MOUNT AYR — Seventh-ranked Mount Ayr became the first 11-0 team in school history Monday night, and earned a familiar trip to Council Bluffs for Friday’s Class 1A quarterfinal matchup against No. 8 St. Albert.
But the 21-14 victory over visiting Ogden Monday required some last-minute dramatics.
Ogden, coming in at 6-4 including a previous 19-7 loss to the Raiders during District 7 play, held a 7-6 halftime lead when quarterback Caleb Frye connected with Preston Church for an 8-yard touchdown with only eight seconds left in the half.
Brady Wheelock’s kick gave the Bulldogs a one-point lead. Earlier in the second quarter, Mount Ayr had scored first on an 80-yard drive capped by quarterback Jacob Sobotka’s 27-yard TD scamper. The extra-point kick failed.
Ogden’s go-ahead touchdown was set up by a punt snap that went over the reach of Raider punter Casey Paxson in his own end zone. Paxson scrambled to get it off, but Ogden took over at the Raider 37 and quickly found the end zone in the final two minutes.
Ogden then made it a 14-6 advantage when Frye and Church hooked up again for an 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
A squib kick gave Mount Ayr possession on its own 45, and the Raiders methodically marched for the tying touchdown — a 6-yard keeper by Sobotka. The Raider quarterback ran in the two-pointer to tie the score 14-14 at the end of the third period.
With less than five minutes left in the game, Ogden threatened to take the lead by advancing inside the Raider 10-yard line. Then came the key defensive stand of the game by the Raiders.
On third-and-goal from the 9, fullback Jonathon Thompson was held to a 2-yard gain. Wheelock lined up a 23-yard field goal attempt with 3:21 left.
The kick was easily long enough, but sailed wide left.
The Raiders had new life, and began the victorious drive. Four plays into the drive, from the Mount Ayr 30 on first down, Sobotka and receiver Braydee Poore connected on the key play of the game.
90 white go.
“We were faking a dive to the left, and Braydee had a go route on the right side,” Sobotka said. “I saw him wide open, my heart started pounding and I just threw it.”
Poore knew the play would work, because the cornerback was pressing him with support from the safety behind him. But, the safety had been biting in on running flow to the other side. All the 6-foot-2 Poore had to do was beat his smaller defender to the ball.
“I knew I could beat him,” Poore said. “The safety was jetting in, so it was a good play call. It was on the money, but I almost lost it in the lights!”
Poore hauled in the pass and raced down the right sideline for a 49-yard pickup to the Ogden 20. There was still 1:41 remaining.
“One of the fortunate things the last couple years is having some guys on the sideline to help us coach,” said Mount Ayr co-coach Derek Lambert. “They’ve got their eyes on different parts of the field. Nathan Weeda, who’s a former player of ours, saw the safety was obviously cheating over the top of Braydee, because they didn’t want him catching a touchdown pass or a big play.
“But,” Lambert continued, “when we ran motion away from Braydee, Nathan saw the safety would start cheating away from Braydee to the inside. He came up and said the safety is cheating in. Let’s go up top to Braydee. We gave the fake (handoff) to the back side, which holds the linebackers that quarter of a second that we need for Jacob to get the pass off. They’re one-on-one out there with Braydee. He beat his guy and that throw was the best one Soby’s probably had on a go route all season long!”
After Sobotka picked up 4 yards on the next play, he delivered the winning touchdown on a 16-yard scamper with 1:23 left. Zach Vanderflught kicked the extra point.
“We’d been running that play all night,” Sobotka said, “over the guard on the left side (Mason Mercer). They filled the gap I usually go in, so I just cut it up the back side and took off.”
“Our defense was starting to step up, so I knew we had it then,” Poore said.
Ogden got possessionwith 1:15 left on its own 24, starting with an 11-yard gain by Frye. On third down at the 38, Frye was sacked by Joe Ricker for a loss. A fourth-down pass intended for Cayce Good on the right sideline sailed high, and the Raiders took over to run out the final 38 seconds.
“We’d been behind a few times this season, but not this many times in one ballgame, I can assure you,” co-coach Delwyn Showalter said.
Ogden tailback Cody Good, who had 1,144 yards rushing in 10 games including 258 in the 43-34 playoff win over Tri-Center, was limited to 46 yards Monday night.
“I thought we did a nice job with him,” Showalter said. “Our defense did a heck of a job tonight.”
Sobotka, nursing a left ankle injury, totaled 152 yards rushing while scoring the three touchdowns, and was 7-16 passing for 113 yards.
“We expect an awful lot out of him,” Showalter said. “We knew he’d suck it up and give us a good effort. Zane Sickels is another one who didn’t practice all week. He’s got a bad shoulder. He was also able to go and do some great things for us tonight.”
Now, the Raiders travel to Council Bluffs to take on the 10-1 Falcons who beat Mount Ayr in the first round last year, and in this same quarterfinal round in 2006. St. Albert’s only defeat is to Class 3A quarterfinalist Lewis Central.
The Falcons advanced Monday with a 42-7 win over Van Meter, including a 42-0 lead at halftime with a running clock the entire second half.
“They just reload over there,” Showalter said. “It’s a great program. They have tremendous speed, not just in the skill positions, but in the line of scrimmage as well. We’re thrilled to get to go on and we’ll get prepared to give them our best shot.”
Mount Ayr 21, Ogden 14
Ogden 0 7 7 0 - 14
Mount Ayr 0 6 8 7 - 21
MA — Jacob Sobotka 27 run (kick failed), 8:15
O — Preston Church 8 pass from Caleb Frye (Brady Wheelock kick), :08
O — Church 80 pass from Frye (Wheelock kick), 5:52
MA — J. Sobotka 6 run (Sobotka run), :00.
MA — J. Sobotka 16 run (Zach Vanderflught kick), 1:23.
Rushing: O - Cody Good 20-46, Johnathan Thompson 4-19, Jake West 1-15, Caleb Frye 8-9. MA - Jacob Sobotka 24-152, Erik Freed 8-16, Riley Weehler 5-13, Cody Stackhouse 3-3, Zane Sickels 1-3, Lincoln Martin 2-1.
Passing: O - Caleb Frye 11-19-0 for 162 yards. MA - Sobotka 7-16-0 for 113 yards; Weehler 0-1.
Receiving: O - Preston Church 4-103, Grant Heineman 2-26, Cayce Good 2-23, Cody Good 3-10. MA - Braydee Poore 5-85, Shane Swank 1-21, Dylan Doman 1-7.
Tackles (solo-assists): MA - Cody Stackhouse 8-7, Swank 4-5, Sickels 3-5, Martin 3-3, Joe Ricker 4-3, Weehler 1-6, Mason Mercer 1-5, Johnathan Triggs 1-4, Levi Martin 0-4.