PELLA — Two of the most storied football programs in Class 3A football in Iowa got together Friday night when the Harlan Cyclones blew into town to tangle with the Pella Little Dutch.
Anticipation was high on both sides of the field and the large crowd was treated to an intense battle on the turf.
The air was full of footballs as yardage on the ground was limited by rugged defensive line play. The two teams both went to the air often and Harlan threw the ball 27 times while Pella quarterback, Ryan Mace, launched 41 passes. Harlan scored all three of their touchdowns on long pass plays while Pella had a pair of long bombs for TD’s. Pella was trying to connect for the winning score in the final 30 seconds when a Harlan defensive back made a diving interception to secure the 21-18 victory.
Harlan won the toss and deferred to the second half. Pella took the opening kickoff and before the crowd got settled in, the Dutch set off some fireworks. On the first play from scrimmage, Mace found Nolan Clayberg knifing through the middle of the Cyclone defense and hit him on the numbers. Clayberg broke free and out ran the Harlan secondary to the goal line to complete and 85-yard scoring play. The PAT kick failed and Pella led 6–0 after 19 seconds of play.
It didn’t take long for the Cyclones to answer with a T-Bomb of their own. At the 7:22 mark of the first quarter, sophomore quarterback, Teagon Kasperbauer connected with Aiden Hall and Hall broke a couple of tackles on his way to a 65-yard jaunt to the end zone. The PAT kick by Ashton Lyon was good for a 7–6 Harlan lead.
The Little Dutch could not move the ball on the next series and punted the ball deep into Harlan territory. Once again Kasperbauer found Hall on the right sideline and Hall again broke away from the defense for an 89-yard sprint to pay dirt. Lyon’s kick was good and at the 5:11 mark of the opening quarter, the Cyclones had a 14–6 lead.
The rest of the first half was scoreless as both teams came up with crucial turnovers. The Dutch missed an opportunity to score late in the second quarter when a TD pass to Jason Knox was called back due to a holding penalty.
The third quarter opened with Harlan holding a precarious 14–6 lead. The battle raged on the carpet with neither team finding the end zone until only four seconds remained. Pella received a Harlan punt on their own 24 yard line and in three plays, they put six points on the board. Mace found Grant Nelson for 21 yards and a first down. Mace then ran for eight yards before hooking up with Knox for 47 yards and a TD. However, the two point conversion pass did not make connection and Pella trailed 14–12 going into the fourth quarter.
As the fourth quarter opened, the Cyclone combination of Kasperbauer to Hall inflicted damage. A 65-yard pass to Hall put the ball deep into Pella territory and two plays later, Kasperbauer hit Hall for eight yards and a score. The PAT kick was good for a 21–12 Harlan lead.
The determined Dutch dug in and Mace led his mates down the field on an 11-play drive that resulted in a seven-yard touchdown run by Nick DeJong. The two point conversion attempt failed and with 7:59 left in the game Pella trailed 21–18.
The two teams traded punts and with 2:53 left in the game the Little Dutch began a last ditch drive. Mace had a pair of first down passes to Josh Warner to get the ball to mid-field. Then the diving interception by a Cyclone defensive back brought the game to a close.
The teams had a high level of respect for each other after the game as several handshakes and hugs were traded at the final horn.
Mace connected on 16-of-41 pass attempts for 303 yards and he rushed for another 62 yards on 13 carries. Warner hauled in seven passes for 68 yards and Warner, Caleb Briggs and Reece Thoreson each snatched an interception. Nelson led the tackle charts with six solos and five assists.
“I felt that our kids competed very well”, Pella coach Jay McKinstrey said. “They raised their level of play. We had a hard time stopping their big plays, but we hit some big plays also. The bottom line is the missed opportunities. I really felt that the team effort was very good play after play.”
The Dutch hit the road Friday night for a short trip down the road to historic Ken Locke Stadium in Knoxville for an encounter with the Panthers. It will be two hungry teams that will be ready to get after it.
Harlan 14 0 0 7 - 21
Pella 6 0 6 6 - 18
P - 11:41 – Nolan Clayberg, 85 yard pass from Ryan Mace. PAT kick failed
H – 7:22 – Aidan Hall, 65 yard pass from Teagon Kasperbauer. PAT kick by Ashton Lyon
H – 5:11 – Hall, 89 yard pass from Kasperbauer. PAT kick by Lyon
P – Jason Knox, 47 yard pass from Mace. PAT pass failed
H – Hall, 8 yard pass from Kasperbauer. PAT kick by Lyon
P – Nick DeJong, 7 yard run. PAT run failed.
Pella individual stats:
Rushing (Carries/Yards) – Ryan Mace 13/62, Aiden Pollock 2/44, Nick DeJong 7/17, Nolan Clayberg 1/1.
Passing (Comp/Att/Yards) – Mace 16/41/303
Receiving (Catches/Yards) – Clayberg 1/85, Josh Warner 7/68, Knox 1/47, Preston Rowe 2/39, Reece Thoreson 2/33, Grant Nelson 3/31.
Tackles (Solo/Assist) – Nelson 6/5, Clayberg 4/2, Logan Baker 3/4, Rowe 4/2, Izaak LaHue 3/3, Levi Roose 3/3, Kody Huisman 2/4, Warner 2/2, Caleb Briggs 3/0, DeJong 0/4.
Interceptions – Warner, Briggs, Thoreson.
427 Total Offense 365
124 Rushing yards 16
303 Passing Yards 349
16/42/3 Passes (Comp/Att/Int) 16/27/3
6/46 Punts/Ave 8/34
8/80 Penalties/Yards 11/90