JEFFERSON – It wasn’t pretty, but North Polk got the job done against Greene County in the opening round of Class 2A football playoff competition Oct. 30 in Jefferson.
The Comets relied on strong defense and a big play by special teams to just edge out the Rams by a 20-19 score.
“Our guys played hard,” North Polk head coach Evan Groepper said. “We didn’t play our cleanest game of the season, but we battled through some adversity and showed some mental toughness.”
A big challenge both teams had to overcome was their familiarity with each other. It was their fourth meeting in two years, and with both teams knowing what the other was going to do, it made it difficult for either squad to sustain much momentum on offense.
North Polk trailed 19-14 going into the fourth quarter.
The Comets jumped out to a 14-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter, but two late Greene County scores cut the advantage to a single point by halftime. J.C. Weitl went on a 62-yard touchdown run less than two minutes into the third quarter to put the Rams in front and North Polk was unable to immediately respond.
But the Comet defense held the rest of the quarter and North Polk started to find some rhythm on offense. With nine minutes, 12 seconds left in the fourth quarter, the Comets completed a scoring drive when Garrett Moeckly powered in on a 1-yard run to give North Polk a 20-19 lead.
The Comets went for two on the ensuing extra point, but came up empty. Then it was up to the defense.
North Polk managed to keep Greene County off the board the rest of the way to make it 4-for-4 over the Rams the past two years. The Comets also advanced to the second round for the fourth-straight time and improved their overall record to 9-1.
“We are excited to be back in the second round of the playoffs,” Groepper said.
North Polk mustered only 226 yards of total offense. But the dominant Comet defense held the Rams to 242 yards.
Moeckly ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries. Cole Jackson completed 10 of 23 passes for 82 yards with two interceptions and added 35 yards and one touchdown run.
Landon Schuessler was the top Comet receiver with four catches for 36 yards. Braedon Ingersoll had one 23-yard grab and Grant Schiltz and Matt Cox each made two catches for 10 yards.
On defense Jon Lackore made 10 tackles, Collin Hoshaw tallied nine, Blake Brauer had eight and Austin Williams finished with seven. Williams and Ryan Polich each recovered a fumble and Brauer came through with the special teams play of the game for the Comets with a blocked punt.
Weitl did most of the damage for Greene County as he finished with 156 rushing yards on 20 carries. T.J. Lint added 26 yards both rushing and receiving, Tyler Beger had one 36-yard reception and Daric Whipple threw for 79 yards and one touchdown to Jake Carey for the Rams.
Max Neese scored the first Greene County touchdown midway through the second quarter when he followed a 6-yard Moeckly score with a 94-yard kickoff return for six. The Rams finished the season at 5-5.
North Polk 20, Greene County 19
NP 7 7 0 6 – 20
GC 0 13 6 0 – 19
NP – Cole Jackson 1 run (Carter Hartwig kick), 11:18
NP – Moeckly 6 run (Hartwig kick), 5:26
GC – Max Neese 94 kickoff return (Nick Schroeder kick), 5;08
GC – Jake Carey 9 pass from Daric Whipple (kick failed), 1:43
GC – J.C. Weitl 62 run (kick failed), 10:15
NP – Moeckly 1 run (two-point conversion failed), 9:12
Team statistics NP GC
First downs 24 20
Rushes-yards 29-144 41-163
Passing 10-23-2 6-13-0
Passing yards 82 79
Total yards 226 242
Fumbles lost 3 2
Punts-average 5-34.8 4-37.3
Rushing: NP – Garrett Moeckly 21-107, Cole Jackson 6-35, Alec White 2-2. GC – J.C. Weitl 20-156, T.J. Lint 3-26, Dylan Hamilton 4-14, Jordan Challen 3-(-1), Daric Whipple 10-(-4), Reid Lamoureux 1-(-28).
Passing: NP – Jackson 10-23-2-82. GC – Whipple 6-13-0-79.
Receiving: NP – Landon Schuessler 4-36, Braedon Ingersoll 1-23, Matt Cox 2-10, Grant Schiltz 2-10, White 1-3. GC – Tyler Beger 1-36, Lint 3-26, Jake Carey 1-9, Challen 1-8.
Tackles: NP – Jon Lackore 10, Collin Hoshaw 9, Blake Brauer 8, Austin Williams 7.
Fumble recoveries: NP – Williams, Ryan Polich.