OELWEIN – Coming off a defeating performance a week ago in Camanche, the Independence Mustangs traveled 12 miles north to Oelwein to face off with the Huskies in the “The Battle of 150.” At the opening kickoff, the skies opened up and it poured and continued to rain the entire game. But the Mustangs also “poured it on” from the opening kickoff with a dominant performance on both sides of the ball.
“I thought the team had a good week of practice,” said Head Coach Justin Putz. “After Camanche, we felt we could have played better, and the guys were really motivated to make some improvements. As a coaching staff we did not have to do much to motivate them.”
Oelwein came into the game with Class 2A’s No. 2 leading rusher in senior Gage Voshell. Marcus Beatty was No. 3 in 2A. The Huskies rely heavily on their running game, throwing for just 60 yards through two games. In the wet weather and tough sledding, the Huskies were definitely going to put the bulk of the load on Voshell, and the Mustangs knew it.
“I thought the fact that we practiced in the rain Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday really prepared us for handling the wet football,” added Coach Putz. “I thought we did a good job all week, so I was not surprised we did a nice job in the elements on Friday for the most part.”
The Mustangs started on defense, where Oelwein went three and out after three straight runs by Voshell yielded 4 yards. After a 30-yard punt, the Mustangs took over at the Huskies’ 48-yard line and it took seven plays to get on the scoreboard when Mitch Johnson hit Marcus Beatty at the 35-yard line and he turned and went untouched down the right side. The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, and the Mustangs led 6-0 with 5:58 left in the first quarter.
Oelwein started their next drive from their own 20-yard line and, again, three straight runs from Voshell netted 3 yards, and Oelwein punted it away. The Mustangs started their drive from the Huskies’ 49 and, after a Beatty 5-yard run and a Keegan Schmitt 19-yard run, Beatty took a handoff off left guard and scampered 25 yards, pretty much untouched, for a Mustang touchdown with 2:28 to play in the first quarter. The 2-point conversion by Beatty was good and the Mustangs led, 14-0.
The Mustangs defense was terrific and continued to dominate the line of scrimmage. The Huskies could get nothing going against the defensive front line of the Mustangs, anchored by senior Justin Wood, junior Jake Sidles, sophomore Korver Hupke, and freshman Tono Cornell.
After a 3 and out again by the Huskies, we went to the second quarter and, with Oelwein forced to punt, the punter mishandled the snap. From my angle, the punt was partially blocked and the Mustangs took over on the Oelwein 42-yard line. Another misdirection run by Schmitt for 11 yards and a pass from Johnson to Schmitt for 15 yards took the ball down to the Huskies’ 15-yard line. But a mishandled snap forced Beatty to jump on the ball back at the 23-yard line and an incomplete pass on 4th down gave the ball back to the Huskies.
Oelwein managed one first down and on 4th and 3 from their own 37-yard line, they decided to take a chance and go for it, but the defense was ready and Voshell lost a yard and the Mustangs took over on the Huskies’ 36-yard line with 5:24 left in the half.
Mitch Johnson hit Koby Beatty down the left sideline for 28 yards and, even though Koby was interfered with, he still managed a great catch, taking the Mustangs down to the Huskies’ 13-yard line. A 2-yard run by Schmitt made it 2nd and 8 from the 11-yard line and on 2nd down, Marcus Beatty went off right tackle and dragged three defenders 7 yards into the end zone for a Mustang touchdown. The 2-point conversion was no good.
After the Huskies got nowhere on three plays, they again went for it on 4th and 4 from their own 37-yard line. Voshell was stood up by Hupke and, after a measurement, the Mustangs took over the ball on downs. A block in the back penalty backed the Mustangs up to their own 41 and after a nifty 14-yard run by Johnson, he coughed it up and Oelwein recovered and started a nice drive at Indee’s 45-yard line.
The Huskies would get down to the Mustangs’ 8-yard line, but with one second left on the clock, Sebetka sacked the Huskies’ quarterback and we would go into the half with the Mustangs leading, 20-0.
In these conditions, it was next to impossible to throw the ball, but Coach Putz was pleased with his passing game.
“I thought we did really well, especially in the first half,” said Coach Putz. “As the game went on, the field conditions deteriorated quite a bit and really limited what both teams could do.”
In the third quarter, the Mustangs’ offense stalled out, but the defense was solid and gave up zero first downs in three possessions by the Huskies. The score stayed the same going into the fourth.
Starting the fourth, Independence put together a nice seven-play drive, aided by a roughing the passer penalty and with 9:07 to play, Marcus Beatty ran 9 yards off right side for a Mustang touchdown. The 2-point conversion was no good, and the Mustangs led, 26-0.
Again, the Mustang defense stoned the Huskies and again the Huskies failed on a fourth down. Indee took over at Oelwein’s 35-yard line. Teegan McEnany was the star on this drive, running 20 yards to the Huskies 24 and then running 20 yards for a touchdown with 5:24 left in the game. The 2-point conversion by Johnson was good, and the Mustangs win this one, 34-0.
The Mustangs gave up zero first downs in the second half, and the defense that was shredded a week ago by Camanche made a huge statement Friday with an outstanding performance. Oelwein managed 84 yards of total offense and only 5 first downs.
The Mustangs racked up 295 yards of total offense, which was really good for the conditions they dealt with. They had 189 yards rushing as a team, with Marcus Beatty tallying 76 yards on 18 carries, 2 catches for 55 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
Sophomore quarterback Mitch Johnson was 6 for 12 for 106 yards and a touchdown. Keegan Schmitt ran 5 times for 33 yards while making one catch for 15 yards. Teegan McEnany ran 3 times for 51 yards and a score. Koby Beatty had a catch and 28 yards, while Sidles had 2 catches for 8 yards.
Defensively, Wood led the way with 11 tackles, and Hupke added 7.5 tackles. Kolby Sebetka had the lone sack for the Mustangs, and Tono Cornell recovered a fumble.
Coach Putz acknowledged the play of his junior center. “Caleb Weber did a nice job, all things considered, for his first career start at center in any level of football.”
Coach Putz concluded with some encouraging words about his sophomore quarterback. “Overall, I thought Mitch did a really nice job for us and made some good decisions, said Putz. “The fast start in the first half while the field was still ok was really important to us.”
Next up for the Mustangs, they will be back at home Friday night when they host the Cadets of Cresco-Crestwood (1-2), who are coming off a 14-12 win last Friday night against North Fayette Valley. Game is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.