Ames offense spoils Bobcat Homecoming
It took the Ames football team a little bit of time to get its high-powered offense started Friday night.
But once the Little Cyclones got moving, they were pretty tough to stop.
Class 4A No. 8 Ames piled up 566 total yards of offense and held the Bobcats to 182 during a 42-7 win at Leonard Cole Field. The Little Cyclones’ victory ended a two-game win streak in the series for Marshalltown and spoiled the Bobcats’ Homecoming.
“I think we made some steps as far as knowing our assignment and trying to do that assignment,” Marshalltown coach Aaron Shipley said. “Now we just have to execute better within that assignment. We have had some kids that have tried to freelance at times and that has hurt us. We now need to focus on executing within the scheme.”
Three of the state’s best offensive players showcased their talents in front of a large Bobcat crowd. That proved to be too much for the Bobcats to handle in the 100th meeting between the two schools.
Senior tailback and 4A leading rusher Clifford Kwaw-Mensah ran for 229 yards on 28 carries, while senior quarterback and 4A leading passer Sam Straub did most of his damage through the air, going 19-for-33 for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Straub’s favorite target once again was Alex Brammer, who had 10 catches, 213 yards and a 29-yard touchdown to open the game’s scoring. Brammer came into the game leading all 4A wideouts in receptions and yards.
After the game, Shipley said he feels Straub is the best quarterback in the state.
“He recognizes where we are coming from on blitzes and hits the guy right behind the blitz and that is what hurts you,” said Shipley of Straub. “He was able to do that and was the first one to do that this year. He made us pay for it.”
The Bobcats have faced a few tough tailbacks already this season, including Waukee junior Trevor Allen. Kwaw-Mensah ranks up there with the best backs in the state, according to Shipley.
“Both he and Trevor Allen are great backs,” Shipley said. “Allen is a more complete back from a power standpoint, but Clifford is his own type of runner. He is explosive and shifty. He was really hard to tackle and really hard to contain.”
The Bobcats’ defense forced Ames to punt on the Little Cyclones’ first possession, but Straub found Brammer on their next drive. The pass completion covered 29 yards and it put the visitors up 7-0.
Kwaw-Mensah tallied touchdown runs of 49 and 43 on two other drives in the first half and a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Straub gave Ames a 28-0 lead at the break.
Ames was forced into a punt and then lost a fumble on its first two possessions of the second half, but the lead grew to 35-0 after a 36-yard touchdown pass from Straub to Shane Spencer. Spencer’s second touchdown catch of the game covered 45 yards and capped the Little Cyclones’ scoring at 42.
Marshalltown’s defense was improved. The Bobcats were in better position and didn’t miss as many tackles. But Shipley still knows his team needs to get stronger.
“We have to get stronger at the point of attack,” the Bobcat head coach said. “We are getting pushed around. We are getting moved by offensive linemen. We did miss some tackles tonight. We are just not as strong as we need to be.”
The Bobcat offense failed to reach 200 yards for the third straight game. But Jordan Banes, Joe Rebik, Jonathan Espinoza and Dylan Diveney combined to rush for 106 yards on the ground.
That is a step in the right direction.
“We are transforming the offense as we go here to try to fit the personnel,” Shipley said. “We have a handful of quality running backs that we feel can help us and we are trying to get them on the field and trying to get them involved. That was evident tonight.”
The offensive strategy for the Bobcats was to run the play clock all the way down before every snap. Shipley said he wanted to use up as much clock as possible and attempt to keep Straub and that vaunted Little-Cyclones’ offense on the sidelines.
Ames ran 13 more plays in the game, but the Bobcats had the ball for 12 more minutes, committed just one penalty and did not turn it over.
“It was a strategic part on our end,” Shipley said. “We were trying to keep the ball out of Straub’s hands. We also were trying to give our guys some momentum and trying to help them sustain some drives.
“We wanted to hold on to the ball longer tonight, too. We slowed it down so our defense can get more of a break and it gave our offensive line more time to recognize what’s going on. That was all part of the plan.”
Marshalltown’s only points of the game came with 2:55 to play in the fourth quarter. Diveney, who rushed for 35 yards on 11 carries, scored from 4 yards out to put the Bobcats on the scoreboard.
Diveney also threw for 76 yards. His top receivers were Austin Lovin (three catches, 26 yards) and Austin Kluver (three catches, 22 yards). Banes rushed for 45 yards on 12 carries in his first action of the season.
Homecoming King Derek Mann had 10 tackles to lead the Bobcat defense, while Justus Bjelland played his best game of the year with six tackles and a sack.
Ben Rebik also had five tackles and halted an Ames possession deep in Bobcat territory when he picked off a Straub pass at the goal line.
The Bobcats dropped to 0-4 for the first time since starting 0-6 in 2006.
Ames is now 4-0 following the win. The Little Cyclones have scored at least 40 points in three of their four games this season. The seven points allowed also was their fewest amount given up.
Marshalltown will try to lock up its first win next week when it travels to Ottumwa to face the Bulldogs. Ottumwa moved to 2-2 on Friday after a 34-7 loss to Indianola.