RINSE, REPEAT: Defense stingy again, carries Lynx by Gilbert

GILBERT – The disgust was all over the faces of Gus Gasca, Nelson Ball, Gavin Dinsdale, Brandon Patten and the rest of their defensive cohorts as they trudged off the field after giving up points for the first time this season midway through the first quarter as the sun dipped in the sky here Friday evening.

And on a screen pass to boot. The head shaking didn’t stop for several minutes.

But that disgust quickly turned to anger, which only fueled Webster City over the final 40 minutes.

“We made that mistake so we had to come back tougher,” Gasca, a senior defensive tackle, said. “Them scoring – that’s why we came back and had a tighter defense the rest of the game.”

Gilbert never sniffed the end zone again and WCHS rattled off the game’s last 18 points during the final three periods to secure an 18-6 victory over the Tigers.

It wasn’t always pretty – particularly offensively where the Lynx (2-0) again sputtered throughout, translating into just five first downs all night – but undefeated is undefeated after two weeks. And the six points allowed in two games – the Lynx blanked Ballard 13-0 in Week 1 – are the least amount offered up in a two-game stretch since Oct. of 2009 when they knocked off Hampton-Dumont, 20-6, and Waverly-Shell Rock, 35-0, in back-to-back weeks.

“I think we’ve got a pretty decent defense, but we’re not even close to where we need to be offensively,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said.

Gilbert amassed just 204 yards of offense and only 86 on the ground. Junior quarterback Jared Gescheidler proved to be slippery on several extended scampers, but he also got dumped in the backfield for five sacks, fumbled once and threw a pair of interceptions.

Junior middle linebacker Rylee Lawson was a force again with nine solo tackles, including a pair of sacks, and a late interception down inside the Lynx red zone that sealed Gilbert’s fate.

Gasca and linebacker Nelson Ball both jumped in on seven tackles. Gasca, Dinsdale and Patten all notched sacks.

“He’s a good quarterback,” Howard said of Gescheidler, who rushed for 32 yards and passed for 118 and a touchdown, “but for the most part we did fairly well against him. We’re not very big, but we are pretty strong and pretty physical.”

The majority of Gescheidler’s aerial yards came on two plays. The 30-yard screen in the left flat to Darin Rinehart gave the Tigers (1-1) a 6-0 lead with 4:45 left in the first quarter. Wyatt Rhoads reeled in a 57-yard bomb with under two minutes remaining, but was pulled down from behind by Lynx defensive back Joey Root and moments later Lawson stepped in front of a Gescheidler pass to end the threat.

Patten also picked off an errant throw. Ball and Gasca both flopped on top of fumbles.

WCHS capitalized on two of Gilbert’s turnovers and a shanked punt to score all of its points.

Following a fourth-and-one conversion on a powerful run by Connor Larson, Lynx spinback Trey Tesdahl orchestrated play-action perfectly and found Ben Mossman all by his lonesome in the open field. The 35-yard touchdown heave tied the game at 6 just four minutes into the second quarter.

“The passing game looks good because you’ve got to keep 10 guys in the box to tackle Connor,” Tesdahl said after completing 3-of-10 passes, all to Mossman, for 57 yards and a pair of scores. “He doesn’t go down without half a team on him.”

A short punt on Gilbert’s next series set the Lynx up at the Tigers’ 35, and just 1:43 later – on fourth-and-four – Tesdahl pulled off Howard’s bread-and-butter jump pass perfectly and found Mossman open for a 13-yard scoring strike to push the Lynx in front for the first time, 12-6.

The fourth-down jump pass seems like it’s a given in Howard’s single wing scheme, and yet opponents usually get caught off guard.

“There’s just something about it; I don’t even know what it is,” Tesdahl said. “I don’t even know if it’s a good play, but it’s just magic I guess.”

WCHS held the six-point lead until Larson added some breathing room with a punishing 11-yard rumble to the house with six minutes remaining in the third quarter.

The touchdown was set up by Gasca’s fumble recovery at the Gilbert 14. Lynx freshman punter Drew Fielder pinned the Tigers at their own 2 to start the drive.

Fielder averaged better than 40 yards per punt for the second straight week and twice bottled up the Tigers inside their own 10.

“As far as I’m concerned the reason we won the game was the field position with punting and punt coverage,” Howard said. “That swinging the field position, especially when you’re sputtering around on offense like we did, really helps. It’s a weapon.

“Dalton Draeger, the snapper, deserves a lot of credit, too. He hadn’t snapped on a punt until last week.”

Larson surpassed 100 yards rushing for the second week in a row and ninth time in his career with 108 yards on 22 totes. Tesdahl gained 33 yards on 10 carries.

WCHS managed just 153 ground yards on 36 carries – an average of just 4.25 yards per attempt. More troubling, the Lynx had seven three-and-out series and no drive lasted longer than 2 minutes, 44 seconds – quite uncharacteristic for a Howard-led team that thrives on the ground-and-pound game. Gilbert owned a more than four-minute advantage in time of possession.

Larson’s 11-yard jaunt to the end zone in the third quarter was the Lynx first double-digit carry of the game.

“Offensively we’re a long ways from being very good,” Howard said. “Our linemen need to grow up fast. In spurts we got it going, but what upset me the most was their safety, corner and other corner were sitting five yards from the ball. We had guys running open down the field and we were getting pressured, so that’s definitely got to improve, otherwise teams can put 11 guys in the box and we won’t be able to pass.”