Waukee sophomore running back Trevor Allen was the focus of the Marshalltown defense all week in preparation for Friday night's showdown with the Warriors.
Allen showed the Marshalltown fans why Friday at Leonard Cole Field but also got plenty of help from teammates as the Warriors' scored twice in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Bobcats, 49-35.
Allen rushed 26 times in the game and tallied 210 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Senior quarterback Riley Gray also got loose on the ground as he finished with 124 yards, and junior A.J. Allen gained 50 yards on eight carries in the win, as well.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown senior Tad Steffensen was blanketed all night by Waukee in effort to slow down Marshalltown’s passing game. Steffensen still managed to find the end zone on special teams and on defense.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown senior quarterback Blake Gimbel celebrates with receiver Dakoda Ewalt after Ewalt hauled in a 4-yard TD reception to tie the game against Waukee. Gimbel threw for 314 yards, but Waukee won the game, 49-35.
"We knew Trevor Allen was going to be key for them," Marshalltown coach David Holdiman said. "We got behind the 8-ball there early, but I was happy with our guys responded. We got back in the game, but just could never get an advantage."
Both teams combined to gain 961 yards in the game. Waukee rushed for 386 yards and Gray threw for 127 more. Blake Gimbel was 27-of-48 in the game for 314 yards and one score. The Bobcats did manage to rush for a season-high 134 yards. Senior Connor Ruddick had 12 carries for 122 yards and two scores. Gimbel also found plenty of holes with his feet but it did not show up in the yardage as Waukee sacked the senior signal caller six times, four of which came in the second half when Marshalltown was playing from behind.
"We have to do a better job of protecting him back there," Holdiman said. "Gimbel was harassed a lot tonight. But we also took some sacks we shouldn't have taken. Blake feels like he always can make a play. Those sacks are hard to overcome though."
The two teams matched each other point for point in the first half.
Allen gave Waukee an early advantage with just two plays. He ran the first play from scrimmage 38 yards and then scored one play later from 35 yards out.
Marshalltown could not score on its first possession as Gimbel was sacked on fourth down. However, Waukee lost a fumble on its first play from scrimmage, which gave the Bobcats new life.
Gimbel hit Dakoda Ewalt for 15 yards after an intentional grounding call went against Marshalltown. The next two plays were 20 yard gains through the air to Brandon Pettigrew. Two plays later, Ruddick took it from 5 yards out to tie the score.
Waukee came right back and scored three minutes later, this time moving the ball through the air. Gray hit Alex Sturm on a 38-yard hook-up and then Sturm caught a 12-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7 in favor of the road team.
After each team could not score on their next possession, Marshalltown tied the score with a big special teams play.
Senior Tad Steffensen, who was double teamed all night offensively, found a way to help his team as he took a punt from Waukee and sprinted 47 yards through tacklers and into the end zone to tie the game.
Steffensen only had 45 yards receiving on six catches, but he also scored later in the game on an interception return for a touchdown.
"Tad really found a way to help us tonight even though Waukee was doing all they could to not let him beat us," Holdiman said. "He can make a play from anywhere. That is the kind of player he is."
With Trevor Allen on the sidelines on Waukee's next drive, the Warriors went to back to air. Gray connected with Sturm again for 57 yards, and then A.J. Allen scored one play later from 3 yards out. That put Waukee up 21-14 with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
Sturm finished with 118 yards and one score on four catches. A.J. Allen played both ways for the Warriors and got plenty of pressure from the edge, sacking Gimbel multiple times in the game.
Like the Bobcats did most of the night, they had an answer for the Waukee touchdown. Gimbel used his feet to gain 29 yards on the drive, and the Bobcats also used all-state linebacker Tyler Kluver to get a first down in a short-yardage situation. Another big play on the drive was a 16-yard pass connection with Pettigrew, and the Bobcats eventually tied the score following a TD pass from Gimbel to Ewalt from 4 yards out.
The final points of the first half were put in by the Warriors as they never trailed in the game. Waukee rolled off big runs by A.J. Allen and Gray before another completion to Sturm netted 12 yards. Trevor Allen finished off the scoring drive with a 30-yard scamper with 7 minutes to play until the break.
Marshalltown got a few more cracks at the end zone before halftime. The first drive featured a 31-yard run by Ruddick and another 20-yard pass play to Ewalt. But the drive was stopped after Gimbel was picked off in the end zone by Waukee senior Kellen Kollmorgen.
Another drive by the Bobcats ended on a sack of Gimbel on fourth down. That possession also featured a touchdown pass from Gimbel to Steffensen that was called back due to an illegal shift by Marshalltown. It was the third TD strike from Gimbel to Steffensen called back in the last two weeks.
"I'll be anxious to see the game tape on that one," Holdiman said. "It's water over the dam now. it was a big play that hurt us though. That would have given us some momentum heading into halftime."
After the break, Marshalltown wasted no time to tie the score once again. Ruddick was the big gainer on the drive as the first play of the possession went for 45 yards and then the senior tailback culminated the drive with an easy 12-yard burst straight up the middle that resulted in the tying score.
The next three possessions - two for Waukee and one for Marshalltown - all ended in punts. The Warriors managed to still regain the lead though on Marshalltown's next possession.
Gimbel hit De'Quan McDowell on a nice pass play but apparently the ball came loose at the end of the play. The Bobcat coaches, players and fans all thought McDowell was down, but the officials did not blow the play dead, and Jacob Schmitt took advantage with a fumble recovery that resulted in a 40-yard touchdown.
Waukee held Marshalltown on its next possession, but Marshalltown tied on Waukee's next offensive sequence on the Steffensen pick-6. That made it 35-all with 34.7 seconds left in the third quarter.
Unfortunately for the Bobcats, that would be the final time Marshalltown would see the end zone.
Trevor Allen put the Warriors back on top with 8:51 to go in the game with a 17-yard touchdown run and then finished off the Bobcats with one last scoring scamper that equaled 38 yards. That final TD run was set up by a 25-yard run by Gray.
"Allen's a great back, and he is going to give plenty of teams trouble the next two years," Holdiman said. "But we didn't adjust well to the quarterback keeper either. We got out of position a few times, and Waukee also did a good job of using Trevor Allen as a decoy on some plays."
Marshalltown (1-2) moved the ball on its possessions in between the Waukee scores, but the end results were turnover on downs. The first possession ended in a sack and the other possession stalled due to back-to-back incompletions from Gimbel.
Waukee (1-1) got the ball back with less than 4 minutes to play in the game and used a few first-down runs by Gray and A.J. Allen to finish off the Bobcats.
"Every game turns in about four or five plays," Holdiman said. "Some of those plays were the sacks we gave up. Some of those plays were the third down and longs we gave up to their offense."
McDowell led the Bobcat receivers with 110 yards on nine catches, while Pettigrew had 87 yards on six catches. Ewalt added 72 yards on six grabs.
The Bobcats hit the road next week to face former CIML Iowa Conference rival Fort Dodge. That game will begin at 7:30 p.m. ... Marshalltown had six more first downs than Waukee and two fewer penalties. ... Waukee scored on all three of its red zone chances. Marshalltown was in the red zone seven times but only scored three times. ...The Bobcats turned it over three times. They lost two fumbles and Gimbel threw the one pick in the end zone that stalled a drive late in the first half.