BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
KEOKUK – Fort Madison Head football Coach Tony Shiffman said on Wednesday he wanted to open up some holes and let senior tailback Alex Gully run at Keokuk.
Gully, who missed last week’s loss to Fairfield on a disciplinary issue, ran wild all over the Chiefs in a 48-24 rout Friday night at Keokuk’s Calvert Stadium in front of a good crowd of Bloodhound fans.
Gully rushed 25 times for 354 yards and five touchdowns and had another 44-yard touchdown run called back on a holding penalty in the second period that resulted in a stalled drive.
The Hounds scored quick and often in the first quarter opening up a 20 point lead with less than five minutes gone in the first quarter. Fort Madison took the opening kickoff from the 34 yard line in 10 plays before Gully slashed his way in from 13 yards after quarterback Lennon Barker found his favorite target, Shance Redd-Donald, on a 16-yard hookup to set up the scoring run.
The Hounds then forced a quick four and out from Keokuk’s 38 and started their second drive on a poor Chief’s punt. Barker and Lorenzo Riles II couldn’t hook up on 1st and 10, but Gully got seven yards on the next snap, before Barker found Redd-Donald open down the right side for a 31-yard touchdown.
The Chiefs couldn’t get anything going on their next possession and were forced to punt on 4th and 10 from the 20. Redd-Donald took the kick at the Hounds’ 34-yard line and rushed up the right side all the way back to the Fort Madison 20. Gully took the next handoff on 1st and 10 to the endzone and the Bloodhounds were up 20-0.
After the kickoff, the Bloodhounds’ defense stepped up with a sack and a tackle for a loss leaving the Chiefs facing 3rd and 22. An incomplete pass forced a punt that gave the Hounds the ball at the Keokuk 35. A holding penalty at 1st and 10 made it 1st and 24. Gully rushed for four and then Barker and Redd-Donald hooked up on a 40-yard pass play to the Chief’s five-yard line. The Hounds tried a quick pass to Riles II, but he was tackled for a loss on the 10. Barker scrambled on 2nd and goal to his right and found Logan Allen in the back of the endzone for a Hounds score.
The song remained the same through the first quarter as the Hounds forced Keokuk into another quick four and out, but the Chiefs punt pinned Fort Madison at their own 5. Shiffman called on Gully on the first play and broke for a 39-yard scamper to the 44. After a penalty and a couple runs for no gain, Gully stretched a run left and gained another 20 yards. Barker found Quentin Estrada for a 13-yard pass and then hit Allen again for a five-yard gain before Gully got his third touchdown just minutes into the second quarter.
Keokuk got a first down on their next possession but turned the ball back over to Fort Madison at their 47 when freshman Corey Skinner threw incomplete on 4th and 5. Shiffman started mixing in Sheymouhr Redd-Donald in the backfield and he carried twice for for 18 yards, but the second carry was nullified on a holding penalty. The Hounds got the ball to the 24, but turned it over on downs.
The Chiefs threw on first down and Nick Carter picked off Skinner down the right side and the Hounds were back in business. But the Chiefs defense had a rare hold forcing Barker to punt. The Chiefs had two incompletions and a 5-yard sack by Alec Craft forced a punt. The Hounds scored on a seven yard run by Gully on the sixth play of the drive.
The Chiefs would bring the kickoff back to the 25. Two big receptions, one by Keokuk’s Matt Wyatt for 19 yards and then a 36-yard strike to Anthony Potratz, cut the Fort Madison lead to 41-8. Potratz escaped a tackle after about 8 yards and then tight-roped the sidelines before outracing Shance Redd-Donald to the pylon on the last play of the half.
Shiffman played his starters for just under a full period in the second half, giving way to some back up players, but not before Gully punched in another score from one-yard out to make it 48-8.
Keokuk was able to get some points on the board with the Hounds second team getting some playing time, but the game was firmly in hand.
Barker finished the game 13 of 23 for 145 yards, two TDs, and no interceptions. He now has thrown for 1190 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year.
Shance Redd-Donald had four catches for 95 yards and a touchdown. Allen had three catches for 11 yards and the score. Redd-Donald and Tyler O’Tool each had four tackles to lead the Hounds defensively.
Gully said he was motivated to bring the coveted Keokuk/Fort Madison trophy chair back to Fort Madison.
“There’s so much history and so much competition in this and it made me drive. We haven’t had that chair in like 10 years and I wanted to get that back for us,” he said after the game.
“I was seeing huge holes and even when I didn’t see holes I wanted to make plays.”
The Hounds take on a Washington team that knocked off Oskaloosa 51-42 on Friday. Gully said that will be a test but he’s ready for it.
“That’s going to be a tough game, but they’re not the team they have been in the past. It can be can be winnable game but it’s gonna be a battle,” he said.”
Shiffman said the offense found room to move and if there wasn’t room, the Hounds found room.
“Truthfully, we were a little intimidated by their defensive front and we weren’t quite sure we’d be able to get those holes. Even when some of their guys went unblocked – Alex just wanted it tonight. If we’d had him last week – you think ‘what if’…but you can’t live on ‘what ifs’.
Shiffman said at 4-4, his Hounds haven’t met their goals and have a big game in front of them next week.
“It’s a winning season if we win,” he said. “4-5 is not what our goal was. This is our superbowl next Friday and we want to come out 5-4 and I want to reach those goals. I want this team to reach their goals.”