South Tama needed only a handful of plays to build a quick lead that turned into a homecoming rout of the struggling Saydel Eagles.
The Trojans ran six offensive plays en route to building a 21-0 advantage just more than four minutes into Friday night's game. They continued crushing Saydel (0-6) and won 68-0. STC improved to 4-1 with the victory.
"It's always fun going out and playing someone less talented," STC senior Erik Lux said. "It was nice, too, that it was homecoming."
South Tama senior Erik Lux runs over a Saydel defensive player as the opposing player attempts to tackle Lux during the first half Friday night. Lux scored one touchdown and sacked the Eagles’ quarterback for a safety during the Trojans’ 68-0 Homecoming victory.
South Tama's defense led the way Friday as it forced five Saydel fumbles and recovered all five of them. Three of the fumble recoveries came during the opening minutes of the contest.
The Eagles took the opening kickoff at their own 20 yard line. After two plays where they gained zero yards, quarterback Jake Sherman was sacked by STC senior Garrett Hoskey, who forced the fumble with the hit. Sophomore Ian Slagle recovered the ball for STC. Senior Sam Kuhter ran five yards on the ensuing play for a touchdown, giving STC a quick 7-0 lead.
Following the kickoff, the Eagles put the ball on the ground again. Running back B.J. Freeman fumbled and STC senior Trevor Rohach recovered the ball. South Tama scored another touchdown when Kuhter found Lux for a 10-yard touchdown pass, which capped off a five-play, 37-yard drive.
"Our defense has played great all year," Kuhter said. "It's great when they can get turnovers and give us a short field. Then we can score, give the other team the ball and our defense will get the ball back for us."
South Tama's defense did exactly that. Saydel's first down play was an option run that STC senior Jose Fonseca broke up. He deflected the ball, scooped it up and ran 12 yards into the end zone, giving STC a 21-0 lead just 4:09 into the contest.
"He put the ball out and when he did that, I stuck my hand out, because I knew he was going to pitch it," Fonseca said. "Then it just bounced right to me with the perfect bounce."
The Trojans continued crushing Saydel during the first half. They held Saydel to three-and-outs on its next three possessions. The Trojans' fourth touchdown came on a one-yard run from Kuhter. Four minutes later, senior running back Kyle Stephenson made his first big impact with a five-yard scoring run. Stephenson added another score later in the half, following a 27-yard run down to the Saydel 1 yard line.
"I kind of know what it's like to be Kyle and make people miss," Kuhter said of a 29-yard run he broke to set up an STC touchdown. "It's pretty cool, but it's tiring running around like that."
Already leading 42-0, South Tama continued scoring by taking advantage of more Saydel turnovers. Hoskey recovered an Eagles' fumble on their 21 yard line. STC scored again on the Eagles' next possession. Lux sacked their quarterback for a 12-yard loss in the end zone for a safety.
"We just wanted to come out and hit hard tonight," Lux said. "We also had to keep our responsibilities. That's what got us the win."
Senior Kaleb Davenport ran the kickoff back 48 yards to Saydel's 17 yard line. The Trojans added three more points when Fonseca booted a 28-yard field goal. Saydel's last turnover came on its next drive. Junior Dalton Vest ripped the ball out of Freeman's hands and recovered the ball deep in Saydel territory. Senior Daryl Bidwell scored the Trojans' final touchdown of the half with a three-yard run, just three plays later. STC led 54-0 at the break.
"There was some big hitting that caused those," STC coach Jay Hoskey said of the Saydel fumbles. "We're working on being more of an aggressive defense, because we hadn't been that type of team. I didn't think we were last week, so that was one big point of emphasis this week."
The entire second half featured a running clock, so neither team had more than three possessions. South Tama scored its next touchdown after its longest drive of the game. STC drove 60 yards in eight plays. Kuhter, who overthrew a wide-open Fonseca earlier in the drive, found the Trojans' tight end in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.
Junior Dalton Doyle threw a touchdown to junior Tyler Martens for the Trojans' final score. The 15-yard play came in the waning minutes of the contest and put STC up 68-0.
"It was a fun game all around," Kuhter said. "I guess you could say, we kind of got to do the things we wanted to do. We made some plays and it was a fun game all around."
Kuhter and his teammates were happy to erase their only loss of the season, which came at Newton the previous week. They were excited to move on from the loss quickly Friday night.
"After that one-point loss and blocked extra point last week, this was a great win," Fonseca said. "It's a great feeling to get the victory."
The Trojans' coach was proud of his team for taking care of business Friday.
"We got a lot better since last week and we took it out on a team that probably isn't as good," Hoskey said. "We played everybody tonight and a lot of guys played quite a bit. Our kids played aggressive. We didn't know how close this game was going to be. We thought we could beat them pretty good, but you have to get up and play every game. The kids had fun tonight and we did a lot of things. We threw the ball and ran the ball and that was a goal I had coming into this game. We got a lot of points before we ran very many offensive plays."
South Tama will travel to Huxley to play Ballard (2-3) this week. Ballard is coming off two losses after beating Saydel 54-0 three weeks ago.
"We know we have to come to work this week and practice hard," Kuhter said. "We need to be focused, because next week's game is a really big one."