BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MT. PLEASANT – Mt. Pleasant breaks out of each huddle behind imposing 6’6″ 335 lb. tackle Henry Lutovsky. But it was the 5’11 Logan Bass the proved to be too much to stop for the Bloodhounds Friday night.
The Panthers (6-2) evened the season for Fort Madison (4-4) with a 35-10 loss at the MapleLeaf Sports Complex, setting the table for an upcoming season finale against Keokuk (5-3) this Friday.
With a win, the Hounds will break a span of nine years without a winning season going back to the 5-4 2010 squad.
The Panthers set the tone early that they were going to make Fort Madison stop the run. After a quick 3 and out to start the game, Mt. Pleasant took over at the their own 41 and handed the ball to Bass twice. A 14-yard carry on 2nd and 6 was nullified by an illegal block.
Panthers’ quarterback Brody Bender then handed to Jack Johnson for an 11-yard carry off tackle. He then would hook up on a rare completion on the night with Brevin Wilson for a first down.
Bass would then take over from the 29 and get free into the secondary, but would be chased down by Diego Lozano at the nine. Two plays later he would slide in from the five for the score.
The Panthers had 44 yards on the ground on four carries with the offensive line controlling things up front.
We knew their offensive line was good…they were big and good, and yeah, they proved it,” Head Coach Derek Doherty said.
“They’re a really good football team. No disrespect to them, but we lack consistency and it really was exposed tonight to a team that doesn’t lack consistency… It’s a huge missing piece for us right now and it’s really getting in our way.”
Fort Madison would respond with a nice drive highlighted by a couple key completions from junior quarterback Will Larson who found Parker Denning for 13 yards on a 3rd and 5 from the 32. Two plays later Larson threw a swing pass to the right and Johnson jumped the route and would have had a pick six, but took his eyes off the ball and it bounced off his hands out of bounds forcing a Hound punt.
The defense would hold Mt. Pleasant on the next series when Bender threw incomplete at 4th and 2 at the Fort Madison 48.
After an incompletion on 1st and 10 and a Lozano carry for naught, Larson stepped up on the pocket and hit Quentin Schneider for a dozen to add to Fort Madison’s 36 on 3rd and 10.
Larson and Califf would then hook up on a swing pass in front of the Fort Madison bench and Califf would get free for 15 yards. Mt. Pleasant would get on Larson in the back field on the next play for a 5-yard loss. On 2nd and 15, Larson dropped back and found junior Brock Califf down a middle seam and threw over the Panthers’ secondary to Califf in stride at the two, but the ball bounced off his hands into the endzone.
Landes Williams came in for the 34-yard field goal and connected on one that probably would have been good from 45.
But Mt. Pleasant would respond in just three plays after bringing Williams’ kick back to the Fort Madison 38. Johnson would break off two five-yard runs on 1st and 2nd down and then Bass would go off tackle for 28 yards and the Panthers were up 14-3.
Fort Madison took the ensuing kick at the 38, but two players later a Thumper Wood snap would go right and Larson couldn’t find the handle and Mt. Pleasant jumped on it. Three plays later Bass went in again untouched through the middle of the Hounds’ defense for a 21-3 lead.
Fort Madison would get just a 4 and out on its next possession and then Mt. Pleasant would chew up the rest of the first half on a 14-play, 80-yard drive where Bass would get 25 yards on six carries including a two-yard plunge right to set the score at 28-3 going in to the lockerroom.
Out of the half, as has been the case for most of the year, the Hounds defense picked up and only allowed one score to the Panthers the rest of the way.
“I’m not sure why our guys like to get chewed on at halftime, but they seem to respond to it. Maybe we need a pregame chew on ’em. But in all honesty its the same old song and dance, challenged their attitude and effort because they didn’t respond in the first,” Doherty said.
Fort Madison forced a punt in Mt. Pleasant’s first possession and then put together a, 11-play, drive that brought the ball to the Hounds’ 27. But on 4th and 5, Larson was picked off by Wilson on a ball thrown toward Parker at the sidelines in coverage.
Mt. Pleasant would get their final score on yet another run, this time from five yards out by Bass.
Neither team would score again until Larson would find Lozano on a short screen and the senior would get free through the secondary and down the Mt. Pleasant sideline for a 70-yard touchdown reception. Williams would add the kick setting the final score at 35-10.
Larson was 9-21 for 116 yards and a score and had several other large gains wiped out with some dropped balls and overthrows.
“We’ve had it in our playbook and it’s nothing new, but it’s just week-by-week what we think we can pull off the menu.
Our receivers did a nice job getting on top of them. Not that I didn’t think we could, but we did. It’s just that consistency piece of missing throws and missed those catches and that’s just where we’re at right now.”
Doherty said now the team will set its sights on a winning season with the Chiefs coming into town for the final game of the season and Homecoming…. and senior night.
“That’s a good football team coming to Fort Madison who’s going to look to spoil our night. If we lack that consistency again, it could happen. But I believe in our guys and our system and our coaches will go home and get to work and we’ll have a game plan ready,” Doherty said.
The Hounds managed 66 yards on the ground in 20 carries. Lozano led the way on defense with 11 tackles, six solo and one of those was for a loss. Junior Levi Lowney had eight on the night.
Bass finished with 164 yards on 21 carries and five touchdowns to lead Mt. Pleasant.
Homecoming activities for the Bloodhounds this week are listed on the school’s website.