Cobras win trench war against Blue Demons on sloppy field

Carson Crawford led the charge for the Cobras in their 22-14 win, rushing for 256 yards and the game-winning score on a 73-yard scamper.

The Cobras faced a tough non-conference test when they hosted Albia on September 7, hoping to take the momentum gained from a dominating win a week prior, and finish out with their second win. The conditions favored the Cobras ground-and-pound strategy, which ended up doing just enough to get a 22-14 win.

The Cobras got first possession of the ball but a couple penalties and some early issues getting a handle on the snap put the Cobras in a hole. They gained most of the yardage back but ended up having to punt it away. Albia drove the ball down the field with an open pass play and a couple runs but ran out of steam just inside the red zone.

Albia took an early risk on fourth and nine, but it paid off. In one of the few pass completions on the game, the Albia QB managed to find his open target past the first down line and from there the receiver made it into the end zone for the first score of the game. A missed extra point gave the Demons an early 6-0 lead. The Cobras had some issues moving the ball again and faced a decision on fourth and two. Jared Jensen gambled and put the ball into Carson Crawford’s hands, and he didn’t disappoint. Crawford found a seam in the line and rumbled his way down just outside the end zone before he got tackled. JD Stout punched it in with a QB keeper and Crawford got the two-point conversion, putting SK up 8-6 midway through the first quarter.

Albia faced their own issues with the exchange from center to QB, which was a common occurrence between both sides. The Cobras recovered the fumble early in the Demons’ drive to give SK the ball back in the red zone. Before they could get anything going for themselves, the Cobras turned the ball over with a fumble of their own. The defense stood strong for SK, with Albia starting the second quarter with a third and long situation. After getting the ball back, the Cobras found themselves unable to move the ball forward and had to punt. Crawford booted a deep kick, which got the crowd going, but a huge return from Albia silenced them as he took it the distance.

The second quarter ended as the pace of play slowed down immensely, with the Cobras stalling out, running out of bounds or throwing incomplete passes in addition to some timeouts being called. Albia had the final possession of the first half, but after minimal yards being gained, they decided to take a knee and go into half, with SK down 8-14.

“That first half was just sloppy. The snaps were good, but the ball was just so slick that our backs kept missing it,” SK coach Jared Jensen said. “We dug ourselves in some holes that we couldn’t get out.”

Albia didn’t get anything going either in the third quarter, which gave the ball back to the Cobras with a chance to eat into the deficit or tie. The offense worked the ball down the field, focusing primarily on the run. A touchdown run by Crawford was negated due to an offensive foul and SK was unable to make anything of that drive to keep the score 8-14.

The Cobras finally got some things to click in the final quarter, with a drive capped off by a long run by Stout. The shifty QB was able to elude the first line of defense and then shrugged off a defender in the secondary. From there it was a foot race, with Stout beating out the defenders rushing to tackle him. The score sparked the Cobra faithful and took some wind away from the Blue Demons sails. That was the crucial turning point that SK needed to turn the tide, as the defense ratcheted up their efforts to give their offense a chance to take the lead.

“We started to impose our will a little more and we were getting the yards we needed. With our offense, if we get 3.5 yards per attempt, that’s a win for us,” Jensen said. “Our kids executed and made it happen.”

The Cobras set up shop at the 27-yard line, hoping to run some time off the clock and finish out with a score. They managed to do one of those as Crawford took a similar path to Stout, busting through the defensive line to find lots of green space near the sideline. His sheer speed did the rest as he sprinted for down to the goal line behind a raucous crowd and his teammates on the sideline cheering in excitement. The huge play gave the Cobras the lead, and a two-point conversion made the score 22-14, with just under eight minutes left.

Albia faced another quick three and out, which was aided by an early bobbled snap for a loss of yards. Defensive pass interference moved the ball a couple yards shy of the first down marker, but a resilient defense held the running back in check for no gain on third down. The Blue Demons were forced to punt with just over five minutes remaining. SK was able to hold on by getting crucial first downs with their running game to run out the clock and win a tiresome and emotional game.

“We took another huge step after this game. That win was all heart,” Jensen said. “We told our guys at half that in their last two games, Albia had the lead at the half and lost it late, so we just had to keep grinding away. Our kids took that as a challenge and just made some more plays late.”

Crawford led the way with 262 yards on the ground, averaging just shy of nine yards per carry, and scored once. Stout had 66 yards of rushing to go along with a couple scores and Brady Duwa added on 20 yards on the ground for the offense. Zech Boender continued to lead the defense with 5.5 tackles, two solo tackles and one tackle for a loss of yards. Stout had 4.5 tackles, four solo tackles and one for a loss of yards while Trent Hendricks registered 3.5 tackles, two solo tackles and assisted on a sack. As a team, the Cobras had three tackles for loss of yards and two assisted sacks.

“That game was a morale booster and a huge team win,” Jensen said. “It took all four quarters and every single minute. Maturity wise, it was a huge learning process for guys that haven’t been in a game that tight and found a way to win. That will be huge for us the rest of the season.”

Up next for SK is a road match against Eddyville-Blakesburg Fremont on September 14. The Rockets and Cobras both enter with a 2-1 record.