OTTUMWA — It was a tale of two halves for the Ottumwa football team Friday at Schafer Stadium.
The Bulldogs looked flat and out of sorts in the first half, but they managed to turn things completely around in the second half on their way to a 33-3 non-division victory. And it all started with the opening kickoff. Despite the boys’ lethargic start, they still led 13-0 at halftime thanks to a fumble recovery by Collin Schulz that turned into a touchdown late in the half.
Griffiths then caught the second-half kickoff at his own two, found a hole and headed for daylight. No one got a hand on him until the very end of his run, but he managed to wriggle free of the defender on his way to the end zone.
“That got us going,” starting linebacker Chris Peden said.
The kickoff return revitalized the Bulldogs’ defense who unleashed a slew of bone-crunching hits on the Panthers’ offensive players. Logan McCarty set the tone for rest of the half by crushing Mount Pleasant’s kickoff returner at the Panthers’ own 18-yard line in the kickoff following the Griffiths’ touchdown. After the play Ottumwa relentlessly tracked down Mount Pleasant’s backfield for losses.
“Our defense is about being tough and we showed that tonight,” safety Shawn Foster said.
Later in the third, Ottumwa began moving the chains on offense. Griffiths caught a short pass and took it all the way to the Panthers’ one before being brought down — but not before he delivered a blow of his own to his tackler. Moments later, Griffiths scored from one yard out to make it 27-0 after Justin Vonderhaar booted in the extra point.
Ottumwa’s stifling defense forced Mount Pleasant to punt deep in its own territory, which led to Tyler Johns returning the punt all the way to the Ottumwa 18. The Bulldogs took advantage of the short field with a successful drive that culminated with a four-yard touchdown run by Alec Maas.
Mount Pleasant drove deep into the red zone in the fourth and appeared to be on the verge of scoring a touchdown, but the Bulldog defense managed to stop them. A Cole Ecklund sack forced the Panthers to settle for a 19-yard field goal by Liam Clancy.
“Pfantz told us to take pride in the shutout,” Peden said.
Ottumwa’s offensive trouble in the first half stemmed from a pair of interceptions and a slew of bad snaps. The Bulldogs, however, managed to make the proper adjustments at halftime and snaps were not a factor in the second half.
Aside from Schulz fumble recovery Ottumwa’s only touchdown score in the first was a two-yard touchdown run by Griffiths.
The Bulldogs (2-1) play Des Moines East at Schafer Stadium Friday.
Ottumwa 33, Mount Pleasant 3
Moun 0 0 0 3 — 3
Ottu 0 13 20 0 — 33
Scoring By Quarters
O — Seth Griffiths 95-yard run (Justine Vonderhaar kick) 1:13.
O — Collin Schulz 7 yard fumble recovery (Vonderhaar kick no good) 1:30.
O — Griffiths 98-yard kickoff return (Vonderhaar kick) 11:42.
O — Griffiths 1-yard run (Vonderhaar kick) 5:06.
O — Alec Maas 4-yard run (Vanderhaar kick blocked) 1:41.
MP — Liam Clancy 19-yard field goal 8:03.
First downs 7 15
Rushes-yards 39-146 30-35
Passing yards 60 90
Total Yards 53-236 42-95
Comp-Att-Int 14-7-2 12-7-0
Return Yards 6-203 9-154
Fumbles-Lost 0-0 1-1
Penalties-Yds 6-51 2-14
RUSHING — Josh Larson 19-47 yards, Noah Brown 1-3 yards, Liam Clancy 1-0 yards, Connor Shull 9-(-15).
PASSING — Connor Shull 7-12, 60 yards.
RECEIVING — Alex O’Donnell 3-25 yards, Carson Remick 2-22 yards, Dalton Conrad 1-22 yards.
INTERCEPTIONS — Dustin Amos.
RUSHING — Seth Griffiths 16-54 yards, Alec Maas 11-37 yards, Alex Goodvin 7-90 yards, Jake Huebner 2-7 yards.
PASSING — Goodvin 7-14, 90 yards.
RECEIVING — Griffiths 3-45 yards, Kyle Keck 2-30 yards, Maas 2-15
TACKLES — Logan McCarty 9.