Early turnovers, costly penalties plague Rams in 28-13 loss to Iowa Falls-Alden


Sports Editor 



Jefferson – A pair of defensive touchdowns and three drive-killing penalties severely handcuffed the Greene County football team Friday, Sept. 23 as they lost their fifth straight game, a 28-13 defeat at the hands of Iowa Falls-Alden.

The Rams are now 0-5 on the year and 0-3 in Class 3A, district two after droppimg the homecoming contest.  

An early first quarter stop by the Ram defense capped by a Trey Tucker sack was quickly erased from memory on the ensuing offensive play as the Cadets forced and recovered a fumble in the end zone to set the early tone and take a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the game. 

Iowa Falls-Alden scored again a few drives later on a 24-yard touchdown run to sprint out a14-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Cadet defense got on the board for the second time in the opening quarter thanks to a returned interception for a touchdown off of quarterback Clint Dennhardt to take a commanding 21-0 lead. 

Greene County head coach Dean Lansman was disappointed in the start his squad put forth in the opening 12 minutes. Allowing defensive touchdowns wasn’t something his offense typically is known for.  

“We really hadn’t done that the first four weeks (turn the ball over) and going into the game we thought we had a good chance of winning,” the coach said. “(Iowa Falls-Alden) capitalized on two critical turnovers that we had and that was a hard thing to look at when you sit back and look at the game overall.”

The Rams found themselves in an early first quarter hole for the second straight home contest. Dallas Center-Grimes jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the opening minutes on Sept. 9, eventually pulling out a 18-12 victory. 

 “I don’t know if it’s a preparation thing, whether the kids aren’t ready to go or what,” Lansman said. “But you think being ready to go on your home field is a big advantage but the other teams have come out and have gotten on us early and that makes a big difference.”

The Rams began their comeback in the second quarter thanks to a 28-yard touchdown run by Tucker to close the score to 21-6 with 9:55 left in the second quarter. The Greene County offense would threaten one other time in the first half, but a costly penalty derailed the promising drive. 

An illegal procedure on first and goal pushed the Rams back to the 11 yard-line. Following a sack a few plays later, Greene County missed a 31-yard field goal just before time expired and the Rams entered the break down 21-6. 

Tucker, who finished the night with 110 rush yards, put together another long run early in the third quarter, this time down to the three-yard line, but the gain was once again called back thanks to a holding penalty. The ball was moved back to the Ram 45 yard line, killing yet another drive. 

“It’s just one of those things whether or not we’ve done it before, and the officials haven’t seen it but watching the film, they were pretty easy to see. We have to work on those things,” Lansman said. “It’s something we’ve discussed as coaches.” 

The defense was a strong point again in the second half, as Charlie Gunn sacked Iowa Falls-Alden quarterback Ben Scadden to force a punt midway through the third quarter. 

Dennhardt would get in on the rushing success on the ensuing drive, turning a designed quarterback run into a long gain down to the Cadet 36 yard line. Thanks to a pass interference by Iowa Falls-Alden, the Rams entered the red zone once again, and this time, they would convert. 

Tucker punched in his second touchdown of the day from seven yards out to close the score to 21-13 and the Rams entered the fourth quarter down just eight. More penalties continued to be a thorn in Greene County’s side, as a potential game-tying 38-yard touchdown from Tucker on a fourth and four play call early in the final quarter was wiped off the board on yet another holding penalty. As a result, the Rams were forced to punt the ball away instead of tacking more points on the board. It was the second drive-killing penalty of the half. 

“A couple things like that, we had some crucial penalties at times. Those were the biggest keys between winning and losing that ball game,” Lansman said. “A couple of them weren’t even close to the play, so that makes it even a little worse. The kids understand those were big plays and we just can’t have that.” 

Dennhardt would throw his second interception of the day near midfield a few drives later and Iowa Falls-Alden didn’t take long to capitalize, capping a methodical drive with a nine yard touchdown run giving the Cadets a 28-13 lead with just over seven minutes remaining. The two squads would go on to trade punts as Iowa Falls-Alden relied on running back Logan Ward to run out the clock. Greene County never threatened to score again over the final seven minutes. 

Outside of the first quarter in which the Rams fell into a 21-0 hole, the defense allowed just seven points and a total of 204 yards. 

“I think the kids take pride in it but they understand it’s a team game and a lot of those guys play on both sides of the ball,” Lansman said. “Defensively, they know what our game plan is and what we want to do.” 

While the pass game continues to struggle (Dennhardt was just five-of-23 for 29 yards), the rushing attack witnessed perhaps its best game to date, totaling 253 yards and two touchdowns. Dennhardt produced a career-best 96 rushing yards to aid Tucker’s two touchdown effort. Take away three drive-killing penalties and the Rams could’ve produced an even bigger output, along with more points. 

“We saw a lot of positives. You just take out the bad things that happened and we would’ve had well over 300 yards,” Lansman said. “Obviously, we made some gains, but penalties got the best of us. We have to keep improving.”

The Rams are on the road Friday as they take on district-leading Boone, who is 3-0 in district play. 


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