DEWITT, Iowa — If you don’t think turnovers play a major role in the outcome of a football game, you should have been at Birney Field on Friday night.
Central DeWitt outplayed Davenport Assumption in almost every way, piling up three times as many yards and four times as many first downs as the visiting Knights, but it somehow came up short in a heart-wrenching 17-14 overtime loss.
It was all because of five turnovers, the last of which robbed the inspired Sabers of a chance to win the game in the extra period.
After Assumption’s Franz Sirna gave Assumption the lead with a 25-yard field goal in overtime, the Sabers drove to the 3-yard line, but Henry Bloom’s pitchout on a third-down play ended up on the ground and Assumption’s Josh VanSeveren recovered to secure the victory for the Knights.
"I don’t really know how we managed to win that game," Assumption coach Wade King said. "Our defense played well enough to keep us in it, I guess, but between all the penalties and blown assignments, it wasn’t a good night."
King said Central DeWitt (2-4, 0-2 in Class 3A District 5) deserved to win the game.
"They handled us upfront and had a great game plan coming in," he said. "We didn’t.
"We’ve been pretty successful against DeWitt in the past, and honestly, our kids came in overconfident. Probably our whole program came in overconfident. It’s on all of us."
Assumption finished with just 114 yards of offense and only four first downs while DeWitt rolled up 365 yards and 17 first downs. Bloom rushed for 136 yards and passed for 149 all by himself, but he also threw three interceptions.
Assumption junior Dayne Hodge accounted for three of the turnovers, twice picking off Bloom passes and recovering a fumbled punt at the 7-yard line to set up Assumption’s game-tying touchdown. However, he also felt the Knights (4-2, 2-0) were outplayed most of the night.
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"Our defense just gutted it out," he said. "We have a lot of faith in our defense and we just hung tough.
"Give credit to DeWitt. They’re a tough, hard-nosed team but I’m proud of our team for finding a way to get the win."
The Sabers grabbed the upper hand on the opening play of the game as Assumption quarterback Tyler Kulhanek was jarred as he threw a pass and the ball sailed into the hands of DeWitt linebacker Connor Scheer, who returned it 27 yards.
Bloom took it from there, flipping a 4-yard scoring pass to Zach Hinkle to grab a 7-0 lead.
Assumption’s Simon Weitz returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards up the right sideline, but the Knights missed the extra point and trailed 7-6.
Bloom added to the lead late in the first quarter as he charged through a gaping hole on the right side on a quarterback keeper, cut back to the middle of the field and sprinted 63 yards for a touchdown
The 14-6 score held until DeWitt’s Sean McNamara mishandled a punt late in the third quarter with Hodge recovering at the 7. The Knights still struggled to punch it in, but Kulhanek finally fired a 5-yard TD pass to Owen Hamel on fourth down, then hit Seth Adrian with a 2-point conversion pass to tie it at 14 with just five seconds gone in the final quarter.
The Sabers moved inside the Assumption 30-yard line three more times in regulation but an interception by Weitz ended one threat and they turned it over on downs at the 27 with 55 seconds remaining. They got it back one more time but time ran out as Bloom ran for 21 yards to the 26-yard line.
"We just didn’t make the plays we needed to," DeWitt coach Ryan Streets said. "The kids did everything we asked. It just didn’t happen tonight."