ANKENY - The Ankeny football team proved why it is in the Class 4A championship discussion each and every year Friday night at home against Marshalltown.
The third-ranked Hawks jumped out to a 28-0 lead against the Bobcats and never looked back, piling up 577 total yards of offense in a 49-14 win over Marshalltown, which also compiled more than 400 yards of offense.
"The important stat is the score at the end of the game," Marshalltown head coach David Holdiman said. "It's unbelievable that we have 403 passing yards and only score 14 points. That shows you the kind of athletes that Ankeny has."
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown High School wide receiver De’Quan McDowell (22) is dragged down by a host of Ankeny defenders during first-half action in Friday’s football opener at Ankeny High School. The host Hawks prevailed 49-14.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS receiver Brandon Pettigrew, right, tries to evade Ankeny defender Tanner Buenting (4) after making a catch in the first quarter of Friday’s football game at Ankeny High School.
Marshalltown's Blake Gimbel did throw for 403 yards. But the Bobcats only rushed for 2 yards and made too many mistakes on both sides of the ball. Gimbel threw three interceptions in the game - one of which was taken back for a touchdown - and the Bobcats lost another possession by way of a fumble.
"They contained us at times tonight," Holdiman said. "We were not sharp either. We were leaking in several different spots. But we played much better in the second half."
Ankeny led 14-0 after one quarter and then went up 28-0 at the break. Iowa State-bound quarterback Joel Lanning had an 11-yard rushing TD in the first quarter and then threw two more TDs in the second period. Those two scores equaled 97 yards through the air as Marshalltown's inexperienced secondary was picked on most of the night.
"We had a lot of issues and most of the issues are due to our inexperience," Holdiman said. "We are pretty green on defense."
Lanning finished with 311 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also had 33 yards rushing and another TD. The difference in the game was Ankeny's balance, rushing for 266 yards on 26 attempts.
Gimbel threw the ball all over the field, finishing 42-of-61 for 405 yards and two scores. He did have three interceptions, two of which came off Ankeny deflections.
The 42 completions by Gimbel matched the school record he set last season against Sioux City East.
"The field position was big in this game." Holdiman said. "We were often backed up on offense so we had to play it safe more than we are used to. And that is not what we want. The field position was definitely a factor."
Both Tad Steffensen and De'Quan McDowell had 12 catches for Marshalltown. Steffensen finished with 167 yards and a 70-yard touchdown. McDowell did not score but had 113 receiving yards.
Dacoda Ewalt had eight catches for 68 yards and a score, while Brandon Pettigrew added seven catches for 49 yards. Colton Fuller was the team's leading rusher with 18 yards on 12 carries.
The second half looked promising for the Bobcats. After a Marshalltown punt, Ankeny drove down the field but missed a field goal attempt from 32 yards out.
The Bobcats took over and got on the scoreboard following a Gimbel touchdown pass to Steffensen. Gimbel tossed it about 10 yards to his speedy receiver and Steffensen did the rest. That came with 5 minutes left to play in the third quarter.
Ankeny answered back with some big plays of its own. Lanning hit Marshall Clark for 41 yards and then the Hawks extended their lead following a Lanning-to-Drew Carlson 38-yard TD pass. Carlson finished with 143 yards on four catches. Clark, who is expected to be Lanning's favorite target, was held to just 49 yards on three catches.
Marshalltown did answer that Ankeny scoring drive with another TD of its own. The Bobcats started on their own 20 and drove 80 yards in 11 plays. The drive included a 14-yard reception by Steffensen, but Ewalt was the star attraction, collecting three catches on the drive, including a 24-yard score with 11:31 to play in the game.
That would be the last time Marshalltown would score though. The next two possessions ended in punts by both teams. Then the Bobcats gained some momentum when they recovered an Ankeny fumble on their own 10-yard line.
However, like they did most of the game, the talented Hawks flipped the script back in their favor. Luke Gibbs picked off Gimbel and sprinted into the end zone for the score. Gibbs also rushed for 75 yards and a score on offense.
The Bobcats drove the ball down the field on their next possession but failed to score any points. The 10-play drive ended deep in Ankeny territory in a turnover on downs with 2:14 to play.
"We just started too late tonight," Holdiman said. "We had too many turnovers and too many mistakes."
Ian Begg capped off the victory a few a plays later as he scampered 81 yards for the final touchdown of the game. Begg ended up with 132 rushing yards on just seven carries.
Marshalltown ran 82 plays to Ankeny's 51 but managed only two scores. That has to change, according to Holdiman.
"We have to get more point production with that many plays," he said.
The win for Ankeny was the 300th for head coach Jerry Pezzetti's at the school. There were 18 penalties in the game for a total of 160 yards. Ankeny accounted for 12 penalties for 130 yards. Marshalltown welcomes Pella to Leonard Cole Field next Friday. "We're looking to improve in Week 2," Holdiman said. "That is usually where teams see the most improvement."