In football, it’s critical to finish what you started.
From the start, it was evident to Sigourney-Keota head coach Jared Jensen who came ready to win the latest edition of the “backyard brawl” with 10th-ranked (A) Pekin.
“We didn’t come ready to play and (Pekin) did,” Jensen said. “(Pekin) came ready to win. There was nothing else they were going to walk away from here with.”
The Panthers didn’t put up the same first-quarter fireworks on Friday they did with six opening-period scores in an 88-6 win over New London last week. Pekin’s start against S-K was good enough to stake the Panthers to a 19-0 lead with three first-quarter touchdowns paving the way to an impressive 25-13 win at S-K that tilted the Keokuk County rivarly in the Panthers’ favor.
“We talked all week as coaching staff with the kids about being ready to battle for a full 48 minutes and maybe even some after that,” Panthers head coach Joe Donovan said. “I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches for relaying the message to the kids and I commend our kids for responding to that challenge.”
After owning the recent history of the series, S-K couldn’t keep Pekin from taking control of the rivalry’s most recent installment from the very start.
“Maybe our guys took this for granted since we’ve won the last four years, but our kids need to realize that they weren’t thinking that way,” Jensen said. “Pekin came ready to roll and we got dominanted in the first half plain and simple.”
Aside from penalities, Pekin’s offense moved in one direction for much of the first half - toward the end zone. The Panthers didn’t have an offensive play that lost yardage in the first quarter, taking each of their first three drives in for scoring runs.
Quarterback Graham Wittrock finished off the first drive, showing an ability to improvise that came in handy as the night progressed. The Panther senior signal-caller scrammbled in for a nine-yard touchdown run to cap Pekin’s first drive.
“I knew I had to take some of the pressure off (starting running back Quentin Garrels). I knew they’d be keying on him all night,” Wittrock said. “I took the opportunity to take some of that pressure off when I had a chance.”
Garrels capped Pekin’s second drive with a seven-yard run late in the opening quarter coming after Brody Long’s blocked punt gave Pekin a short field. Wittrock added his second touchdown on a 27-yard scammper down the sideline one play after Nazareth Rambo recovered an S-K fumble.
“I think the kids had a lot of confidence that we could score fast. When we blocked that punt, that really started to get us on a roll,” Donovan said.
S-K finally stemmed the tide in the second quarter, stopping Pekin twice — including blocking a punt of their own. Ironically, the single-wing rushing attack of the Savage Cobras also set up Luke Lyle to connect on a pair of touchdown throws to Derek Berg and Peyton Crawford to get S-K back within 19-13 late in the third quarter.
“We told the guys they had to start making some plays. The guys finally dug down to make them,” Jensen said. “There were just too many missed tackles, too many missed plays throughout.”
Pekin went back to the ground to move down the field and work much of the fourth quarter clock down, but missed out on a fourth-down touchdown pass that was dropped in the endzone. S-K’s first chance of the night to tie, or take the lead, ended one play later as a Lyle pass was intercepted by Tayte Schoff.
Wittrock and Garrels then put the win away. The Pekin quarterback picked up two key first downs with scrammble runs down the sideline while Garrels finished off a 182-yard rushing night with his second touchdown of the game and eighth of the season with just over a minute left.
“I saw Petie (Clubb) get hung up over the middle on one of those runs and knew I had to try to pick up the first down myself,” Wittrock said. “I just got to the sideline and tried to stay in bounds to keep the clock moving.”
“We lost our focus a little bit midway through the game, but we just calmed everything down and got back to executing,” Garrels added.
Simple execution was also what Jensen saw as the difference in the contest for S-K, who falls to 1-1 heading into next Friday’s Class 1A, District 6 opener at Wilton.
“That were just breakdowns all over the field,” Jensen said. “That’s probably the worst game I’ve seen us play in the two years I’ve been here. We’ve got to be ready to go next week. If we’re not, this is going to be a long season.”
No. 10 (A) Pekin, meanwhile, takes a 2-0 record and plenty of confidence into their Class A, District 6 opener against formally top-ranked Lynnville-Sully next week at Tom Stone Field.
“I told the guys all night to focus on what they want. What they wanted was to win the game. That’s what we did,” Donovan said.
No. 10 (A) Pekin 25, Sigourney-Keota 13
Pekin 19 0 0 6 — 25
S-K 0 6 7 0 — 13
Scoring By Quarters
P — Graham Wittrock 9 yard run (kick failed), 7:20
P — Quinten Garrels 7 yard run (Bryan Brain kick), 3:36
P — Wittrock 27 yard run (kick failed), 1:49
SK — Derek Berg 16 yard pass from Luke Lyle (kick failed), :59
SK — Peyton Crawford 17 yard pass from Lyle (Alex Stuhr kick), 1:54
P — Garrels 3 yard run (pass failed), 1:05
First downs 19 15
Rushes-yards 48-240 42-214
Passing yards 71 57
Total Yards 311 271
Comp-Att-Int 4-10-0 5-10-1
Return Yards 2-25 4-62
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 5-2
Penalties-Yds 12-57 9-64
RUSHING — Quentin Garrels 33-182 yards (2 td, fumble), Graham Wittrock 10-50 yards (2 td), Petie Clubb 5-8 yards.
PASSING — Wittrock 4-10, 71 yards.
RECEIVING — Clubb 3-43 yards, Cade Millikin 1-38 yards.
INTERCEPTIONS — Tayte Schroff 1-0 yards.
TACKLES — Nazareth Rambo 12 (two fumble recoveries), Jared Bond 10 (2 sacks), Clubb 7, Brody Long 7 (blocked punt), Eric Adam 6, Seth Jensen 5, Eli Harper 5, Trenton Conger 4, Thomas Slaney 4, Tanner Adam 2, Lane Cox, Garrels, Wyatt Loper, Cole Reighard, Jacob Salisbury.
RUSHING — Derek Berg 10-76 yards (fumble), Kolton Greiner 14-59 yards, Cole Streigle 9-49 yards, Luke Lyle 6-32 yards, Chase Tremmel 1-6 yards, Isiah Hahn 1-0 yards, Peyton Crawford 1-(-8) yards.
PASSING — L. Lyle 5-8, 57 yards (2 td, int), Greiner 0-1, 0 yards, Blaine Gretter 0-1, 0 yards.
RECEIVING — Streigle 1-23 yards, Crawford 1-17 yards (td), Berg 1-16 yards (td), Kyle Ferree 2-1 yard.
TACKLES — Crawford 6 (sack, blocked punt), Ferree 5, Berg 4, Nate Owen 4 (fumble recovery), Alex Stuhr 4, Wes Yoder 4 (sack), Dallas Clubb 3, Jackson Davis 3 (sack), Tremmel 3, Tucker Fowler 2, Greiner 2, Hahn 2, Ethan Lyle 2, L. Lyle 2, Sam Ollinger 2, Streigle 2, Derek Albert, Lane Boender, Jeremiah Green, Colton Schwenke, Matthew Slaughter.
In football, it’s critical to finish what you started.
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