The Blue Demon football team on Friday moved past a .500 record for the first time in three years with a three-overtime 33-32 victory over Davis County. The Mustangs fall to 2-5 on the season. The Blue Demons move to 4-3. But it didn’t feel like Albia was playing a 2-5 team. It felt like the Mustangs were heading to the playoffs, particularly in measuring their ability to rush the football.
Davis County’s senior quarterback Draven Dekraai shredded Albia’s defense for 244 yards rushing on 36 carries, scoring two touchdowns, one on a 77-yard run to start the game. The Mustangs rushed for a total of 369 yards, but struggled passing, picking up only 43 yards and giving up three interceptions.
“It’s not that we played poorly in the first half,” said Coach Justin Huber. “There were just a lot of little things, missed blocks, not catching the ball cleanly, not pursuing their quarterback properly, that hurt us early on.”
At one point in the game Davis County led 20-7 and things were looking dire for the Blue Demons until special teams and defense rose to the occasion.
But the Blue Demons owned the last quarter and a half and pushed the game into overtime with a Jer McAninch touchdown. Davis County got the ball first and Dekraai was intercepted by Nate Crall. Albia took over and Blake Chance was intercepted.
In the second overtime, Owen Bennett carried four times and scored to give Davis County a 26-20 lead and a PAT completion was negated by an ineligible receiver penalty. On the next try Nathaniel Wynn intercepted.
Albia picked up five in the second overtime by Dawson Hermsen and then Blake Chance hit Crall for the score. With the rain falling, a high snap caused Wilson to hesitate and his potentially winning PAT kick went wide left.
In the third overtime the Mustangs got the ball first and Dekraai needed one play to score to give Davis County a 32-26 lead, but their PAT kick was blocked. Chance, who had a career high 11 rushes in the game, decided to take a play out of Dekraai’s play book and sprinted around end to tie the score at 32. The rain was coming down harder as Wilson lined up for another kick and this time the snap was perfect, the hold by Crall was perfect and Wilson’s kick split the goal posts for a 33-32 victory for Albia.
“Blake is seeing the field really well,” said Coach Huber. “He rolled out to pass, saw the opening to run and took it. He has grown incredibly as a quarterback.”
Davis County took the kickoff to the 24 and faced a third and 11 at the 23 when Dekaai went back to pass, scrambled and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown to a stunned Albia home town crowd.
Albia came out with a ton of offensive intensity with Blake Chance hitting Nate Crall for three, Dawson Hermsen picking up a first down with an eight-yard run and Blake Stewart catching a Chance pass for 16 yards and a first down at the 41. But the drive fizzled with a 10-yard sack of Chance and Albia punted with 8:00 left in the first quarter.
Davis County looked unstoppable with Garl Norman picking up 52 yards to the Albia 34 and Dekraai scrambling for 24 yards to the Albia 12. Dekraai went back to pass on a third and seven at the nine, was hurried by Doug Flattery and Crall stepped in front of the receiver, intercepted and ran the ball back to the 44.
Hermsen picked up six, Chance hit Beau Leshen with passes of 10 and nine, Hermsen picked up six to the Davis County 25 and Chance hit Crall for 20 to set up a first and goal at the five. The Mustangs jammed up Albia forcing a fourth and goal at the two and Chance responded with a two-yard touchdown pass to Crall. Gage Wilson’s kick was good and Albia led 7-6 with 46 seconds left in the quarter.
It looked like Albia figured Davis County out after a 16-yard gain for first down. The Mustangs faced fourth and nine at the 37, but Dekraai took a fake punt 13 yards for a first down. Hermsen and Leshen sacked Dekraai and the Mustangs punted to the Albia 12. Chance hit Hermsen for 23 yards to the 35, but the drive fizzled and Albia punted.
Starting from their own 25 with 8:28 left in the half, Dekraai got loose for 24 and gained four and seven for a first down at the Albia 33. Dekraai hit Trevor Slayton for a 28-yard gain to the Albia one and Owen Bennett scored with 5:53 left in the half. The PAT pass from Dekraai to McCall gave Davis County a 14-7 lead.
The Blue Demons got the ball at the 36, but went three and out and punted. Davis County picked up a couple of first downs and punted and Albia picked up a first down with a 13-yard completion to Stewart, but punted from their own 38 with 1:44 left in the half. The Mustangs went three and out and punted with :39 left and Albia’s Chance gained 16 yards on a run, but threw incomplete three straight times which ended the half.
“I think we were outcoached in the first half,” said Coach Huber. “We didn’t cover their punting game and their quarterback just killed us running the ball.”
“We made some defensive adjustments at the half, using Beau (Leshen) as a spy on Dekraai,” said Coach Huber. “That really helped to slow down their rushing game. I think we got better as a coaching staff as the game wore on.”
The Blue Demons started with the ball and a 25-yard run by Hermsen was immediately called back on a penalty. Chance threw deep to Wilson and the ball was just out of his reach, forcing a punt at the 10:07 mark.
The Mustangs came out and ran right over the top of Albia with Dekraai gaining eight, nine, eight and two and Norman running for six and another first down. The drive was halted at the 41 and Davis County punted with 5:56 left in the quarter. Albia started at the 20 and moved to the 42 on a 10-yard pass to Wilson and a 12-yard completion to Hermsen. But Chance was intercepted with 3:49 left and Davis County started at the 25.
Dekraai was sacked for a six-yard loss and, facing a fourth and 14 at the 31, Trevor Slayton got the ball on a fake punt and sprinted 31 yards for the score. The PAT failed and Davis County led 20-7 with 2:25 left.
The rest of regulation time was owned by Albia. The Blue Demons started at their own 37 and drove to the goal in 11 plays with Wilson catching a pass for 10 and then giving up a 40-yard catch on a holding call, Stewart catching a 24-yard pass and Hermsen catching a pass for nine and running for 17 to the Davis County eight. On third and goal Chance went back to Hermsen for an eight-yard score with 11:14 left in the game.
Wilson’s kick was good and the score was 20-14. Davis County punted to Albia’s 32, then Nathaniel Wynn crushed a 64-yard punt to the Davis County goal line that officials ruled had gone into the endzone. Everyone at Ironman Field disagreed.
The Mustangs punted back with 5:18 left and Albia moved to the Davis County 17 behind a scramble of 12 yards by Chance, passes of 18 and six to Crall and Stewart but turned the ball back with 2:41 left.
The Mustangs needed a first down and on second and 10 at the 17, Dekraai was sacked by Hermsen for a loss of 10 and they went into punt formation. But special team play rose up. Blake Stewart blocked the punt and Flattery picked it up and ran it to the two with 2:08 left. Jer McAninch plowed in for the score to tie the score at 20-20, but Wilson’s kick was tipped and fell short of the goal posts.
Davis County had a big return to the 45 with 1:51 left, but their drive fizzled and they punted and the game went into what would become three overtimes.
Albia had an average game rushing with 89 yards, led by Dawson Hermsen’s 42 yards and seven carries and Chance with 11 carries for 30 and a score. McAninch had five carries for seven yards and a touchdown.
But Albia’s passing was outstanding again, with Chance shattering his own single game passing record with 21 completions in 40 attempts, 218 yards and two touchdowns. Chance hit six receivers with Crall hauling in seven, Hermsen and Stewart four each and Leshen and Wilson three each.
Luke Bossard had a sensational game on defense, coming up with 18 tackles. Leshen had 11, Flattery nine and Stewart and Hermsen eight each. Crall had two picks and Wynn one.
“This is one of the greatest games I’ve ever coached or played in,” said Coach Huber. “The win for us was huge. It’s the first time we’ve been above .500 in three years and we proved to ourselves that we can overcome adversity. Our guys are believing that we not only can finish with a winning record, but that we can earn a playoff spot.”