By John Burbridge firstname.lastname@example.org
LA PORTE CITY — One of the more popular movies featuring the late and semi-tough and great Burt Reynolds is “The Longest Yard”.
It’s a football-themed movie with a climatic scene — as foreshadowed by the title — revolving around a makeshift team of convicts vying to upset a more established team of prison guards by attempting to convert a fourth-and-goal snap from the 1-yard line with only several seconds left on the clock.
No spoiler alert on how the game ends, but the movie illustrates how “long” a yard can be in football.
There were a couple of “longest yard” battles that had profound game implications when the Charles City Comets traveled to La Porte City on Friday to take on the Class 2A No. 3-ranked Union Knights.
The Comets came out ahead in both of them which were among the main reasons they were able to come from behind to win a 21-20 thriller.
The victory was the second-straight for Charles City, improving its record to 2-1 before heading into the district-play portion of its schedule. The previously undefeated Knights fell to 2-1.
Up 14-7 going into the second half, the Knight looked as if they were going to take control of the game while putting the Comets in a deeper hole.
On the first possession of the third quarter, Knight left-handed quarterback Dylan Felderman hit Silver Schmitz in stride on a 33-yard go-route that got Union inside the 5-yard line. The Knights eventually advanced to the 1, but it was a yard too far as the Comets’ defense stood tall and pushed them back. After a motion penalty pushed them back a little more, the Knights attempted a field goal and missed.
The Comets then proceeded to embark on an 80-yard drive that was capped with a fourth-and-goal snap from the 1-yard line. If this wasn’t one of the longest yards of all time in football, it is likely one of longest delayed touchdown rulings you’ll see in high school football. While trying to sneak it in, it appeared that Comet quarterback Marcus Cranshaw was stopped short as there was no touchdown signal from the officials — with replay yet to be incorporated into high school football, no immediate TD signal usually means no TD.
But while the Knight defensive players were high-fiving after apparently making a stand of their own, the officials eventually ruled it was touchdown.
Union still maintained a lead after a motion penalty pushed back the subsequent PAT kick attempt, which sailed wide left.
On the ensuing Union possession, Comet junior Jack Sindlinger recovered a fumble at the Knights’ 43. Just four plays later, Cranshaw scored on a 11-yard keeper before connecting with Elliott Sinnwell for the 2-point pass-play conversion to put Charles City up 21-14.
With 5:22 left in regulation, Felderman found Schmitz just inside the pylon for a 12-yard TD pass. But on the subsequent PAT kick, the Comets got a great penetration surge up the middle which resulted in Jace Cajthaml blocking the kick for one of the more pivotable moments in the game.
But the Knights weren’t done yet.
Inside of 2 minutes in regulation, Union was threatening at the Charles City 10-yard line when it looked like Felderman connected with Schmitz on a slant pattern just over the goal line. But the play proved to be a double-downer for the Knights and their fans. Not only was the pass ruled incomplete, but Union was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct due to a premature celebration.
That pushed the Knights back to the 25. Felderman’s next pass was intercepted by Comet De’Ontaye Hoefer in the end zone, which sealed the game.
Comet sophomore running back Trevor Heitz recorded his first 100-yard rushing game at the varsity level with 121 yards on 24 carries.
Senior Dylan Koresh had 80 yards on just six carries, including a 34-yard TD run to open the scoring with 1:20 left in the first.
Cranshaw rushed for 78 yards on 16 carries.
The Comets got a fast start out the gate when Heitz burst through a gaping hole in the middle of the line for a 17-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Koresh broke free for 31 yards to suddenly put the Comets inside Union’s 5.
But after a penalty pushed Charles City back, Ben Behrens intercepted a Cranshaw pass to turn away the threat.
After the Comets took an early lead, the Knights went into a no-huddle passing attack and were able to move the ball after a pair of three-and-out possessions.
When Felderman found Kaleb Roach in the flat and Roach broke a tackle to get to the 1, Roach punched it in from there on a dive play on the next snap to get the Knights on the board with 6:24 left in the second quarter.
But as was the case later in the game, the Comets were able to get good penetration during the PAT kick attempt as Ryan Zuspan blocked the kick to keep Charles City up 7-6.
With 33 seconds left in the half, Felderman — who passed for 203 yards while completing 17 of 36 passes — connected with Britton Rolison for a 32-yard TD pass that, with Braydon Grosse’s 2-point conversion run, gave the Knights their halftime lead.
Charles City senior linebacker Kelly Ward led all tacklers with 10 solo sticks including one for a loss. Ward also had an interception in the first half to thwart a sustained Union drive after the Knights started attacking by air.
Colton Slinger had seven tackles, Koresh had 2.5 tackles for losses, Hoefer had six tackles to go with his game-sealing interception, and Wyatt Stevenson had a quarterback sack for the Comets, who will host Oelwein this Friday.
The Huskies are 2-1.
CHARLES CITY 21, UNION 20
Scoring By Quarters
CHARLES CITY 7 0 6 8 — 21
UNION 0 14 0 6 — 20
CC — Dylan Koresh 34-yard run (Kaleb Byers kick), 1:20 1st
U — Kaleb Roach 1-yard run (Kick blocked), 6:24 2nd
U — Britton Rolison 32-yard pass from Dylan Felderman (Brayden Grosse run), :33 2nd
CC — Marcus Cranshaw 1-yard run (Kick missed), 1:33 3rd
CC — Cranshaw 11-yard run (Elliott Sinnwell pass from Cranshaw), 9:31 4th
U — Silver Schmitz 12-yard pass from Felderman (Kick blocked), 5:22 4th