Playoffs! Bulldogs down Roosevelt, earn date with Valley
October 23, 2011Ottumwa High School
DES MOINES — Drake Stadium will always hold a special place in Ron Forney’s heart.
One of the best nights of his life, for sure.
Forney’s four touchdowns — one on a 30-yard fumble return — helped keep a season alive for his Ottumwa Bulldogs.
Ottumwa — in must-win mode to reach the playoffs — vaulted into the first round of the playoffs with a game 35-27 victory over a resilient Des Moines Roosevelt Roughrider squad on Friday.
The regular season finale saw Ottumwa stumble in with just two wins and endanger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Ottumwa's 3-6 mark is the first losing record for a Bulldog squad in 21 years.
That all doesn’t matter now.
Ottumwa shoots to the top of the ladder to take on perennial-power and top-ranked West Des Moines Valley (9-0) at Valley Stadium on Wednesday in the first round of the Class 4A Playoffs.
That game against Gary Swenson's Tiger powerhouse is a rematch from week two — where the Tigers had their way with Ottumwa, mauling head coach Zach Wigle's Bulldogs, 42-7.
That game can wait.
Forney — a Bulldog senior — came up huge in what could have been his final prep game. He entered the do-or-die, playoff-elimination fray with 11 rushing yards on four carries with one score. Update that stat line.
Forney — a Bulldog wrestler at OHS — powered his way across the goal line, carrying tacklers into the end zone on three bruising scores.
“The best game of my life,” said Forney, who picked up a fumble after Bulldog linebacker Alec Maas ripped Roughrider quarterback Drew Wineski to the turf, jarring the ball loose.
Forney was able to show off his speed on that defensive game-changer and send it home for six with 13 ticks left on the first-quarter clock.
“I never thought I was going to be a big help on that to be honest with you,” said Forney talking about how critical he was in allowing Ottumwa the chance for a 10th game. "But I am."
Ottumwa (3-6, 3-2) raced out to a 21-0 lead after Forney’s three first-half scores.
But Roosevelt — which, like Ottumwa, would have qualified for the postseason with a victory — didn’t back down from adversity or the challenge.
Roosevelt (3-7, 2-3) hasn’t made the playoffs in 15 years (1996) and almost orchestrated an incredible victory on Senior Night for the Rougriders.
Bryant Johnson’s incredible 31-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone right before halftime put Roosevelt on the board. Johnson — a school record holder in receiving yardage for DMR — had a miraculous one-handed catch later on the game for 31 yards. He hauled in the pass with his left hand as he was falling down to the field turf. He was all alone right sideline after a double pass from Jelly Sabastiano put it in the end zone from 80 yards out with 8:22 to go in the game. Roosevelt trimmed Ottumwa's lead to 28-20 with that trick play. That crowd pleaser came one play after Seth Griffiths was all alone by himself on a wide-open 50-yard pass out of the backfield from Alex Goodvin.
Forney’s bulldozing seven-yard touchdown made it 35-20, Ottumwa, with 5:41 to go.
Sabastiano would haul in two touchdown passes and score Roosevelt’s last touchdown with 4:31 left on the clock.
Ottumwa was able to run out the clock to salt the game away after Sabastiano's last jaunt into the end zone.
Johnson ended up with 183 yards on six grabs.
Griffiths, a junior tailback who set up a Bulldog score with a 43-yard kickoff return, thinks his Bulldog team can feed off the energy created by this big win.
“We’ve got some momentum now. We're going to take it to Valley Stadium,” said Griffiths, who rushed for 61 yards.
Wineski threw for 211 yards on 13-19 passing, but was picked off by OHS senior Ben Kramer twice.
Kramer, one of the state’s best athletes, was relatively held in check on the offensive side of the ball. But he did haul in a 35-yard pass from Goodvin and rush for 42 yards.
OHS junior fullback Alec Maas once again found holes up the middle. He pounded out a team-leading 77 yards on the ground.
Wigle summed up big win for his team.
“We played better tonight,” said Wigle. “As a whole, it’s better. I’m not sure it’s our best. Hopefully we’ll play our best on Wednesday.”
Ottumwa 35, Des Moines Roosevelt 27
OTT 14 7 0 14 - 35
DMR 0 7 7 13 - 27
O - Ron Forney 4 run (Guillermo Rodriguez kick) 1:25
O - Forney 30 fumble return (Rodriguez kick) 0:13
O - Forney 3 run (Rodriguez kick) 3:20
R - Bryant Johnson 31 pass from Drew Wineski (Michael Groth kick) 0:22
R - Jelly Sabastiano 5 pass from Wineski (Groth kick) 3:56
O - Seth Griffiths 50 pass from Alex Goodvin (Rodriguez kick) 8:37
R - Johnson 80 pass from Sabastiano (kick failed) 8:22
O - Forney 7 run (Groth kick) 5:41
R - Sabastiano 26 pass from Wineski (Nick Moore kick) 4:31
Ottumwa Rushing - 54-207. Passing - 4-7-115. Total - 322.
Des Moines Roosevelt Rushing - 21-106. Passing 14-20-291. Total - 397.
Rushing - Alec Maas 17-77, Ben Kramer 14-42, Seth Griffiths 12-61, Ron Forney 6-32, Alex Goodvin 5-(-5).
Passing - Goodvin 3-6-98, Kramer 1-1-17, Kurtis Miller 1-17, Adam VanFleet 1-13.
Interceptions - 2.