Bulldogs spoil Comets’ Homecoming 33-0
By John Burbridge
CHARLES CITY — If fate could only be so kind, the Charles City Comets may never again experience another first two minutes of a second half like they did Friday against Hampton-Dumont-CAL.
Things went from bad, to worse to catastrophic.
Though down by two scores going into halftime, the Comets had been for the most part winning the wars along both sides of the line of scrimmage against the favored Bulldogs, who were vying to get back into the Associated Press Top 10 among Class 3A schools after suffering a 2-point loss to Nevada the week before.
But a wayward punt snap at the end of Charles City’s first possession of the second half gave HDC a short field (7 yard line) to take advantage of before scoring again on a fumbled kickoff return 10 ticks of the clock later.
That sequence of unfortunate events spelled doom for the Comets, as the Bulldogs went on to spoil Charles City’s Homecoming Game in a 33-0 final.
“Our mistakes tend to compound each other,” said Charles City head coach Bryan Bjorklund, whose team fell to 0-5 for the season.
“We’ve got to find a way to stop making them.”
Bulldog junior Gavin Meader accounted for four of his team’s touchdown scores. From the quarterback position, Meader completed 7 of 9 attempts for 68 yards with TD passes to Tucker Heeren (13 yards), Scott Harr (6 yards after the aforementioned botched punt) and Tony Valenzuela (5 yards) to cap the scoring with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
After the Comets stuffed the first two Bulldog possessions, including a fourth-and-one stop, Meader put his team on the board when he intercepted a pass in the flat and returned it 36 yards to open the scoring with 3:15 left in the first quarter.
For the second straight game, Charles City’s defensive unit was again solid as — withstanding Meader’s proficient passing night — held the Bulldogs to under 200 yards of total offense.
And though they got shutout for the second game in a row and were without the services of their leading rusher, Isaiah Roe, who was out due to an ankle injury sustained against Decorah the week before, the Comets did move the ball on offense and broke loose for several big gains.
Problem was that more than several of these would-be big plays were nullified due to penalties. Charles City was whistled twice for illegal motion (backfield formation wasn’t set for at least a second … liken to a balk call in baseball) which wiped out first-down gains.
Also, Charles City had two other would-be big plays nixed due to unsportsmanlike penalties in response to “pancake blocks”, something the Comet coaching staff encourages and rewards.
In a nutshell, pancake blocking is playing to the whistle while aggressively taking an opponent completely out of a play. If done without unnecessary malice, it’s usually allowed considering the nature of the game.
And usually whenever a Comet pancake blocks an opponent to the turf, he’s the first to help him up.
“When it’s done outside and in the open when everyone can see it, sometimes it draws flags,” Bjorklund said.
Charles City senior Nathan Lopez had a game-high and career-high 78 yards on 16 carries. Ethan Peterson, also picking up the slack in Roe’s absence, had 47 yards on 8 carries.
Charles City senior linebacker Kayden Blunt had 8 solo tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
“Those four guys,” Bjorklund said of Blunt, Lopez, Ethan Peterson and Trevor Peterson, “have been out on the field a lot for us and their effort is always there.”
Charles City will travel to Center Point-Urbana next Friday. The Stormin’ Pointers (2-3) are coming off a 35-7 loss to West Delaware.
HAMPTON-DUMONT-CAL 33, CHARLES CITY 0
Scoring By Quarters
Hampton-Dumont-Cal 7 7 19 0 — 33
Charles City 0 0 0 0 — 0
HDC — Gavin Meader 36-yard interception return (Tucker Heeren kick) 3:15 1st, 7-0
HDC — Heeren 13-yard pass from Meader (Heeren kick) 48.6 2nd, 14-0
HDC — Scott Harr 6-yard pass from Meader (Kick blocked) 10:14 3rd, 20-0
HDC — Will Sackville 4-yard KO fumble return (Heeren kick) 10:04 3rd, 27-0
HDC — Tony Valenzuela 5-yard pass from Meader (Pass failed) 5:36 3rd, 33-0
PASSING — Charles City, Jordan Foster 5-17, 62 yards, 2 INTs; Kaden Littleton 1-1, 14 yards. Hampton-Dumont-CAL, Gavin Meader 7-9, 68 yards, 3 TDs.
RUSHING — Charles City, Nathan Lopez 16 carries, 78 yards; Ethan Peterson 8 carries, 47 yards; Zach Chambers 2 carries, 10 yards; Josiah Cunnings 3 carries, 5 yards. Hampton-Dumont-CAL, Brody Walton 7 carries, 37 yards; Karter Janssen 6 carries, 35 yards; Gavin Meader 8 carries, 28 yards; Jack Drier 3 carries, 13 yards, Chase Johnson 1 carry, 10 yards; Brody Strother 1 carry, 5 yards; Will Sackville 2 carries, 4 yards; Colin Bird 1 carry, 4 yards.
RECEIVING — Josiah Cunnings 2 catches, 34 yards; Kaden Littleton 1 catch, 20 yards; Ethan Peterson 2 catches, 9 yards; Nathan Lopez 1 catch, 13 yards. Hampton-Dumont-CAL, Tucker Heeren 3 catches, 45 yards, TD; Tony Valenzuela 2 catches, 5 yards, TD; Scott Harr 1 catch, 6 yards, TD; Will Sackville 1 catch, 9 yards.
DEFENSE — Charles City, Kayden Blunt 8.5 total tackles, 8 solo tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss; Micah Hillhouse, 4 solo tackles; Ethan Peterson, 4 total tackles, 2 solo tackles; Josiah Cunnings, 3 solo tackles; Zach Chambers tackle for loss; Colton Marsilli tackle for loss. Hampton-Dumont-CAL, Chase Spradlin 9 total tackles, 4 solo tackles, 2 tackles for loss; Tony Valenzuela 5.5 total tackles, 4 solo tackles, tackle for loss, INT; Scott Harr 3 tackles for loss; Gavin Meader 36-yard INT TD return; Will Sackville 4-yard fumble recovery TD return; Jayson Stevens fumble recovery.
RECORDS — Hampton-Dumont-CAL 4-1, Charles City 0-5