A fresh lead for South Central Calhoun seemed like it might shrink just before halftime.
Instead, two defensive stars of the night, would collide on a Mount Ayr player and catapult South Central Calhoun to another quarterfinal game.
One way the Titans were able to secure their tenth-straight win, a 56-22, playoff victory over Mount Ayr was through a defensive score.
Late in the first half Mount Ayr was trying to establish a lead they had gained, briefly, early on in the first.
They tricked South Central Calhoun by going for plays near the end of the first half, instead of just kneeling to bring the game to halftime.
Then, on a counter play, junior linebacker, Brennan Holder sniffed out the run and attacked the Mount Ayr ball runner.
He wrapped up the running back, but while doing so, put a fist on the football, jarring it loose.
The ball fell free to the ground. Just as it did, a purple uniform with the white No. 12 plastered on the front, came by to pick up fumble.
When Chase Scheidegger, the Titan who had recovered the fumble, picked up the ball, he saw nothing but 8-yards of grass in front of him.
In just under two seconds Scheidegger took under ten steps before adding to the now growing Titan lead.
“We didn’t think they would do a whole lot since there wasn’t a lot of time left before halftime,” Scheidegger said about the play that occured with 33 seconds left in the first half. “They came out with a little counter play. Our linebacker, Brennan Holder, was able to make a great play and punch the ball out. I was there at the right place and right time for the scoop and score.”
Following a Zane Neubaum extra point, the Titans led 30-14. That was all the momentum SCC needed to blow the game open.
On top of the defensive score the Titans would start the second half with the kickoff. They drove right down the field, and kept the momentum with a 14-yard touchdown run by Cole Corey.
“I think it did, that play really helped pump us up,” Scheidegger said about his fumble recovery for a touchdown. “We came out at halftime right away and scored again. That kind of demoralized (Mount Ayr).”
There would still be some adversity that SCC would face in the game.
Later in the third quarter Mount Ayr blocked a SCC punt and returned that for a touchdown, closing the score 36-22 with over five minutes left in the third quarter.
“We had some plays that gained us momentum throughout the game,” said head coach Bryan Case. “At the same time they blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown, so we had to stop the bleeding really quick.”
The bleeding would be stopped, and healed up in the fourth quarter as SCC would score three times. First off a one yard touchdown run by Landon Schleisman. Later Blake McAlister spun his way to a four-yard touchdown run. Later senior Keagen Meyer scored his second touchdown of the night when he rumbled in from five yards away.
“It starts with the line,” Meyer said about what made the SCC running game, which gained 366 yards running on Friday night. “They are there and tough and do their job. They are the ones punishing, I just run behind them.”
Although the score was lopsided for the Titans near the end of the game, early on it was Mount Ayr, and their speedy passing game that had established the lead.
South Central Calhoun scored first when Landon Schleisman scored off a one-yard run. But Mount Ayr answered right back with a 78-yard touchdown pass down the south endzone.
SCC set themselves up defensively when Zane Neubaum hit a punt that died inside the Raider five just long enough for the Titan players to down the ball at the Mount Ayr one. One play later a sack in the endzone gave the Titans a 9-7 lead.
Mount Ayr would later answer when they hit a 42-yard pass down the south sideline to take a 14-9 advantage.
“We knew that we were going to have some adversity hitting us tonight, and Mount Ayr was able to make some plays out there.,” Case said. “We survived and played well in the second half. They made some big plays and got themselves back in the game, but I felt in the third and fourth quarter our guys showed our true colors and won us the ball game.”
In order to gain the edge in the game the Titans had to slow down the passing game of Mount Ayr. They did that by adjusting their defense a little, and a little help from the play recognition of Scheidegger.
After intercepting a pass in the first half, Scheidegger stopped another promising Mount Ayr drive with the help of a second interception.
“They were driving there, and then they ran the same route that I had intercepted earlier in the game,” the senior remembers. “I just sat there, and saw they threw it to the inside route, and I just made my move and ended up with the ball.”
With the win the Titans advance to the quarterfinals where they will take to the road to play Van Meter, who is also undefeated this season.
That game will take place Friday night in Van Meter beginning at 7 p.m.