By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
CHARLES CITY — You know the axiom — When in doubt … punt.
After having to punt twice out of their own end zone midway through the first quarter, the prospect of the Charles City Comets winning their home-opener against New Hampton on Friday was somewhat in doubt.
After Comet punter Dylan Koresh got the first punt away with the coverage team forcing a fumble recovered by Charles City junior Elliott Sinnwell, New Hampton caught a break when a motion penalty nullified the play.
That forced the Comets to punt again from even deeper in the end zone, which resulted in Chickasaw senior Dillon Roberson blocking the kick out of the box for a safety.
New Hampton later scored on the ensuing free-kicked-to possession, putting the Chickasaws two scores up (9-0) with 2:17 left in the first quarter.
But the Comets responded by scoring 21 unanswered points on way to winning 21-9.
To borrow a common-used baseball phrase, it was a “complete-game victory” for the Comets, who shined on both sides of the ball while evening their record at 1-1.
The Chickasaws fell to 0-2.
Charles City compiled 327 yards of total offense while holding New Hampton to 101 — only 29 of which came from the ground.
The Comets, conversely, grinded out 276 yards on the ground while averaging better than 5.2 per rushing attempt.
Sophomore Trever Heitz had 90 yards on 22 carries; junior Sinnwell had 68 yards on 10 carries; and senior Koresh had 64 yards on 8 carries, including a 31-yard TD on the first play of the second quarter.
Koresh was sprung loose on a counter, misdirection play which was a staple of the Comets’ attack against the Chickasaws.
“It puts a lot of pressure on the defense … spreads them out and forces them to play you honest,” Charles City head coach Darren Bohlen said.
Charles City also passed the ball efficiently. Junior quarterback Marcus Cranshaw was 4 of 5 passing for 51 yards. Sinnwell caught three of those passes, including a 12-yard play-action TD which he hauled in with a leaping catch in the back of the end zone to put the Comets ahead for good with less than five minutes remaining in the half.
Cranshaw and Elliott later hooked up on another play-action pass good for 26 yards on a third-and-long snap to get Charles City inside the New Hampton 5 late in the fourth quarter.
Soon after, Cranshaw punched it in one a 1-yard keeper to put the game away.
Cranshaw also rushed for 53 yards.
Kaleb Byers was 3 of 3 on his PAT kicks for the Comets.
While playing their season-opener in a downpour the week before against Crestwood, Charles City’s option attack had a hard time finding traction. Still, their defense kept them in the game only to have a blocked PAT attempt allow the Cadets to escape with a 7-6 victory.
Against the Chickasaws, the Comets’ defense was again outstanding, limiting New Hampton to 1.2 yards per rushing attempt and under 17 minutes of time of possession.
Sinnwell had six solo tackles; Koresh was credited with two sacks; senior linebacker Kelly Ward had 2.5 tackles for losses; Jeremiah Chapman had four solo tackles and an interception; and junior defensive back De’Ontaye Hoefter separated the ball from a would-be receiver while defending a slant pattern with a resounding stick that got a rise out of the Charles City student section.
“We have some athletes and they can really fly to the ball,” Bohlen said. “We also have great senior leadership who put time in during the offseason to make themselves better players.
“They learned a lot from last year.”
Tristan Sweitzer had 52 yards on 12 carries for New Hampton, which fell to 0-2.
Charles City is back on the road this Friday to take on Union Community, which is 2-0.
CHARLES CITY 21, NEW HAMPTON 9
Scoring By Quarters
NEW HAMPTON 9 0 0 0 — 9
CHARLES CITY 0 14 0 7 — 21
NH — Dillon Roberson blocked punt out of end zone, 6:46 1st
NH — Wyatt Stochl 1 yard run (Austin Hermann PAT kick), 2:17 1st
CC — Dylan Koresh 31 yard run (Kaleb Byers PAT kick), 11:54 2nd
CC — Elliott Sinnwell 12 yard pass from Marcus Cranshaw (Byers PAT kick), 4:57 2nd
CC — Cranshaw 1 yard run (Byers PAT kick), 2:37 4th