A week after a heart-wrenching defeat at the hands of the Ottumwa Bulldogs, the Oskaloosa Indians needed a spark to right the ship. Early in their road tilt against the Knoxville Panthers, it didn’t look like that spark would be presenting itself.
The Indians and Panthers spent the first quarter mostly faltering on offense. The Panthers saw junior quarterback Noah Keefer connect on a 30 yard completion to senior Konnor Leslie in the first quarter to put their offense in the red zone, but just two plays later, a well-executed hit by junior James Woods on senior running back Andon Trout jarred the ball loose and the Indians recovered to get the ball back. The first quarter ended without a score for either team.
Enter: Waylon Bolibaugh. The star senior wideout sat out the first quarter for the Indians but wasted little time making his mark. Less than 1 minute and 20 seconds into his time on the field, Bolibaugh hauled in a deep heave from junior QB Trevor Willett and rendered the unfortunate members of the Knoxville secondary helpless as they watched him scamper by, all the way to the end zone for a 51 yard score. Freshman kicker Linus Morrison, who was just called up to varsity this week, tacked on the extra point to make it 7-0.
The Osky defense responded to the explosive play on the other side by forcing a punt, but the good times didn’t last; a fumbled exchange on a handoff saw the Indian offense give the ball back to the Panthers. Keefer promptly launched a 35 yard completion down the sideline to TE Koby Higginbotham to put the Panthers on the doorstep before RB Ruger Kendall punched it in from one yard out. Kicker Luka DeJong missed the PAT wide left and the score was 7-6 Indians. The first half ended two drives later without either team mustering a notable effort on offense.
The third quarter was a dragged-out affair. Each team committed a slew of penalties and had issues getting the correct personnel on special teams. It wasn’t until there were under 5 minutes left in the quarter when lightning struck once again for Trevor Willett and Waylon Bolibaugh, who connected on a very similar scoring play to their connection in the first half: Willett launched a 50-50 pass that Bolibaugh outplayed his man to bring in, Bolibaugh made a man miss, and was off to the races for a 55 yard touchdown. Morrison added the PAT to make it 14-6 with 4:42 remaining in the 3rd.
The Indians defense completely shut the Panther offense down in the second half. Noah Keefer had completed 3 of 7 passes for 74 yards in the first half, but began the second half 0/8, and Andon Trout was unable to find running room in the interior of the defense. The Indians’ front 4 routinely got excellent penetration and the linebackers were frequently called upon to blitz, making it count far more often than not.
Midway through the 4th, Willett and Bolibaugh completed the hat trick. On a drive that started on their own 8 yard line, Willett connected on a quick pass to junior WR AJ Lawrence, who had sat out the first half, on a 39 yard catch and run that saw 15 yards tacked on the end via a personal foul. Another personal foul – this time, a facemask – on the next play, a 7 yard run by sophomore RB Dom Piersel, had the Indians in business. Three plays later, Willett lobbed a pass to the end zone for Bolibaugh and he gathered it for his third touchdown of the night, a 25 yard score to make it 21-6 with 6:44 remaining.
The Indians’ defense held on from there, and AJ Lawrence picked off backup QB Brenden Woolsey at the Panthers’ 35 yard line and answered a house call to put an exclamation point on the victory. The Indians won by a final score of 28-6.
The Indians (1-1) continue their non-district schedule at Burlington next week. The Panthers (0-2) will travel to Carlisle.
Team Net Yards
Trevor Willett: 17/33, 285 yards, 3 TD, 0 INT; 1 sack, 6 yards lost, 2 fumbles (1 lost)
Noah Keefer: 5/21, 93 yards; 2 sacks, 14 yards lost, 0 fumbles
Brenden Woolsey: 1/3, 3 yards, INT
Dom Piersel: 16 carries, 56 yards
Andon Trout: 16 carries, 57 yards
Ruger Kendall: 5 carries, 19 yards, TD, fumble
Dakota Ramsey: 4 carries, 10 yards
Waylon Bolibaugh: 7 catches, 169 yards, 3 TD
AJ Lawrence: 3 catches, 41 yards
Maddux Ashman: 3 catches, 46 yards
Jacob Greenhalgh: 1 catch, 18 yards
Jaden DeRonde: 1 catch, 12 yards
Tatum Westercamp: 1 catch, 4 yards
Dom Piersel: 1 catch, -5 yards
Koby Higginbotham: 3 catches, 61 yards
Konner Leslie: 1 catch, 30 yards
Braiden Dudley: 1 catch, 3 yards
Drew Robinson: 1 catch, 3 yards