ANAMOSA - For the second straight week, the Anamosa football team was embroiled up in a pressure-cooker of a game that was headed right down to the final seconds against visiting Iowa Falls-Alden Friday, Oct. 2.
You could feel the tension on the sideline as the Raider defense desperately tried to hang on to a 27-21 lead as the Cadets were marching down the field in the waning seconds.
This time however, there would be no Anamosa heartbreak, as Trey Klatt, who was inches away from making a miraculous catch that would have sent the Raiders home winners a week ago at Maquoketa, this time sealed the victory for the hosts with an interception near the Anamosa goal line.
“We talked before the game about making the switch to playoff football and our kids responded,” said Raider football coach Caleb Huss, as his team did indeed hold on for the thrilling six-point victory allowing seniors Klatt, Connor Andresen, Colton Borst, Nolan McLean, Tate Little, Seth Schoon, Justin Tjaden, Sage Hoyt, Alex Casey, Levi Ehresman, Dalton Lovell, Nathan Keating, Caleb Otting, Dustin Starn, Austin Kirby, Chayse Sams, Andrew Morris, Dominic Haas, Colin Heeren and Cameron Jenkins to walk off the field exactly the way they had hoped they would.
“Friday was great for our guys. They all played really well and fought from beginning to end. It was an awesome feeling getting to see the seniors, who have given so much to this program, walk off the field on top in their last home game. They deserve it more than anything and it has been an awesome experience getting to coach this group.”
There were moments of de’ja’ vu however, as Anamosa (2-4) broke a 21-21 tie in the third quarter when Klatt hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Grahm Humpal, giving the hosts the six-point lead.
When Hoyt recovered an Iowa Falls fumble with 2:27 to play in the final frame, it appeared the Raiders had done enough to get the win, but the Cadets got one more chance getting the ball back with 1:04 remaining after burning all of their timeouts during Anamosa’s three-play possession.
“Our last two offensive possessions were great and we took a ton of time off the fourth quarter clock,” Huss said. “Defensively, on Iowa Falls’ last two drives, you could tell our guys had been in this same position before and they learned from it.
“We did a nice job of handling the pressure of another late-game situation and forcing their offense to make tough plays to get down the field.”
Klatt’s game-ending and game-winning interception came as time expired.
Anamosa never trailed in the game, though it was a back-and-forth contest before the Raider defense took over in the final 12-minutes.
Humpal scored on the opening possession of the game leading the Raider offense down the field on a 12-play, 74-yard drive with the Anamosa quarterback cashing it in with a six-yard scoring scamper.
“We talked before the game about going out and having a great first offensive series and defensive series and really just set the tone for the game,” Huss said. “Not only did we score on our first drive, but more importantly we got a stop on their first drive.”
Iowa Falls answered two possessions later however, with an 8-play, 74-yard drive of their own to tie the score at 7-7 after one quarter of play.
It didn’t take long for the Raiders to get that lead right back, as Klatt received the ensuing kick-off and raced 91-yards through the Cadet special teams unit and into the end zone.
After another Dominic Haas extra point, the hosts led 14-7.
“That was a big turning point in the game,” said Huss of Klatt’s huge return. “Our blocking was tremendous on that play and that group deserves a ton of credit. It was great to be able to score so quickly after their touchdown and quickly flip the momentum.”
Once again, Iowa Falls answered scoring with 1:16 remaining in the half sending the teams into the break in a 14-14 tie.
After the Anamosa defense once again stood strong, with Sam Wilt recovering a fumble ending one Cadet possession and the Raiders holding the visitors on downs in the next, Raider running back Alex Casey went back to work.
“I thought our offensive line, again, took over at times and allowed us to keep the ball moving,” Huss said. “Our run game was very good again and I was happy to see Alex have such a good game.”
Casey exploded for a huge 49-yard touchdown run with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter to once again give the Raiders a seven-point lead.
But again, it didn’t last.
Iowa Falls quickly marched the football right back down the field and scored with 3:21 to play in the third, and again the score was tied.
“Defensively, I have to give credit to our interior line again,” Huss said. “They did a great job of handling another good running attack and preparing for some things we had not seen yet this year. Our defensive backs did a good job of keeping plays in front of them and our safeties were helpful in the run game.”
The Raider offense gave their defense a bit of a break in the fourth quarter as well, taking more than six minutes off the clock on a methodical nine-play drive that ended with a punt.
“No one is ready for this journey to be over yet and we’re excited for the opportunity to keep playing,” said Huss, as Anamosa wraps the regular season Friday night at Tipton before opening the class 2A playoffs at a site yet to be determined Friday, Oct. 16.
Casey had big night in the ground game for the Raiders rushing for 145 yards on 22 carries.
Humpal balanced Casey’s running with an outstanding performance in the passing game completing 19-of-26 for 189 yards.
Klatt had a huge final home game scoring two touchdowns while also playing outstanding defensively against an Iowa Falls team the Raiders didn’t even know they were going to play until mid-week. Anamosa was scheduled to host West Liberty, but when the Comets cancelled that contest, Anamosa athletic director Bret Jones quickly went shopping for a new opponent.
Chayse Sams paced the opportunistic Raider defense, who forced four Cadet turnovers, making 13 tackles while Kole Dietiker added 10 more.