Posted on 13 September 2014.
When three of the first five plays are kickoffs, you begin to feel like whoever has the ball last will win the game.
It actually worked out that way.
But the Decatur Eagles really won Friday night’s game in Iowa Park with some hard work down in the trenches, surviving the scrappy Hawks 39-34 to bump their season record to 2-1.
“We knew it was going to be like this,” Decatur coach Mike Fuller said after the game. “They came out sky-high and pretty much threw the kitchen sink at us. They showed us just about every trick play, a lot of emotion and intensity.”
Iowa Park ran the opening kickoff back 92 yards, but the Eagles answered three plays later when quarterback Justin Myers hit Felix Guerrero on a pass play that went 68 yards.
The Hawks scored again on a 42-yard quarterback keeper by Westyn Swenson less than two minutes later.
But the Eagles shut them out in the second quarter while scoring a couple of touchdowns of their own.
“I think we might have come out a little flat,” Fuller said. “We made a lot of silly mistakes early, but I think we settled down.”
On a cool, windy night on the new turf in the Hawks’ stadium, the Eagles battled back and took the lead 20 seconds before halftime.
They didn’t get to relax until Myers took a knee twice to kill the last minute. They never did put the Hawks away.
Payton McAlister rushed for 166 yards on 31 carries, scoring four touchdowns. Only one of those scores came on the ground.
The big sophomore caught scoring passes covering 50, 34 and 16 yards, picking his way downfield behind good blocking, breaking for daylight when he saw it, and refusing to go down on the first contact.
“He did a good job,” Fuller said.”The offensive line and Eddie Martinez coming in as a blocking back really did a good job, too.
“I really was proud of our offensive line, the way they controlled the line of scrimmage,” he added. “And we made enough plays on defense that we came out with the win.”
The Eagles were flagged five times in the second half, getting called for a late hit out of bounds, roughing the kicker on a field-goal attempt, and a couple of holding calls.
But Iowa Park earned a few flags, too, roughing Myers on a touchdown toss and celebrating a little too much after a touchdown of their own.
The game’s craziest play came when Swenson made a backward pass to running back Landon Kimbro, who did not catch it. He picked up the live ball, however, and heaved it 34 yards to Cole Oxford, who was so alone he could have called a fair catch.
He was tackled at the 1 after waiting for the ball to come down. Swenson ran it in a few plays later.
In the end, however, it was the Eagles’ strength and speed that proved unstoppable.
“We just tried to kind of mix it up a little bit, running some inside, some outside, throwing it a little bit,” Fuller said. “On a night when it’s real windy like this, it’s kind of tough to be super accurate throwing the ball.
“I’m really proud of them.”
DECATUR 39, IOWA PARK 34
Decatur … 6 … 13 … 6 … 14 … – … 39
Iowa Park … 14 … 0 … 6 … 14 … – … 34
Iowa Park – 11:45, Jared Biddy 92 kickoff return, Bailey Hale kick good
Decatur – 10:33, Felix Guerrero 68 pass from Justin Myers, PAT kick blocked
Iowa Park – 8:36, Westyn Swenson 42 run, Hale kick
Decatur – 9:22, Payton McAlister 1 run, PAT run failed
Decatur – 0:20, McAlister 50 pass from Myers, Brandon Garza kick
Iowa Park – 4:13, Swenson 17 run, PAT pass failed
Decatur – 1:10, McAlister 34 pass from Myers, PAT failed
Decatur – 6:44, Myers 24 run, Garza kick
Iowa Park – 4:57, Swenson 1 run, Hale kick
Decatur – 3:06, McAlister 16 pass from Myers, Garza kick
Iowa Park – 2:28, Hale 12 pass from Swenson, Hale kick
DECATUR … IOWA PARK
First downs … 24 … 20
Rushes-Yards … 50-278 … 41-205
Passing Yards … 223 … 146
Total Yards … 501 … 351
Comp-Att-Int … 9-18-0 … 7-14-1
Punts-Avg … 1-13 … 5-35
Fumbles-Lost … 1-1 … 0-0
Penalties-Yards … 8-64 … 5-65
Rushing: Decatur, Payton McAlister, 31-166, Justin Myers 18-80. Iowa Park, Westyn Swenson 23-94
Receiving: Decatur, McAlister 4-86, Ryan Durdon 2-27. Iowa Park, Cole Oxford 2-71
Passing: Decatur, Myers 9-18-0-223. Swenson 6-13-1-112.