone for a 66-yard catch-and-run TD.
With a subsequent Branden McShane conversion run, the Chickasaws went up 8-0.
But the Comets were quick to respond on the way to scoring 14 unanswered points that included a pair of touchdowns on fourth-down snaps.
Mario Hoefer returned the ensuing kickoff after the NH scoring drive past midfield. Then with a couple of big running gains by senior Colton Crooks, the Comets advanced to the Chickasaw 3. Crooks later got the call on a sweep and appeared to have a lane to score only to slip on the wet grass. But on a fourth-and-goal call, Collins scored on a naked bootleg. That got Charles City on the board, but the subsequent conversion pass attempt failed as the Chickasaws still clung to a 2-point (8-6) lead.
More than midway through the fourth quarter, Charles City was faced with a fourth-and-9 call at the NH 27-yard line. A stop here could have been the tonic the Chickasaws needed to eventually escape with a victory — but this is where the Comets’ athleticism came through in the clutch.
After eluding several pass rushers, Collins was able to get the ball downfield in the vicinity of Hoefer, who managed to out-jump NH’s Brady Speltz for the ball at about the 12 before shaking free of the defender and taking the rest of the play into the end zone.
Crooks’s 2-point conversion run capped the scoring.
The Collins-to-Hoefer scoring play was the third time the pair hooked up for TDs this season. Collins, who had an interception during a stint on defense late in the game to help seal the victory, led all rushers with 95 yards on 10 carries.
Crooks, who also helped seal the game with a pair of first-down runs to keep the chains moving and the clock moving in the final minutes, had 81 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Charles City’s defense had another outstanding game as nearly half of the Chickasaws’ 135 yards of total offense came on the Lane-to-Wemark TD play.
Chase Crooks, Ethan Peterson, Trevor Peterson, Jonathan Stewart and Tino Tamayo were all credited with tackles for losses for the Comets.
Tamayo also averaged 37 yards on both of his fair-caught punts. But during one punting situation in the first half, Tamayo muffed a long snap before having the presence of mind to pick it up and run for a first down.
Not so fast.
Granted, the Comets were guilty as charged on most of the penalties called against them in the first half. But somehow Tamayo was flagged for a block in the back in the process of picking up the ball and running with it.
Must not have seen that through the fog.
The Comets will travel to Mason City next Friday (Sept. 10). The Mohawks, for whom Charles City head coach Bryan Bjorklund served as an assistant coach, are still looking for their first win of the season after losses to Fort Dodge (28-13) and Spencer (41-8).
Charles City will have the chance to start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2008 — also the last time CC started 2-0.
CHARLES CITY 14, NEW HAMPTON 8
Scoring By Quarters
CHARLES CITY 0 0 6 8 — 14
NEW HAMPTON 0 0 8 0 — 8
NH — Drake Wemark 66-yard pass from Mason Lane (Branden McShane run) 9:18 3rd, 8-0
CC — Ian Collins 3-yard run (Pass failed) 5:59 3rd, 8-6
CC — Mario Hoefer 27-yard pass from Collins (Colton Crooks run) 6:50 4th, 14-6
RECORDS — Charles City 2-0; New Hampton 0-2
PASSING LEADERS — (Charles City) Ian Collins 5-12 46 yards, TD, INT; (New Hampton) Mason Lane 4-16 77 yards, TD, INT.
RUSHING LEADERS — (Charles City) Collins 10-95, TD; Colton Crooks 17-81; Trimel Christian 4-15; Isaiah Roe 5-11; Mario Hoefer 1-3; (New Hampton) Braden McShane 14-49; Isaac Howe 4-7; Lane 1-2.
RECEIVING LEADERS — (Charles City) Hoefer 2-29, TD; Jalil Jones 3-17; (New Hampton) Drake Wemark 3-77, TD; McShane 1-0.
TACKLE LEADERS — (Charles City) Kayden Blunt 4.5 total, 4 solo; Trevor Peterson 4 total, 4 solo, 1 TFL; Chase Crooks 2 solo, 1 TFL; Tino Tamayo 2 solo, 1.5 TFL; Jonathan Stewart, 3 solo, 1 TFL; Ethan Peterson 0.5 TFL; (New Hampton) Howe 8 total, 3 solo; McShane 7.5 total, 5 solo, 1 TFL; Ben Tenge 6.5 total, 2 TFL.