TRURO — When Interstate 35 prepared for last Friday’s Class 1A District 5 rivalry game with Central Decatur, there was no doubting that last year’s loss still lingered on their minds.
The game was close for much of the way before a second half surge landed the Cardinals a 35-7 victory.
“We were going good last year and they just took it out from under us,” senior lineman Chris Godfrey said. “We were not expecting that. We were ready for them this year and put it on them this year.”
The Roadrunners registered a defensive stop on the game’s opening drive and then responded with a touchdown drive that was capped by Brayden Egli’s 17-yard scramble, one of two such scoring plays for Egli on the night.
“We knew watching film they were probably going to go man (coverage) for the beginning So they normally don’t account for me so our line holds really good and I make one guy miss,” Egli said.
The senior quarterback made defenders miss to tune of 71 rushing yards, as his feet aided him in an 11-13, 139-yard, two-touchdown passing performance.
One of those touchdowns came soon after, following a Darian Brown strip on defense to take the ball back for the Roadrunners.
Egli found Tanner Daniels on a 24-yard fourth-down fade route by the right pylon nearest to Interstate 35’s sideline.
Egli also found Daniels on a deep slant late in the third quarter to extend the home team’s lead to four scores.
Daniels hauled in four catches for 74 yards, and of course, those two scores.
“They work well together. I think that’s more the bond that they have with the whole team,” Interstate 35 coach Mike Stuart said. “It’s a special environment. You walk into the locker room, it looks like a chaos party right in the middle.”
Defensive stops kept coming for the motivated Roadrunners. Godfrey tipped a fourth down Carter Boothe pass to end a second-quarter drive, as Tyke Walker’s tough runs on the drive (he had 66 rushing yards), went to waste.
Bridger Hutton also came up big toward the end of the first half with a juggling interception on a fade pass intended for Kolten Johnson.
Hutton picked up valuable repetitions running the ball (for 48 yards) after starting running back Mason Cassady was pulled from the game in precautionary fashion after sustaining a hit to the head.
“Their run game was a positive tonight,” Central Decatur coach Jon Pedersen said about I-35’s 161 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. “We felt like we could give them some problems with that, but we really didn’t.”
“Bridger shocks us every week,” Stuart said. “He’s that kid that comes to practice each and every day, mouth closed, ears open, learns the game and gets better each and every day.”
Hutton commanded the defensive backfield on a night where the Interstate 35 defense utilized a defensive package that stressed limiting Central Decatur quarterback Carter Boothe, not stopping him entirely, while also staying over the top of wide receivers to limit big plays.
“We knew we had to contain Boothe and we knew we couldn’t give up a home run,” Stuart said. “We knew we were going to give p stuff. With a quarterback like Boothe and a wide receiver like (Cole) Pedersen, we’re not going to win every play. i told the kids that, I don’t expect you to win every play. Play as hard as you can. From whistle to whistle, play every play hard as you can.”
Boothe passed for 153 yards, a touchdown (to Tyler Davis) and an interception. The Cardinals did leave more yardage on the field.
“They had a good scheme against us, but I felt like it was our execution more than anything,” Pedersen said. “We had openings, we ran the ball well at times. Dropped passes that were wide open at times.”
Joey Bregar recorded the other I-35 score with a three-yard first half touchdown run late in the first half, and his linebacking instincts led to 7.5 tackles, 1.5 of them for loss.
UP NEXT — Central Decatur (4-2, 2-2) plays host to Woodward Academy this Friday.
“Even though our numbers are low, we still feel good about the number of athletes that we have. We just have to put them in the right spots,” Pedersen said.
Interstate 35 (4-2, 2-2) plays at winless Des Moines Christian in Urbandale.
“Last year we weren’t the team we were week seven, eight, nine,” Stuart said about last year’s loss to CD. “We really started clicking. This year I feel like we’re clicking and we’re facing adversity.”