TAMA - The opportunities weren't plentiful for the South Tama football team against Grinnell, but there were a few.
The Trojans just didn't take advantage of enough of them.
Grinnell overwhelmed STC up front and kept them chasing for the entire night to claim a 38-18 victory Friday in Class 3A District 6 play.
T-R PHOTO BY TRAVIS HINES
South Tama quarterback Sam Kuhter, left, is forced out of bounds by Grinnell’s Brett Morrison, right and Keaton Hunter late in the Tigers’ 38-18 Class 3A District 6 triumph in Tama on Friday night.
South Tama (2-6, 1-5) simply couldn't string enough positive plays together on offense or stop the Tigers (7-1, 6-0) on repeated short fields, allowing Grinnell to keep the Steve Kriegel Memorial Trophy for another year.
"We just couldn't generate anything for two or three plays," said STC head coach Jay Hoskey. "When they know you've got to throw to win and we've got to manufacture different ways to get the ball to our few guys that can make plays, that's tough."
The Trojans were able to rush for just 52 yards on the night, but still had chances to make the Tigers sweat.
STC put itself in a 10-0 hole in the first quarter, but kept Grinnell grounded in the second stanza to hold the score heading into halftime.
A nine-play, 86-yard scoring drive to open the second half breathed new life into the the Trojans when quarterback Sam Kuhter rumbled in from 11 yards out to make the score 10-6.
The momentum gained coming out of the locker room was short lived however, as Grinnell's Jack Leshen returned the ensuing squib kick all the way down to the Trojans' 20 yard line.
"That's huge. That's huge," said Hoskey. "We've got our best kids on that kick team, and then we kind of have a breakdown and they return that and it's an easy score for them."
Wolfgang Strovers dove in from the 3-yard line four plays later to give Grinnell a two-score cushion, and STC then went three-and-out, gave up a big return on the punt and surrendered a 19-yard scoring strike from Eli Dunne to Jordan Eley in the span of 2 minutes to fall behind 24-6.
Two plays later, however, the Trojans appeared to be right back in it.
Kuhter hit running back Kyle Stephenson on a screen pass that went 80 yards for a score, and STC surprised Grinnell with an onside kick to set themselves up on the Tigers' 30-yard line.
But the Trojans were unable to capitalize, turning the ball over on downs without moving the sticks once.
"If we would have gotten another one back in there, who knows what would have happened," said Hoskey. "We knew we had to play exceptionally well. Grinnell is a good team."
The Tigers added scores from Strovers and Avery Lindley while STC found paydirt on the final play of the game on a toss from Kuhter to Levi Kaufman to finish off scoring.
Eley ran for 118 yards and caught three passes for 91 yards for a Tigers team that has now won seven straight.
Dunne passed for 103 yards while being able to avoid a strong Trojan rush.
"He's not real fast, but he makes real good decisions," Hoskey said of Dunne.
Stephenson had six grabs for 105 yards and rushed for a team-high 34. Kuhter finished 12-of-27 for 180 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Chase Schuett had an interception for the Trojans, who also recovered a pair of Grinnell fumbles, one inside their own 5-yard line to keep things close early.
The Tigers will host No. 6 Solon next week while the Trojans will try to snap a five-game skid in their season finale at Benton Community.