HUXLEY – Too much Eli Dunne doomed the Ballard football team in a 49-21 home loss to Grinnell Friday at Rich Strouse Field.
Dunne completed 20 of 27 passes for 221 yards and three touchdowns and he ran for 98 yards and two scores to lift Grinnell to the Class 3A District 4 victory over the Bombers.
Ballard (4-3, 3-2) actually hung tough in the early going. The Bombers led 14-7 early in the second quarter.
But Grinnell (5-2, 3-1) took charge with three touchdowns in the final 10 minutes of the second quarter. The Tigers then blew the game open with three more unanswered scores in the third period.
“We got beat by a very good football team,” Ballard head coach Al Christian said. “We played well early, but had too many three-and-outs on offense and the defense was never able to get a big play to slow them down.”
Dunne hit Luke Honold for a 13-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, but Ballard tied the game on the first play of the second period when Jacob Nethers broke free on a 19-yard touchdown run. The Bombers immediately got the ball back and capitalized with a 24-yard touchdown pass from Coy Baker to Mason Edwards.
That gave Ballard a 14-7 lead with 10:45 to go in the second quarter.
It was all Grinnell after that.
A 1-yard Bryce Lidtka touchdown run tied the game with 9:39 left in the second quarter. Dunne then fired touchdown passes to Honold and Lidtka in the final 3:39 of the quarter to give Grinnell a 28-14 lead at the half.
In the third quarter Dunne used his legs to help Grinnell break the game open. He had 5 and 15-yard touchdown scampers in the period and Ethan Cline dealt the finishing blow for the Tigers with a 35-yard run to pay dirt at the 1:09 mark of the third.
Isaiah Johnson produced a 4-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter for Ballard’s final touchdown.
Behind Dunne’s play Grinnell put up 446 total yards. The Tigers had great balance, with 225 rushing and 221 passing.
Ballard finished with 292 yards. The Bombers did most of their damage on the ground, picking up 221 rushing yards on 41 carries.
Johnson topped the 100-yard mark for the Bombers as he ran for 106 on 13 carries. Nethers came up a little short of the mark, compiling 95 yards on 24 attempts.
Baker completed 4 of 12 passes for 71 yards and a touchdown, but he had two interceptions. Edwards caught two passes for 32 yards, Tanner Petersen made a 34-yard grab and Cole Wilson added one 5-yard reception for Ballard.
On defense, linebacker Marcus Johnson had a busy night for Ballard, racking up 22 tackles, including 11 solo stops. Ben Claussen made 13 tackles, Tyler Kyhl and Mitchell Broer tallied 10 apiece, Quinton Erickson totaled eight and Brandon Brown had a tackle for loss for the Bombers.
Lidtka had 61 yards receiving and 44 rushing, Honold made four grabs for 71 yards, Christian Mertens had five catches for 52 and Cline ran for 68 yards on six carries for Grinnell.
Up next for Ballard is its final home game. The Bombers will go up against a Dallas Center-Grimes team that is 6-1 overall, tied for first in 3A District 4 with a 4-0 district mark.
“We need to refocus and get ready for a good DCG team,” Christian said.
The Bomber-Mustang game is set to start at 7:30 p.m.
Grinnell 49, Ballard 21
G 7 21 21 0 – 49
B 0 14 0 7 – 21
G – Luke Honold 13 pass from Eli Dunne (Christian Mertens kick), 6:14
B – Jacob Nethers 19 run (Andrew Rasmussen kick), 11:53
B – Mason Edwards 24 pass from Coy Baker (Rasmussen kick), 10:45
G – Bryce Lidtka 1 run (Mertens kick), 9:39
G – Honold 18 pass from Dunne (Mertens kick), 3:39
G – Lidtka 24 pass from Dunne (Mertens kick), 0:16
G – Dunne 5 run (Mertens kick), 6:02
G – Dunne 15 run (Mertens kick), 4:38
G – Ethan Cline 35 run (Mertens kick), 1:09
B – Johnson 4 run (Rasmussen kick), 6:18
Team statistics G B
Rushes-yards 34-225 41-221
Passing 20-27-0 4-12-2
Passing yards 221 71
Total yards 446 292
Fumbles lost 0 0
Punts-average 2-31.5 3-28.0
Rushing: G – Eli Dunne 13-98, Ethan Cline 6-68, Bryce Lidtka 11-44, Kenny Clark 3-9, Christian Mertens 1-6. B – Isaiah Johnson 13-106, Jacob Nethers 24-95, Zach Thompson 3-17, Coy Baker 1-3.
Passing: G – Dunne 20-27-0-221. B – Baker 4-12-2-71.
Receiving: G – Luke Honold 4-71, Lidtka 7-61, Mertens 5-52, Griffin Reding 2-19, Christian Graham 1-15, Julio Sanchez 1-3. B – Tanner Petersen 1-34, Mason Edwards 2-32, Cole Wilson 1-5.
Tackles: B – Marcus Johnson 22, Ben Claussen 13, Mitchell Broer, 10, Tyler Kyhl 10, Quinton Erickson 8.