Story updated 1:05 p.m. with official stats
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – You have to go back almost two years for a Fort Madison win on the football field, but the Hounds came back in a big way Friday night.
The Hounds opened up Class 3A district 6 high school action strapping Davis County with a 39-0 shut out.
Senior Alex Gully, who head coach Tony Shiffman called a “mean runner” Friday night, led the Bloodhounds on the ground with 133 yards on 19 carries including three touchdowns. One on the first possession of the game.
Shiffman, who handles the offensive play calling for the Hounds, reached into his bag of tricks on the first play from scrimmage. Junior signal caller Lennon Barker took a shotgun snap and threw to his right to senior Shane Redd-Donald who then found Logan Allen for a 23 yard half-back pass to start the game.
The play sent a quick message to the Mustangs that the Hounds were game for about anything. Back-to-back 5 yard runs off the right side behind senior Elijah Barnes had the Hounds moving. A fumble in the backfield on the next play was recovered by Fort Madison and then Gully carried again up the middle for three yards. The Hounds kept the ball on the ground and Barker took a keeper to the right for five more yards.
A Davis County penalty gave Fort Madison half the distance to the goal. Gully bulled his way in again for three more hard earned yards. Barker then just missed a sliding Lorenzo Riles in the middle of the endzone, but Gully cleaned it up on third down for his first score and then the Hounds had a 6-0 lead after one of several botched PATs on the night.
The Mustangs got a first down on their first possession but the Hounds front four, anchored by Dalton Mabeus, made running up the middle very tough for the visitors. On 4th and 8 Davis County stepped into punt formation, but Barnes got a paw on the ball for the block and FM recovered deep in Davis County territory.
Barker took an 8-yard sack on 1st and 10 and an illegal motion penalty pushed the Hounds back, but then Barker found Redd-Donald on a 29-yard pass play down to the Mustang’s 10. Shiffman gave Gully the ball on the next two carries and he pushed his way in from two yards out to give the Hounds a 12-0 lead. Barker found Allen in the right corner for the 2-point conversion and the Hounds were in business 14-0 with 3:54 left in the first quarter.
The Hounds kicked off, Davis County got a two-yard run from Collen Allen on the first play and then coughed up the leather on 2nd and 8. The Hounds marched right back down the field. Two more penalties, of 13 total on the night for the Hounds, weren’t enough to slow the Hounds on the drive, highlighted by a 15-yard hookup from Barker to Redd-Donald and Redd-Donald’s 28-yard carry where he was just tripped up by the Mustang’s Owen Bennett at the four.
Sophomore Diego Lozano who ran tough in the gaps giving Gully breathers, punched it in on the next play. The PAT was mishandled again and the Hounds were up 20-0.
Davis County only got two plays in the next offensive set before Sam Hayes picked off a JR Zeitler pass and ran it back to the Mustang’s 16. It appeared the Hounds wouldn’t take advantage of the turnover as an incomplete pass, a Gully loss of three yards and another procedure penalty had the Hounds at 4th and 18. Barker again located Redd-Donald in the center of the endzone for a 24-yard touchdown and the Hounds held a comfortable 26-0 lead with close to 9 minutes left in the half.
The Mustangs were able to get a sustained drive on their next possession with Allen doing most of the work on the ground moving the chains three times before an illegal motion penalty and a false start had them at 4th and 14 and an incomplete pass gave the ball back to the Hounds.
Three straight runs from Gully chewed up 31 yards and had the Hounds 1st and 10 at the 46 yard line. After another penalty, Barker found Redd-Donald again for 7 yards and then took a keeper for another seven, before Lozano ran up the middle for five and Gully went off the right side for 9, 4, and 7 on three straight runs. Yet another illegal motion penalty and two incomplete passes forced the Hounds to turn the ball over on downs with :43 left in the half.
The Mustangs ran one play and then let the half expire.
Shiffman said he told the team at halftime this is how he expected them to play.
“I told these guys at halftime that this is what I expected of them. I thought we could have had 35 or 40, but I expected that truthfully. This was not a big surprise to me,” Shiffman said after the game.
The second half started much the same for the Mustangs as they took the second half kick back to the 27, ran a one-yard play off right tackle and then fumbled on the next play with the Hounds recovering. Shiffman threw a curve at Davis County and sent Gully around the left end and he was off to the races for a 28-yard touchdown. The Hounds again failed on the 2-point conversion, but were up 32-0.
“Alex has been running angry all summer and when he wants the ball I want to give it him,” said Shiffman. “We also got some good runs from Diego Lozano as a sophomore. He really ran hard for us. We did a lot of things well in the running game tonight.”
Gully said the play was the perfect call.
“Coached called power left, the left side was weak all night and it was wide open and I ran with all my intentions and went in untouched,” Gully said.
The crimson and black put the last score up when Barker and Redd-Donald hooked up on a 38-yard touchdown into the east endzone. Gully started the drive with a 20-yard run. Fort Madison got flagged again for moving before the snap, but Lozano took the next two carries 18 yards. Barker looked to Allen behind the secondary, but Allen collided moving on the ball with a Mustang and was called for offensive pass interference.
That didn’t sit well with Fort Madison so they just aired it out again on the next play and Barker found Redd-Donald again for a 38-yard touchdown. AJ Nolting hit the extra point and the Hounds set the final at 39-0.
Redd-Donald finished the game with 141 yards on seven receptions and two touchdowns. Barker went 9 of 17 for 161 yards, two touchdowns, a two-point conversion pass, and no interceptions. He was sacked three times in the contest.
Gully finished the night with 22 carries, 157 yards, and three touchdowns and gave credit to the offensive line for blowing open holes, especially senior Elijah Barnes who hasn’t played in two years.
“We weren’t expecting a game like that. If we were kept in the game we would have won by 60. Elijah is a helluva good blocker,” Gully said.
Barnes said it was fun being back on the field with his friends and he had a good feeling coming into the evening.
“It feels amazing. I’m glad to come out and play with all my teammates that I’ve been playing ball with since I was a kid,” Barnes said.
“I felt this right out of the gate. Right out of the locker room I knew we were gonna win this game. It was a great team effort, everyone did what they were supposed to do and it led to the goose egg.”
Shiffman said the shutout was a testament to the defensive staff and the energy of the kids.
“That’s huge. That’s Luke Rickelman calling a great game and our entire defense staff and personnel busting our ass and making it important. One of our goals was to get a shutout and we got it.”
Rickelman said he wasn’t necessarily expecting a shut out in the first game, but he did have expectations for his squad.
“I didn’t necessarily expect us to get the shutout right out of the gate, but I did expect my kids to play hard and they did it. They played almost a perfect game,” he said.
“We planned for what we saw last year and the kids executed it perfectly. We had a great week of practice – the kids took to it well and I think it showed what we can do.”
Rickelman said Dalton Mabeus dominated the line of scrimmage and made it very difficult to run or get anything going. He also said Sam Hayes had a great night and Redd-Donald came and made some big hits from his safety spot.
“Overall, they didn’t pass a lot but our DBs locked them down. You just can’t single out one person, this really was a total team effort.”
The Hounds are 1-0 on the young season and host Central Lee next Friday night in another home game.