WAVERLY - First they lost their offensive heartbeat, and then they lost the game.
And now the question lingers: Where do the Webster City Lynx go from here?
It's getting awfully close - if it's not already there - to do or die time for Webster City following Friday's somewhat surprising 24-8 loss to Waverly-Shell Rock, its second straight setback in Class 3A District 3 play. Riding a wave of momentum at the top of the district and thought to be a lock for the playoffs just two weeks ago, the Lynx now find themselves stuck in fourth place with an outside possibility they could miss the postseason altogether.
DFJ photo by Troy Banning
Webster City wingback Trey Tesdahl (10) has the ball pop out of his hands after taking a hit from Waverly-Shell Rock’s Eric Willis during the second half on Friday in Waverly. Tesdahl threw the Lynx only touchdown of the game in a 24-8 Class 3A District 3 loss to the Go-Hawks.
To make matters worse, junior spinback Alex Oswald writhed on the turf near midfield with 7:23 remaining in the third quarter on Friday and had to be carried off the field. A left ankle injury forced him to leave the stadium on a golf cart and he was taken to a local hospital for X-rays.
Initial reports are that Oswald may have suffered ligament damage, but conclusive results won't be known until he undergoes an MRI today.
Oswald's injury was just one reason why Lynx head coach Bob Howard was riled up following the contest.
Waverly-Shell Rock 3 7 0 14-24
Webster City 0 0 8 0-8
W-SR - FG JD Conklin 31, 2:12.
W-SR - Eric Willis 69 run (Conklin kick), 8:02.
WCHS - Ben Mossman 20 pass from Trey Tesdahl (Connor Larson run), 6:28.
W-SR - Willis 21 run (Conklin kick), 9:36.
W-SR - Brett McCalla 32 pass from Jake Velky (Conklin kick), 2:41.
Rushing - WCHS: Connor Larson 12-66, Trey Tesdahl 10-33, Alex Oswald 9-36, Cal Zahn 2-5, Austin Myers 3-1. W-SR: Eric Willis 26-193, Jake Velky 9-13, Tyler Hemer 4-12, Nathan Steggall 2-11, Thomas Foy 1-3.
Passing - WCHS: Oswald 2-13-0 20, Tesdahl 1-1-0 20, A. Myers 0-2-1 0. W-SR: Velky 5-17-0 85.
Receiving - WCHS: Ben Mossman 3-40. W-SR: Tommy Bates 2-30, Brett McCalla 1-32, Foy 1-16, Steggall 1-7.
Tackles - WCHS: Nelson Ball 7, Larson 5, Boone Myers 4.5, Tesdahl 4.5, Gus Gasca 4, A. Myers 4, Zahn 3, Dylan Fielder 3, Chris Goodrich 3, Tyler Lockwood 2, Oswald 1.
"We played with absolutely no emotion in the first half. None whatsoever," Howard said of the 24-minute stretch that saw the Go-Hawks storm out to a 10-0 lead. "We've got a lot of really nice kids, and they're nice kids (on the field) too.
"We've had some success and now everybody thinks we're great. The kids have kind of bought into it a little bit of how good we are. Well, we can be pretty good if we play with intensity, but we aren't good enough to play flat and that's how we played in the first half."
Waverly-Shell Rock (3-4, 1-3) - winless in the district prior to Friday - received 193 yards rushing and two touchdowns from junior tailback Eric Willis, including 121 in the opening half. He entered the game with 125 total yards on the season.
Willis got the nod in place of injured fullback and the Go-Hawks' leading rusher Bryce Miller, who watched from the sideline because of a concussion. But it took Willis only 16 minutes to make his presence known, as he broke free on a trap up the middle, cut to the outside and outran the entire Lynx defense to the end zone for a 69-yard touchdown scamper that put W-SR in charge 10-0 with 8:02 left in the first half.
The Go-Hawks chugged out 237 yards rushing against a Lynx defense that allowed just 107 on average through six games. Willis' total was 41 yards more than WCHS had surrendered to any team leading up to Friday.
"A lot of their linemen had been out and they got them back this week," Howard said of the Go-Hawks' front five that helped produce 322 yards of total offense. "Physically we don't match up with that team at all."
W-SR sophomore quarterback Jake Velky completed 5 of 17 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. But more importantly, the Go-Hawks didn't turn the ball over - something they'd done a whopping 23 times in their first six games.
Whatever Howard said to his players during the 20-minute halftime seemed to work, at least throughout the third quarter. WCHS (4-3, 3-2) forced a pair of three-and-out series and cut into the lead just a few plays after Oswald exited on a 20-yard touchdown pass from wingback Trey Tesdahl to wide receiver Ben Mossman. Tesdahl took the hand-off from back-up spinback Austin Myers, raced around the right end and then lofted a pass to a wide open Mossman, who caught the ball at the 5-yard line and lowered his shoulder to cover the remaining distance.
Connor Larson took in the 2-point conversion run to trim the Go-Hawks' lead to 10-8 with 6:28 left in the period.
"At the start of the second half we played football, and that was the difference," Howard said.
W-SR made it a two-possession game again early in the fourth on a 21-yard sprint to the end zone by Willis on a sweep around the right end. A few plays earlier he took the same route for 36 yards on third-and-4 to put his team in Lynx territory.
An interception on the Lynx next possession set the stage for the Go-Hawks' knockout blow - a 32-yard scoring toss across the middle from Velky to Brett McCalla. Velky also converted two fourth-and-1 situations earlier in the drive, the second by way of three missed tackles on the outside.
WCHS finished with only 181 yards of total offense - 141 rushing and 40 passing. Larson lumbered for 66 yards on 12 carries, Tesdahl picked up 33 yards on 10 totes and Oswald churned out 36 yards on nine attempts.
It marked the second straight week, and third time this season, in which the Lynx failed to record a rushing touchdown.
Oswald completed just 2 of 13 passes for 20 yards in 2 quarters. He was 1 of 11 in the first half, oftentimes throwing off his back foot while waiting to absorb a hit from an oncoming defender. The toughest incompletion to stomach occurred midway through the second quarter when Oswald rifled a pass over the head of a wide open Cal Zahn in the middle of the field. Zahn had no defenders in sight and a clear path to the end zone.
And now the Lynx must decide what direction they'll go in lieu of Oswald's likely absence.
"I'm sure he's probably done," Howard said. "So that's another one of those things where you've got to suck it up a little bit as a team and adjust to that.
"Now we're taking away the guy that's done all the passing, so that's going to be a challenge. We'll have to adjust the offense a little bit and see what we can do."
WCHS faces yet another difficult task this week in its final district contest - a road test at red hot Humboldt (4-3, 3-1). The Wildcats have won four straight games, including over the last two teams to beat the Lynx - Clear Lake and W-SR. They beat previously once-beaten LeMars, 21-12, on Friday.