Trojans trounce Eagles to get back on track

South Tama quarterback Gavin Bridgewater, center, cuts between two Saydel defenders during last Friday’s 53-0 victory over the Eagles. He finished with four total touchdowns, three passing and one rushing. PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY
South Tama’s Ethan Cruikshank, who finished with two rushing touchdowns, cuts upfield during Friday night’s victory over Saydel. PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY
South Tama running back Rudy Papakee prepares for contact with Saydel’s Isaac McClure during Friday night’s non-district game in Tama. The Trojans won 53-0. PHOTO BY ROBERT MAHARRY

What a difference a week makes.

After suffering a tough 42-6 loss to West Marshall at State Center in week one, the South Tama football team bounced back in a big way and throttled Saydel 53-0 at home Friday night on the strength of a four-touchdown performance from junior quarterback Gavin Bridgewater and a stout defensive effort against the winless Eagles (0-2).

The Trojans (1-1) set themselves up for success almost immediately when Bridgewater took the opening kick back to the Saydel 40-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage, he found a streaking Rudy Papakee on the left side of the field for a 39-yard gain that put STC just a yard away from the end zone. On the next snap, Bridgewater took it in himself to make the score 7-0.

After forcing a three and out, the Trojans regained possession and showcased the running game on a clock-consuming 61-yard drive that culminated with a two-yard Papakee touchdown run.

The STC defense held strong on a fourth and short when they stuffed Saydel quarterback AJ Ollin and took the ball at the Eagles’ 36. The Trojans once again leaned on the run, and although a Bridgewater dive for the left pilon came up just short, Ethan Cruikshank punched it in on the ensuing play to make the score 21-0 in favor of the home team.

A Tyrus Clegg interception on the opening play of the next drive set the Trojans up for yet another score — this time a 16-yard Bridgewater run — and after a missed extra point, STC led 27-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Bridgewater’s hot streak continued in the second quarter when he connected with senior wide receiver Nolan Upah on a bomb that resulted in a 60-yard touchdown after Upah was able to break away from the defender who attempted to guard him. Another missed PAT made it 33-0, and Cruikshank added his second rushing score of the night to make it 40-0 and trigger the continuous clock relatively early in the second quarter.

From there, the Trojans were on cruise control the rest of the way. Bridgewater ran in from eight yards out to make it 47-0 with just under two minutes to go, and the Eagles came up just short of scoring their only points of the night when wideout Kolton Keller caught a long pass from Ollin on the last play of the half with his knee already down inside the five-yard line.

Papakee tacked on a 16-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to push the advantage to 53-0, and the reserves finished out the game for the Trojans as they celebrated their first victory of the season.

After finishing their season opener with just 166 yards of total offense, the Trojans exploded for 331 yards on the ground and another 133 through the air on Friday night. Bridgewater led the way with 96 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries, and Cruikshank (89 yards, two TDs) and Papakee (77 yards, two TDs) were the other leaders for South Tama. Upah was the top receiver with 60 yards and a touchdown on a single catch.

Defensively, the Trojans held the Eagles to just 157 yards of total offense, and junior Kyan McBride led the way with seven total tackles. Both Upah and Clegg grabbed an interception apiece.

STC is back on its home field against Grinnell-Newburg next Friday with a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.