By Sam Parsons
The long story short from Oskaloosa’s homecoming night game versus Clinton: things started great, then they weren’t, and then they were again.
Oskaloosa opened the game about as auspiciously as they could have: they kicked off to the River Kings, then forced a 3-and-out. On the next drive, the Indians marched 61 yards in just 5 plays, punctuated by sophomore RB AJ Walker taking a handoff 18 yards to the end zone. After sophomore K Linus Morison tacked on the extra point, it was 7-0 Indians.
The next drive saw the Indian defense force another 3-and-out, and this time sophomore Kaiden Parker took the return deep into River Kings territory. On the next play, AJ Walker answered a house call from 23 yards out, and the Indians were suddenly up 14-0 less than 5 minutes into the game, seemingly poised to roll over the River Kings for their first district win of the season.
However, while the Indian defense continued to force stops and turnovers (7 turnovers, including 6 interceptions), the Indian offense lost its groove. They were held off the scoreboard for the next 40 minutes of game time and turned the ball over a total of 6 times, 5 of which were fumbles. Multiple fumbled handoff exchanges spelled trouble for the Indians, and though they held their 14-0 lead into halftime, it did not last forever.
A sequence of 3 offensive drives appeared as though it might throw a wrench in the Indians’ homecoming celebrations. Early in the second half, the Indians were faced with a 4th and 4 situation inside their own 35. An attempted fake punt backfired, as the snap, which was intended for one of the up backs in the formation, went haywire, and junior Parker Lewis fell on the ball deep in Osky territory. Shortly after that, junior QB Ayden Wiebers of Clinton connected with junior WR Jakobe Worrels for a 20 yard score which cut the deficit in half, 14-7.
The next drive yielded an even more ominous result: a fumbled handoff was recovered by safety Kari Doctor of Clinton, and he would bring it back 60 yards for a scoop ‘n score to make it a 1 point game. The extra point was missed by the River Kings, so the Indians had a 14-13 lead.
Disaster struck once again for Osky’s offense early in the 4th as another lost fumble set the River Kings up on the Indians’ 10 yard line. The Indians’ defense was able to force a 4th and goal situation at the 1 yard line, but a QB sneak was able to find the end zone for Wiebers and the River Kings led 19-14 after failing a 2 point try.
Oskaloosa would finally bring the ball back into River Kings territory on their next drive, but they stalled out inside the 20 yard line. A 25 yard field goal was attempted by Morrison to cut the lead to 2, but the kick missed wide right, and the score remained 19-14. That put Osky in a situation where the defense needed a stop, but the unit answered by forcing a punt that rolled all the way down to Osky’s 11 yard line with under 6 minutes left.
This time, the Indians’ offense went to work. AJ Walker started the drive with an 11 yard run and the Indians maintained their groove until they got near midfield; it was there that they dialed up a screen pass to Walker, who answered the bell once more, following his blockers and then out-sprinting the entire River Kings defense on his way to the end zone for his 3rd touchdown of the night. Needing to try for 2 points, sophomore QB Kayne Boender rolled to his left and made an off-balance throw to senior Jamar Cisse in the end zone, who hauled it in to make it 22-19 with 2:12 left.
The Indians defense took the field once more and for the sixth time on the night, the Indians intercepted Wiebers: it was Parker Lewis who picked him off for the second time. That iced the game, and the Indians walked away with the victory to improve their record to 3-3. The full broadcast is available for free replay on SoundCloud.
The Indians will hit the road on Friday to face Cedar Rapids Xavier (4-2).