AMES - Blake Gimbel has made so many plays with his arm during his time at Marshalltown that opponents are usually not afraid of what he can do with his feet.
Gimbel may have changed the scouting reports moving forward as the senior quarterback threw for 390 yards and two scores but also rushed for three more TDs in a 37-27 win at Ames on Friday night, spoiling the home team's Homecoming game.
The Bobcats have now beaten the Little Cyclones in Ames three straight times and are now above .500 for the first time this season.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown wide receivers Dacoda Ewalt (25) and Brandon Pettigrew (11) celebrate Ewalt’s touchdown catch as Ames defender Alex Hashemi-Toroghi (3) walks off dejected during Friday’s Class 4A football game at Ames High School. Marshalltown won 37-27.
"It was a gutty win," MHS coach David Holdiman said. "The kids hung in there after nothing went right that first half. We showed so much heart and it is always a good win when you can beat Ames."
The Bobcats were forced to rally in the first half as Ames jumped out to an early 13-0 lead following a long drive on its first possession and then a one-play strike following a Gimbel interception.
But Marshalltown hung in there, chipped away at the lead and eventually got back into the contest with big plays offensively and a strong second-half defensive performance that held the Little Cyclones to just one score.
"We made big plays when it needed them most," Holdiman said. "We found a way to win tonight. We found a way to win with our feet tonight."
The biggest offensive play of the game came late in the fourth quarter when Marshalltown had third down and goal from the Ames 5. There was less than 3 minutes to play in the game and a Bobcat touchdown would essentially put the victory on ice.
Gimbel noticed something from Ames on the other side of the ball, checked off at the line, changed the play and was able to scamper on the outside for a 5-yard TD run, his third rushing touchdown of the contest.
"That was huge for us," Holdiman said. "Blake saw they had one less defender than we had blockers so he checked off to a running play and was able to execute it. That alley was open for him to run the ball all night."
Gimbel finished with 35 yards rushing - due to a few sacks - but the Bobcats got 61 yards from Colton Fuller and outgained Ames on the ground 101-72. It was a strong performance from an offensive team that usually does it attacking through the air.
"They doubled Tad all night with a linebacker and safety, and the linebackers were not in the box a lot of the times," Holdiman said. "We went to the run quite a bit and we put in our offensive lines hands to win this game. Blake made some good decisions and Colton ran the ball well."
Another impressive performance offensively came from Brandon Pettigrew, who stepped in for Tad Steffensen, who was the main focus of Ames' defense all night. While Steffensen still managed 11 catches and 93 yards, Pettigrew finished with 177 yards on eight catches and one score.
"Brandon made great adjustments tonight," Holdiman said. "That play late on third down and long was a huge play. He is starting to figure out that the scramble can be a deadly weapon."
The other receiving TD came from Dacoda Ewalt, who ended up with three catches for 30 yards.
Gimbel finished the game 29-of-49 for 390 yards and two scores, while Ames quarterback Sam Straub threw for 401 yards and three scores but also had two interceptions. Mike Mayberry led the Ames receivers with 14 catches for 161 yards and one score.
Ames' two touchdown scoring drives in the first half covered 11 plays and 15 plays but the Bobcats buckled down in the second half and forced several three and outs. The Little Cyclones scored just one time in the second half and that strike cut the Bobcats lead to three with 8:26 to play in the game.
Senior defensive lineman Pedro Gomez was in the face of Straub all night. He finished with two sacks, including one late in the game on fourth down and eight that sealed the win. Holdiman called that sack "a huge play in the game."
The Bobcats are now 3-2 on the season after winning two straight games on the road. Marshalltown will return to Leonard Cole Field next week to face the Ottumwa Bulldogs in the first divisional matchup for the Bobcats.
"We won two games on the road, and those can be tough to get sometimes," Holdiman said. "We're proud of this effort. We like Leonard Cole Field. We haven't played Ottumwa in awhile, and they have a new coach. We'll definitely be happy to be back at home."
Sophomore defensive back Michael Schrempf told the T-R on Friday that he plans on returning to the team in the final two regular season games against Mason City and Dowling Catholic. He broke his hand earlier this year but will be released for football and golf just before both seasons end. The Marshalltown community will have an 'Orange-Out' next Friday against Ottumwa as part of the Not In Our Town (NIOT) anti-bullying initiative. Fans are encouraged to wear orange or the orange NIOT T-shirts that are currently surfacing throughout the community. The marching band also will wear the shirts as part of the initiative. Marshalltown had 487 yards of total offense, while Ames finished with 473. Ames is now 2-2 on the year and will play at Fort Dodge next Friday. The Bobcats outscored Ames 34-14 after the first quarter. "We re-grouped in the second half after not a lot went right in the first half," Holdiman said. "We played well in all facets in the second half."