IOWA FALLS - Connor Larson admitted the halftime pep talk he received from his coaches, and the one he gave himself, weren't exactly G-rated Friday night.
The Webster City junior tailback was fine with that. Sometimes a little - or in this case, a big - kick in the pants is just what he needs.
"I wasn't running my best and I needed to get yelled at like that," Larson said about the first half in which he generated zero yards on four carries that led to the behind chewing. "I needed to come out stronger and run harder because I was angry."
Larson ignited a big offensive second half with a 70-yard sprint down the sideline to the end zone - he shucked three would-be tacklers within yards of the line of scrimmage before he outran everybody else - early in the third quarter, and he chewed up 134 yards of real estate over the final 24 minutes to propel WCHS to a 27-7 victory over Class 3A District 3 rival Iowa Falls-Alden.
Larson scored all three of the Lynx second-half touchdowns after they led 6-0 at the intermission.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Surrounded by defenders, Webster City spinback Alex Oswald (3) drags the pile towards the goal line during the second half at Cadet Field in Iowa Falls on Friday. Oswald accounted for 279 yards of total offense in the Lynx 27-7 district victory over Iowa Falls-Alden.
"(Larson) didn't finish off any runs in the first half, but he ran much harder in the second half," WCHS head coach Bob Howard said after his club won its third straight game to move to 3-1 overall, and the Lynx are the lone team in the district at 2-0.
The long run - it put WCHS ahead 12-0 with 3:42 left in the third period - would've actually been enough to fend off the Cadets (2-2, 1-1). The Lynx defense was more than up to the challenge all night, limiting Iowa Falls-Alden to just 112 yards rushing on 35 carries - an average of 3.2 yards per tote - and 230 of total offense.
The Cadets entered the contest averaging 31.3 points per game.
WCHS - Alex Oswald 9 run (kick failed), 5:02.
WCHS - Connor Larson 70 run (pass failed), 3:42.
IF-A - Nicholas Jensen 25 pass from Brandon Norman (Koddy Hildreth kick), 11:01.
WCHS - Larson 10 run (Austin Myers run), 5:27.
WCHS - Larson 2 run (Kirk Greenley kick), 4:39.
Senior defensive tackle Boone Myers was the main agitator, constantly plowing through the Cadet offensive line and creating headaches for elusive quarterback Brandon Norman. Myers sacked Norman twice in the first half and finished with eight solo tackles.
The pressure Myers, nose guard Dylan Fielder and defensive end Gus Gasca brought allowed middle linebackers Nelson Ball and Rylee Lawson to flow to the ball with very little resistance. Ball notched 11 solo stops, Lawson had 10, and they shared one of the four sacks on Norman.
"That's pretty close to the best we've played on defense," Ball, a junior, said. "Rylee is really good and he just loves the game, and everyone just loves to play defense. We're ecstatic right now."
Howard was pleased too, especially considering the unit carried the offense in the first half. The Lynx drove into the red zone on three occasions in the first two quarters, but only came away with a 9-yard touchdown run by spinback Alex Oswald midway through the second. They fumbled the ball away at the 3 and also turned it over on downs at the 10.
"We were playing like a junior high team on offense in the first half and we can't have that," Howard said. "But the defense played real well. Nelson and Rylee both had very big games and we did a real good job of containing Norman.
"(Ball and Lawson) aren't huge, but they're both heady and tougher than crap."
Oswald was a one-man offensive show early on. The junior picked up 93 of his 98 yards rushing in the first half - a stretch in which he also completed 4 of 7 passes for 114 yards. He made good on 9 of 13 passes overall for 181 yards and accounted for 279 of the Lynx 422 yards of total offense.
"Ozzie had a big ballgame," Howard said. "He threw the ball real well and we needed that because that's what they were giving us, and he also ran the trap real well in the first half."
IF-A sliced into the Lynx lead early in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Norman to Nicholas Jensen.
WCHS compounded its problems on the second play of its ensuing possession with a second lost fumble at its own 21-yard line. But the Cadets matched the bungled play by coughing it up on their first play and Myers jumped on top to give the ball back to the Lynx.
Eight plays and 67 yards later Larson took a direct snap and bounced to the outside for a 10-yard touchdown that upped the WCHS lead to 20-7 with 5:27 to go. Early in the drive the Lynx converted on third-and-11 at their own 22-yard line when Trey Tesdahl made a leaping 17-yard catch and came down with one foot in bounds near the sideline, and they also moved the chains on a fourth-and-9 at the IF-A 26 on a 16-yard completion from Oswald to Ben Mossman on a jump pass - the same play they used to pick up a pair of crucial fourth downs in a come-from-behind 28-21 win over Charles City in Week 3.
Mossman was Oswald's favorite target all night, reeling in five passes for 109 yards. Tesdahl made three grabs that covered 63 yards; he also lumbered for 16 on the ground and even completed a 9-yard toss to Mossman on a wingback pass.
IF-A sealed its own fate moments later when Norman was picked off by Tesdahl deep in Cadet territory, and Larson finished off the 15-point spurt with a 2-yard plunge across the goal line.
Nate Bahr gained 49 yards on 19 carries to lead the Cadets. Norman - who entered the game completing better than 70 percent of his passes without an interception - hooked up with receivers on 10 of 19 throws for 118 yards.
WCHS will return home for the first time since Week 2 on Friday to host Algona on homecoming. The Bulldogs (2-2, 1-1) were handed a 35-6 loss by previously winless Humboldt on Friday, but Howard says there isn't a district team that the Lynx can afford to take for granted.
"It's a big deal to be 2-0 in the district with the big games coming up," he said. "In this district they're all big games."