Comets almost capture win

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, October 18, 2017
During their final home game of the season, West Liberty made district undefeated Mount Vernon sweat Friday, Oct. 16, despite taking a loss 27-34.

The Comets scored four touchdowns in the first half, three of which came from senior Joe Kelly. Kelly was on fire, running the ball for a total of 178 yards.

Unfortunately, the Comets were unable to keep Mount Vernon offense at bay in the second half. The Mustangs may have been down, but they were never out of it.

“The difference in the two halves was execution,” said West Liberty head coach Jason Iske.

“On offense, we made the blocks we needed and had success finding receivers for chunk gains,” he said. “In the second half, we didn't and couldn't get into a rhythm.”

Kelly’s first touchdown came off of a 30-yard run in the first quarter; his second a 70 yard carry in the second quarter.

His final touchdown came in the second quarter with a four-yard run, while Seth Feldman squeezed in the Comets' final touchdown with a one yard carry.

On the defensive side, the Comets were able to shut down the Mustangs in the first half thanks to tackles from Elias Rocha, Cobain Polman, Michael Hartman, Coy Ruess and Bryce Esmoil.

They also kept the Mustangs' passing game to a minimum the first two quarters.

“For most of the game, our pass defense was good; however, we allowed too many big plays,” said Coach Iske. “Every one of their scoring drives was either scored on a long pass play or was a direct result of a long pass play that put them close to the end zone.”

Perhaps the biggest blow of the game to West Liberty was dealt in the second quarter, when Nathan Schemel broke two bones in his left leg.

Both breaks were clean – his tibia and fibula. Schemel had a successful surgery last Saturday and is back home now. Unfortunately, his loss during the game shifted momentum.

“His loss was huge to us because of the type of offense Mount Vernon runs, namely a good passing game,” said Coach Iske.

“We had him on their best receiver and before his injury he had held him to zero catches,” he added. “We were then forced to put guys in positions they hadn't been in before which was tough for us.”

Thus, during the second half, the Comets were unable to score; nor were they able to put up enough defense to maintain their lead.

Going into the second half the Comest were up 27-14, despite the fact that the Mustangs scored first, driving in the kickoff on the first play of the game.

However, the Mustangs managed to tie it up 27-27 three minutes into the third quarter as the Comet defense struggled.

West Liberty worked hard to keep the tie alive, especially when Mount Vernon was called for holding and unsportsmanlike conduct, making it first and 21 on the 41-yard line during the final quarter.

However, two plays later the Mustangs made the big pass. After the kick was good, it was Mount Vernon 27-34, which ended up being the final score of the game.

“Credit Mount Vernon and their ability to field multiple players, especially linemen, who only go one way,” said coach Iske. “Their use of the up-tempo no-huddle offense is a decisive advantage to them as I thought our linemen were more fatigued than theirs.”

Despite the loss, the Comets overall record is 5-3 this 2017 season. They are currently 4-2 in Class 2A District 5, behind Mount Vernon and Williamsburg.

The good news is that postseason hopes are not gone for West Liberty.

Top team’s Mount Vernon and Williamsburg play each other this Friday, Oct. 20, while West Liberty plays at Camanche at 7 p.m.

If Williamsburg loses and West Liberty wins, it would be enough to put West Liberty’s record over Williamsburg, thus making it into the postseason.

“It's tough to come back and play an opponent that is 1-7 after playing two of the best teams in the state, especially a 1-7 team that is playing it's best football this year,” says coach Iske.

“We just have to stay focused and take this week as any other week of the season,” he added. “We have to prepare like this is the most important game of the season.”

Stats

WL   7   20   0   0   27

MV   7   7    13  7   34

1st Q - Joe Kelly (#15) 30 yd run (Byrce Esmoil (#55) XP Good)

2nd Q - Kelly (#15) 70 yd run (Esmoil (#55) XP Good)

2nd Q - Kelly (#15) 4 yd run (Esmoil (#55) XP No Good)

2nd Q - Seth Feldman 1 yd run (Esmoil (#55) XP Good)

Team Rush - (-1 yd)

Kickoff

Bryce Esmoil (#55) - 5 for 200 yds

Kickoff Return

Joe Kelly (#15) - 4 for 75 yds

Tanner Iske (#1) - 1 for 15 yds

Punt

Bryce Esmoil (#55) - 7 for 232 yds

Fumble Recovery

Cobain Polman (#5) - 1 for 0 yds

First Downs - 9

Penalties - 3 for 42 yds
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