Burlington High School boasted a pair of speedy running backs, but the Fort Madison High School's defense contained them throughout the varsity football game Friday, and the Bloodhounds prevailed over the Grayhounds 28-6 Friday at Richmond Stadium, Jim Youel Field.
Fort Madison is 3-1 and faces what is likely their toughest opponent of the season when it travels to No. 3 Solon Friday for a 7:30 p.m. start (the remaining games of the season will start then). This is the start of five district games.
Burlington drops to 1-3.
Fort Madison used Diego Lozano only on defense, relying mostly on the passing game and quarterback Will Larson.
Larson threw two TD passes to Quentin Schneider and two to Parker Denning, whose second TD involved him making a horizontal leap near the goal line to break the plane.
Larson went 19-for-28 for 244 yards.
Landes Williams kicked a 25-yard field goal, which made it 10-0 with four minutes left in the first quarter. He missed a later field goal attempt.
The defense set the tone early when sophomore Tate Johnson intercepted a pass on the second play of the game and took it to the Grayhounds' 15. After a short one-yard pass, Larson threw a strike to Quentin Schneider for a 14-yard score.
The defense also denied much on the ground from Burlington running backs Trey King Jr. and Bryant Williams.
King finished with 110 yards on 16 carries, but didn't break open a big run. Williams had nine carries for 41 yards.
Linebacker Levi Lowney said the key was, "We were filling open holes real well," and yet the Bloodhounds also opened other holes "for our 'backers to come in."
FMHS coach Derek Doherty said, "We did a good job of bottling them up."
The most impressive touchdown of the night was one of two that didn't count.
Burlington was on the FMHS 9-yard-line but facing 4th-and-goal.
Burlington quarterback Brock Dengler dropped back and looked for a receiver.
On the defensive end, Lowney was looking at the quarterback. "I read the quarterback's eyes," Lowney said. "I saw the hitch, and I jumped it," he said of the pass toward the end zone.
Lowney headed for the left sideline and raced downfield for about a 95-yard run.
"Someone made a big block at the 40-yard line," Lowney said of a teammate, but someone also made a block in the back at about the 50.
Doherty later said he just wanted to get an explanation from the ref, but going out onto the field is a no-no, and the ensuing flag sent FMHS all the way back to their own 28.
After a nine-yard run by Calem MacLearn, Larson hit Schneider with a 10-yard pass to the right sideline, and Schneider — a quartermiler in track — raced down the sideline for a 63-yard scoring drive.
Williams' extra point made it 28-0 with 2:02 left in the third quarter.
"I'm really proud of my kids for fighting through the adversity" of the penalty he drew.
MacLearn had a 22-yard touchdown run called back near the end of the game because of a holding penalty. But he said he had good blocking by the line, including an initial opening by Ethan Deacon, a block midway to the score by Lowney and a final block by Denning.
Burlington finally scored a three-yard run by D.J. Pugh. The extra point attempt failed.
"We're getting better and better at this RPO (run/pass option)," said Doherty of the team's offense. "Will's doing a great job making reads."
Of exceptional note was a running play Larson made. He looked as if he was going to be sacked, but then he appeared out of the swarm of defenders, only to get caught again. But he managed to get out of that pile and break free for a 15-yard run.
When Larson came off for change of possession, Doherty got in his face…for a compliment.
"I vividly remember what I told him, that's what separates him, his toughness," Doherty said.
On the down side, senior Kali Maestro suffered a knee injury and had to be taken out for the rest of the game. Maestro had a sack in the game.
Schneider finished with seven catches for 136 yards, Michael Mosena six for 48, Denning five for 47 and MacLearn one for 13.
Larson rushed for 75 yards on seven carries. MacLearn had 62 yards on nine carries. Lozano had just three rushes for 12 yards, and Kali Maestro had three rushes before suffering his injury.
Romeo Maestro led the Bloodhounds with seven solos and eight assists, Larson made five solos, seven assists, Lozano had 11 assists to go with a solo tackle, Johnson had four and three, Jayden Fedler two and four with a sack, Schneider one and six and Bryce Brittton one and eight.
Larson added an interception.