Coming off of their season-opening 18-7 win over North Fayette Valley last week, the Waverly-Shell Rock football team was looking to keep their win streak alive, but this time on their home turf.
However, the Clear Lake Lions had other plans, as they defeated the Go-Hawks, 35-6.
Head coach Mark Hubbard knew his team’s week two opponent was going to be tough and gave much-deserved credit to the Lions.
“They are a good football team, and you can’t take that away from them,” Hubbard said. “They work hard and do a good job. Hats off to them, they were a quality opponent.”
During the first series for both teams, no scoring plays commenced, but the Lions’ punt, by Kody Kearns, was kicked out of bounds near their own 33-yard line. With prime field position, the Go-Hawks were unable to capitalize on the Lions’ botched punt, as they went four and out to turn the ball over on downs.
At the 8:44 mark in the first frame, Clear Lake’s quarterback, Jaylen DeVries connected with Kearns for a 49-yard touchdown pass, while Hunter Nielsen’s PAT attempt was good for an early 7-0 lead for the Lions.
On the Go-Hawks’ next series, facing third and one, Ethan Flege threw an incomplete pass, intended for Donovan Wessel, which Cody Langreck followed with a punt that was called down at Clear Lake’s 13-yard line.
During the Lions’ next series, it appeared the Go-Hawk defense was looking to gain some momentum. Putting Clear Lake deep on third and 16, Carson Toebe caught the pass from DeVries, but fumbled the ball, which was recovered by the Go-Hawks’ Payton Leonard at Clear Lake’s 24-yard line.
With Leonard’s fumble recovery putting the Go-Hawks in good field position, Waverly-Shell Rock was unable to get to the endzone, but Donovan Wessel managed to score on a 39-yard field goal to make it Clear Lake 7, Waverly-Shell Rock 3. The 7-3 margin was later the score after the first quarter came to a close.
It took the Lions just 13 seconds to find the endzone at the start of the second stanza, as DeVries’ 86-yard pass to Nick Danielson was complete for the Clear Lake score, while Nielsen’s PAT attempt went through the uprights to make it 14-3.
For the next three series, both teams went three and out. Later in the quarter, Waverly-Shell Rock’s defense tried their hand at offsetting Clear Lake’s offense, as Jack Kramer and Jeremy Chaplin teamed up for a sack of DeVries for an eight-yard loss, while the Lions were facing third and 13.
With just 3:13 remaining in the second quarter, Waverly-Shell Rock’s offense was able to run a few plays to make it within field goal range for Donovan Wessel, who put in a 37-yard field goal to make it 14-6.
Continuing their momentum surge, the Go-Hawks had a key defense play during the Lions’ next series, as Brady Ramker intercepted DeVries’ pass intended for Kearns near the Clear Lake 42-yard line. But, as fate would have it, the Go-Hawks halted their own run, as Flege handed off to Elijah Davis, who fumbled the ball on the Clear Lake 31-yard line, which was recovered by Thomas Gansen.
Clear Lake would capitalize on the opportunity, since DeVries passed to Toebe for another Lion touchdown, with Nielsen’s PAT attempt being good. At the halftime break, Clear Lake posted a 21-6 advantage over Waverly-Shell Rock.
Coming out of halftime, the Go-Hawks started the second half as the receiving team. On fourth and three, Waverly-Shell Rock’s Leonard fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Clear Lake’s San Nelson at the Lions’ 29-yard line.
After the Lions went three and out on the following series, the Go-Hawks’ matched the start of the third quarter, when Flege handed the ball off to Donovan Wessel, who lost the ball near the Lions’ 46-yard line. It was Nathan Lollar who was awarded the fumble recovery, which was turned into more Clear Lake points, as DeVries’ pass to Danielson was taken into the endzone for a touchdown, and Nielsen’s PAT kick was good, making it Clear Lake 28, Waverly-Shell Rock 6.
The final score of the game came at the 9:46 mark in the fourth quarter, when DeVries’ handed off to Jayden O’Brien-Green for the Lions’ touchdown, making the final score, Lions 35, Go-Hawks 6.
For Waverly-Shell Rock, Flege went 3-13 with 64 passing yards. On the ground, Leonard led the Go-Hawks with 50 rushing yards, while Donovan Wessel was the top receiver with 57 yards. On defense, Cael White was the top tackler with 10 total tackles, while Tyler McNally added 7.5. Donovan Wessel scored all six of the Go-Hawk points on two field goals.
Clear Lake’s DeVries tallied 293 passing yards, going 20-32 for four touchdowns. The Lions’ top receiver was Danielson, who finished with 133 receiving yards and two scores, while O’Brien-Green recorded 143 rushing yards and one touchdown.
Hubbard said, despite what the scoreboard showed, there were plenty of opportunities for the Go-Hawks to change the game’s outcome Friday night.
“Obviously, 35-6 is the score, and we had chances,” Hubbard said. “We didn’t help ourselves a few times here and there. They [Clear Lake] are a good football team and are far too good if you don’t take advantage of some of those opportunities. They are going to get ya.”
Since the Go-Hawks were handed their first loss of the season on Friday night, Hubbard knows his team gained a valuable lesson.
A lesson that applies not only on the football field, but off.
“I told our kids that this is Life 101,” Hubbard said. “Now is the time when you can make a decision to point fingers, you can blame or start to feel sorry for yourselves. Or, you can absolutely not let negativity into the locker room. That’s what championship teams do and that’s what these kids do. We will figure out where we have to get better.”
During week three, the Go-Hawks will have another opponent come into Go-Hawk Stadium, as the Crestwood Cadets come to town for Waverly-Shell Rock’s Homecoming game on Friday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Between the loss against Clear Lake on Friday and the tilt against a Northeast Iowa Conference foe, Hubbard hopes his team is able to dial it in.
“We’ve got to look at everything, in terms of big plays,” Hubbard said. “We can’t give up big plays. We’ve got to sustain drives on offense. We’ve got to win the turnover battle...I think they [the team] know that we are capable of being in big football games and getting ourselves in a position to win. We just have to make sure we don’t beat ourselves.”