Cobras shoulder tough loss on Senior Night

The Cobras defense had several key defensive stops throughout the game. After giving up an early score, they responded by forcing a fumble in the endzone and recovering it for a touchdown, tying the game 7-7.

Sigourney-Keota and Wapello met up on October 12 at Schaefer Field down in Ottumwa for the Cobras’ Senior Night, honoring those on the football team and cheer squad who’d be participating in their final home game. The final senior to be announced was Cale Jarmes, who passed away last year. His mother was in attendance and received a rose in his honor, followed by a moment of silence in remembrance. SK kept things close early on and battled back late but wound up taking a 14-24 loss.

“The amount of games I’ve been here it’s always been tight between us and Wapello,” SK coach Jared Jensen said. “It seems like we’re always that super bowl team for them, a marquee game for them with their playoff hopes being done.”

The Cobras defense took to the field first against a run-dominant Indians squad, with their star running back responsible for most Wapello’s yards on the season. The defense was able to hold him early on and force a quick three and out, handing the ball over to the offense who had put up 40+ points the past two weeks. It only took two plays to pick up the first down but then the offense stalled out, punting back to Wapello. The Indians pitched the ball out to their tailback, and with the help of some blocking up front, dashed down the field for the first score of the game.

“We knew their back was a really good running back,” Jensen said. “We kind of see what other teams see when we have someone like Carson running for us. A guy so tough to bring down and he had over 900 of their 1200 yards on the season and we physically couldn’t stop him.”

A few plays later, the Cobras ended up punting the ball back again as their offense couldn’t find their groove up to that point. Just when it looked like Wapello would be taking full control late in the first quarter, the Cobras defense stood tall and recovered a fumble to stall out the drive and keep it a one-possession game. JD Stout took the ball into his own hands, picking up a couple big runs including a huge conversion on a fourth and short. The Cobras maintained possession of the ball as the quarter came to an end, down 0-7.

The promising drive ended with an interception around the 10-yard line on a rare passing attempt from Stout. Once again, the defense continued to be a factor, beginning with a critical sack for loss of yards by Mac Conrad. That play alone fired up the team, Cobra fans and defense on the field. They followed that up with a near sack in the end zone for a safety, but the Wapello QB wound up fumbling the ball in the end zone, recovered by Cecil Sypherd for a Cobra touchdown. The defensive score tied the game at 7-7 and made it a whole new ballgame, which was significant considering how much time of possession the Indians had up to that point.

Wapello responded with a long 80-yard drive, eating up most of the time in the second quarter along the way. The tailback finished it off with a four-yard run to give the Indians a 14-7 lead with 3:48 left in the half. SK was unable to pick up many yards on their next possession, looking to tie it up before the half. Instead, they ended up punting the ball back with just under two minutes to play in the half. Wapello put a dagger in the Cobras with a 35-yard passing touchdown to go up by two scores with just over half a minute remaining. The two teams went into the half with Wapello holding the 21-7 advantage.

“Our kids came ready to play tonight and we knew what was at stake,” Jensen said. “We’ve preached all year you can’t let what happened the play before affect you going forward. We’ve kind of been a bend but not try not to break defense all year long.”

The Cobras got the ball first in the second half and were able to put together a long drive of their own, the lineman opening holes for their running backs and QB. The drive would stall out, forcing the Cobras to punt the ball back to Wapello. The defense kept making big plays and forced a quick three and out, giving their offense the ball back around midfield with about four minutes left in the third quarter. The Wapello defense forced a quick punt by SK, aided by some penalties on the short drive, but the special teams for the Cobras nearly recovered a bobbled ball by the Indians punt returner.

After nearly giving the ball back on the punt, the Indians tore off a long run, due to some missed tackles, but the defense finally ran they down near the 10 yard line. Wapello would be held to a field goal, which was a big stop for the defense despite giving up three more points, making the score 24-7 with just under one minute left in the third quarter. The Cobras offense put together their best drive of the night in quick fashion, getting to midfield with just enough time to run one more play. An offensive holding penalty negated a big play, but the offense was giving one more chance with an untimed down after the clock hit zeroes.

Stout took full advantage of the opportunity, running around his blockers and finding the sideline. He kept going and shed off one tackle, finishing out the run by stretching at the pylon just before a defender could bring him down. In total, Stout dashed for 55 yards in what was one of the biggest plays on the night, firing up his team and giving them a chance, only down 10 with a full quarter left of play.

“JD has done a really good job filling that void Carson leaves. He’s an athletic kid and pretty explosive and he gives us the opportunity to do a lot of things,” Jensen said. “I thought he was going to go out of bounds on that run play but then he got down the sideline and he even got caught at the four yard line and he kept pounding his feet and got it in the end zone. He gives effort in everything he does and hopefully our backs see how he attacks the hole and that’s what we have to do.”

Another big run play by the Indians offense not only ran precious time off the clock, it also moved the ball down the field into a favorable position for the Indians. The defense stood tall once again, forcing another Wapello punt. The Cobras offense was unable to put together a successful drive, punting the ball back to around midfield with just under half the quarter remaining. Another crucial sack by the defense reinvigorated the Cobras as time began to wind down with hopes of a comeback slowly fading.

The offense had one more chance to try and work some magic, but they ended up going backwards, resorting to the passing game but coming up empty handed on the first two plays. The Cobras QB tried scrambling a couple times but was unable to find an open man and was eventually dropped for a loss of yards. The Cobras didn’t convert on fourth and long, turning the ball over on downs and after a couple kneels by Wapello, the game was over.

The Cobras ended up holding the ball eight more minutes than Wapello and won the second half 7-3 but lost the game 14-24. Stout finished the night with 156 yards rushing on 23 attempts, with Sam Sieren also rushing for 39 yards and Tristan Sypherd toting the ball for 35 yards. On defense, Trent Hendricks recorded 6.5 tackles, six solo tackles and Conrad had 5.5 tackles, five solo tackles and one tackle for a loss of yards. Zeke Webb recorded two tackles for a loss of yards, Kyle Weber had a tackle for a loss of yards and Nate Schuster combined with Cecil for one more tackle for a loss of yards.

“We have to end the season with a win. I wouldn’t expect anything less from our seniors to try and end on a high note,” Jensen said. “We have to prepare to win that game and we’ll have to bring our A game with playoff hopes for sure on the line. If we win that and enough stuff happens, we could still slide in, we did last season.”

SK’s playoff chances certainly took a hit by losing to Wapello but they could still possibly sneak in by upsetting Mediapolis on the road on October 19.