Cyclones fall short against Panthers

It takes a great offense to beat a great defense. It ain’t over till it’s over.

Any number of old-time football sayings would have described Friday night’s battle in Creston between the HCHS Cyclones and Panthers. Fighting uphill the entire night, the Cyclones faced deficits of 8-0, 15-0, 22-7, and 22-14, but still managed to come back to tie the game at 22 late in the fourth quarter, only to see the Panthers win the game 25-22 on a field goal with 2:44 left on the clock.

“I was proud of them to go down there and score and tie it up there late in the fourth quarter,” said Cyclone Head Coach Todd Bladt. “I was proud of our defense in the second half. They only gave up three points to a really explosive offense, but we’ve got to do a better job offensively of getting it in the end zone.”

The Cyclones got the ball and managed to make their way downfield forcing multiple first downs, but came up empty impart due to two penalties. In a scene of what was to come all night, Senior quarterback Cael Turner was constantly in motion on the drive, eventually hitting Senior Brennan Hayes for a 12-yard touchdown. 

The Panthers decided to go for a 2-point conversion following the touchdown and were successful when Junior running back Weston Trapp went into the end zone for the two points making it 8-0 Panthers.

Not long into the second quarter, the Panthers scored again on a 1st and goal on the 2-yard line, Turner went for a 2-yard touchdown run putting his team up 14-0, followed by the extra point by Hayes.

“They were tough,” Bladt said of Turner and Hayes. “They did a lot of good things the way they were coached, the way they did things on the field was evident.”

The Cyclones got their wheels turning when Senior quarterback Will Arkfeld found Junior Lukas Francis approaching the 7-minute mark for a 34-yard touchdown, getting his team on the board and lighting up the Cyclone fanbase. Junior kicker Nolan Schwery added the extra point making it a 15-7 Panther lead.

It didn’t take the Panthers long to punch the Cyclones right back when Trapp scored for the Panthers on a 4-yard touchdown run with just over four minutes to go, widening his teams lead to 21-7. Hayes followed with the extra point.

The Cyclones proved how resilient they are when they answered back on a 44-yard bubblescreen touchdown pass from Arkfeld to Senior Cade Sears just before the 2-minute mark. Schwery added the extra point, putting the Cyclones down by eight heading into halftime.

“It’s just a one score game at that time,” Bladt said. “We were confident in what we were doing. We were moving the ball really well and then we just had breakdowns and most of them were mental breakdowns where playing clean and not shooting yourself in the foot and those are things you’ve got to do if you want to win close ballgames and we just didn’t do that tonight.”

The Cyclones got the ball to open the third quarter and made a few runs, trading possessions with the Panthers, but nobody could score, sending the game into the final quarter with the Cyclones still trailing by eight, but with halftime defensive adjustment evident against a strong Creston offense, Matthew Sorfonden had 17 tackles

With just under eight minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Cyclones had a golden opportunity to tie the game and were successful when Arkfeld handed off the ball to Francis who went for an 8-yard touchdown, cutting the Panther lead to two points.

Going for the two-point conversion, Arkfeld rolled right and threw a high ball in the back of the end zone that Junior Jozef Reisz leapt and caught and when he landed the game was tied at 22.

“He ran a good route and we’ve talked about that,” Bladt said of Reisz. “He did it just like we drew up. Kudos to Will because that’s the third option, so he went through his progression real nice, made a good ball and was able to tie the game up.”

When the Cyclones returned to the field on defense, the Panthers were on a 2nd and 10 when Junior Bryce Van Baale came up with a sack stopping the Panther offense in their tracks.

The clock continued to wind down going under three minutes to play when Hayes returned to the field attempting a field goal after the Panthers were unable to score a touchdown due to stellar Cyclone defense. Hayes kicked the field goal, putting his team up 25-22 ultimately winning the game and handing the Cyclones their second loss of the season.

“I think defensively we had a really good scheme,” Bladt said. “I think the coaches did a really good job with this. To only give up 25 points against that kind of a powerhouse offense, they did a fantastic job. We had some guys that really just battled their butts off out there. Matthew Sorfonden had 17 tackles. That’s pretty amazing. He was playing well. Quinn Koesters looked good out there doing some things and we had a couple of freshman starting tonight.”

The Cyclones will return to Merrill Field Friday night to take on 1-4 Perry Bluejays who won their opening game of the season to Des Moines Hoover 33-18, but since have lost four straight with their most recent loss coming against Nevada 49-14.

The Bluejays are led by Geren Kenney with 644 passing yards and 285 rushing yards, Eric Lagos with 215 receiving yards. Defensively, Kain Killmer leads with 27.5 tackles.



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