CLOSE CALL: No. 7 Lynx ride fast start to narrow win over Humboldt
WCHS O-line opens lanes for Mathis, who rushes for 207 yards in rivalry victory
HUMBOLDT — Long faces and eyes directed at the ground are what awaited Bob Howard as he approached his team’s postgame circle near midfield at Mason Maach Field Friday night.
And the veteran Webster City head coach was having none of it.
“The positive is we’re 4-0. We won,” Howard said following the seventh-ranked Lynx 21-14 victory over North Central Conference and Class 3A District 2 rival Humboldt. “We were acting like we got beat. We didn’t get beat. We’re 4-0.”
Was it Webster City’s best performance of the season? Nope, it wasn’t. But it was a fourth consecutive win over an opponent that stepped onto the turf without a blemish on its record.
WCHS (4-0) blazed out to a 14-0 lead less than nine minutes into the contest and rode that dominant first quarter to its third consecutive win over Humboldt (3-1) and ninth in the last 11 meetings.
Trey Mathis, a senior tailback, gashed the Wildcats for 207 yards rushing on 26 attempts, sophomore wingback CJ Hisler scored a pair of touchdowns — one on the ground and one through the air — and senior spinback Chase Rattenborg also hit paydirt to help WCHS narrowly escape for a second straight week.
Mathis has rushed for 513 yards and averaged 9.7 yards per carry in two career starts against Humboldt. But all he was thinking about following his best performance of the season were the two fumbles he coughed up, the first inside the Wildcat 40 midway through the third quarter and the second at the Humboldt 6 as WCHS was trying to put the game on ice with under two minutes remaining.
“I felt like I ran the ball well, but I had the two fumbles and I shouldn’t do that,” he said. “I hold myself to a higher standard than that. I don’t like letting down my teammates and all the hard work they put in.”
Howard was quick to stick up for his tailback though.
“I’m sure not going to (complain) about the fumbling because he ran the ball hard,” Howard said. “It was a technique thing. He was punishing people and he was leading with the arm the ball was in. He knocked the ball out by himself.”
WCHS finished with 372 yards of offense, 310 of them on the ground. Rattenborg accrued 54 yards on 12 totes and Hisler racked up 33 yards, 25 of them coming on a touchdown run on the opening possession of the game. He also was on the receiving end of both of Rattenborg’s completions that netted 62 yards and a score.
Leading 7-0, Rattenborg rolled to his right on third-and-long and threw into triple coverage near the goal line. Hisler went up and pulled it in for the 28-yard touchdown to give WCHS the early two-touchdown lead.
“When it’s coming in the air I’m trying to sit on it as long as possible and then jump at the right moment,” Hisler, who also won a jump ball on a 34-yard completion in the second half, said.
A Connor Hanson interception put WCHS in position to increase its lead further, but on fourth-and-6 from the Humboldt 28, Wildcats’ safety Caden Matson knocked the ball out of Tyler Olson’s hands on what looked to be a completion for a first down inside the 10.
And just like that, Humboldt seized the momentum.
Matson, the Wildcats’ do-everything quarterback, pulled his team to within seven on a 31-yard scramble to the house midway through the second quarter. He orchestrated another drive deep into Lynx territory later in the period, but was picked off by Ty McKinney with three seconds remaining in the half.
Matson gave WCHS fits all night. He rushed for 136 yards — the first time an individual or team has cracked the century mark against the Lynx this season — and threw for 137 more. His elusiveness, coupled with a poor night tackling, left the Lynx frustrated.
“Their quarterback is a very good athlete and a playmaker, but we didn’t tackle him,” Howard said. “Some of that credit goes to him because he’s hard to tackle, but we didn’t wrap up very well.”
Lynx defensive end Jamin Stuhr, who had 61⁄2 tackles in the contest, said things will be corrected in practice.
“Everybody, definitely myself included, need to go harder in tackling drills,” he said. “We can all improve. I can count three or four tackles that I missed.”
A 13-play drive that was capped by Rattenborg’s 6-yard touchdown on a trap up the gut gave WCHS some breathing room early in the fourth quarter, but Humboldt answered with a seven-minute drive that Matson finished with his own 6-yard score on fourth-and-1 to pull the Wildcats within 21-14.
But rather than attempt an onside kick with 4:37 remaining, Humboldt oped to put its fate in the hands of its defense.
That was a mistake.
Mathis ran the ball four times for 51 yards as WCHS journeyed into the red zone and forced Humboldt to use all of its timeouts. Mathis’s fumble at the 6 momentarily gave Humboldt life, but 94 yards away from the end zone with under two minutes remaining was too big of an obstacle. A fourth down pass from Matson tumbled to the turf with 43 seconds to go.
“We came out with a win and that’s all we can ask for,” Stuhr said. “We’re amped up about being 4-0.”
Howard said his offensive line — Beau Klaver, Truman Klein, Trey Shannon, Neven Dorothy and Ben Auderer — deserves plenty of the credit for the Lynx ground dominance.
“I thought the offensive line played fantastic,” he said. “They were playing a defense designed to stop what we were running and we still ran it.”
Mathis wore two capes, as he also led the defense with eight solo tackles. McKinney, Jack Van Diest and Devon Stoakes all finished with seven.
WCHS will get the chance to beat a fifth straight unbeaten foe on Friday when it hosts Mason City (2-0). The Mohawks beat Boone on Friday, 26-12.
Webster City 14 0 0 7 — 21
Humboldt 0 7 0 7 — 14
WC — CJ Hisler 25 run (Ty McKinney kick), 9:12.
WC — Hisler 28 pass from Chase Rattenborg (McKinney kick), 3:05.
HUM — Caden Matson 31 run (Max Mason kick), 6:31.
WC — Rattenborg 6 run (McKinney kick), 10:52.
HUM — Matson 6 run (Mason kick), 4:37.
First downs 17 13
Rushing 16 6
Passing 1 5
Penalty 0 2
Rushes-yards 48-310 29-159
Passing yards 62 137
Comp-Att-INT 2-4-0 14-23-2
Return yards 76 32
Sacked-yards lost 0-0 0-0
Punts-Ave 1-42 3-37
Fumbles-lost 3-2 1-0
Penalties-yards 6-50 9-71
Time of Possession 22:58 25:02
Webster City Lynx
Player Att Yds TD
Trey Mathis 26 207 0
Chase Rattenborg 12 54 1
CJ Hisler 7 33 1
Connor Hanson 3 16 0
Player Com Att Yds TD
C. Rattenborg 2 4 62 1
Player Rec Yds TD
CJ Hisler 2 62 1
Player So Ast Tot
Trey Mathis 8 0 8
Jack Van Diest 6 2 7
Ty McKinney 6 7 7
Devon Stoakes 6 2 7
Jamin Stuhr 5 3 61⁄2
Connor Hanson 4 2 5
CJ Hisler 3 2 4
Skyler Scott 2 1 21⁄2
Tyler Olson 2 1 21⁄2
Trey Lyons 1 1 11⁄2
Tyler Moothart 1 0 1
Jaxon Cherry 1 0 1
Kyzer Stanley 0 2 1
Gage Rossing 0 1 1⁄2
Player Att Yds TD
Caden Matson 22 136 2
Jordan Jensen 7 23 0
Player Com Att Yds TD
Caden Matson 14 23 137 0
Player Rec Yds TD
Gabe Gidel 4 56 0
Nyzier Evans 5 48 0
Jacob Heier 2 19 0
Jordan Jensen 1 7 0
Colby Lane 1 7 0