The week leading up to the game is filled with activities and events involving students and community. For many coaches it is a week of necessary distractions.
North Mahaska experienced all of those – and faced the No. 8 ranked Pekin Panthers. Pekin’s potent ground game was too much for the Warhawks and the Panthers won 53-16.
Pekin amassed 522 yards on the ground, but it was North Mahaska with the most memorable play. Trailing 13-0, North Mahaska’s junior Trent Wanders picked off a pass from Pekin’s Kolby Allsup and returned it 14 yards to midfield to set up the Warhawk scoring drive.
North Mahaska (2-4, 1-2) senior quarterback Justin Richards hooked up with junior Karrson Stodghill for a six-yard pass play after a loss to bring up a third down and seven.
Warhawks coach Steve Ehret dialed up his first gadget play of the year, a reverse flea-flicker. Richards tossed to Stodghill, sophomore Jakob Bortell received the ball from Stodghill on a reverse, and then pitched it back to Richards. Richards found senior Chase Koehler behind the defense and scored on the 47-yard play.
“It’s one of those plays you can only use once,” said Ehret. “We did a nice job of executing.”
Following the big play and kickoff, North Mahaska’s defense picked up the pressure and had the Panthers pinned back at their 27-yard line. Seniors Taylor Legvold and Brock Pollpeter put pressure on Pekin quarterback Allsup, and junior Bret Doty chased Allsup and he heaved a desperation shot down filed and Stodghill was there to snag the ball at the Pekin 35. A penalty pushed the Warhawks backwards and they could not score.
The Panthers scored a late touchdown to grab a 19-8 lead at halftime. In the third quarter, Pekin scored three offensive scores and returned a punt 37 yards for a score for a 46-8 advantage.
An eight-play drive from the third to fourth quarter resulted in another North Mahaska score. Stodghill rushed for 12 yards, but a sportsmanlike penalty added another 15 yards to his total. He rushed for another 11 to put the Warhawks near midfield.
Richards then went to the air hitting Wanders for 11, Koehler for 12 then hooking up with Stodghill on a 31-yard pass for the touchdown. Koehler grabbed the two-point score for North Mahaska’s final tally.
Richards finished the night 7-of-14 passing for 112 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Stodghill led the offense with 40 yards on 17 carries and three catches for 83 yards. Koehler had two catches for 28 yards, and Wanders and Bortell each had a reception.
Stodghill was also a key to the defense with nine tackles and an interception. Pollpeter had 11 tackles, Bortell nine and A.J. Hibler with eight. Wanders also grabbed an interception.
Pekin (4-1, 3-0) had three players rush for more than 100 yards. Chase Copeland had 180 yards on 20 carries to lead the way. Petie Clubb rushed 10 times for 146 and Allsup had 11 carries for 102.
North Mahaska will be on the road to top-ranked BGM on Friday.