ESCAPE ARTIST: No. 10 WCHS rallies, survives vs. Comets in OT

WEBSTER CITY – One quick glance up was all Drew Fielder took before he turned and sprinted towards the sideline with his arms raised. He was already jumping into the arms of his teammates as the referee raised his arms signaling the kick was good.

The biggest moment in the budding freshman’s football career came when Webster City needed him the most.

Following three straight misses on extra points dating back to the fourth quarter of a Week 1 win over Ballard, Fielder stayed out of his own head long enough to split the uprights to break a 26-all tie in overtime and send the 10th-ranked Lynx to a survival-mode 27-26 victory over winless Charles City in the Class 3A District 3 opener Friday night at Lynx Field.

“It hit perfectly on my foot and I knew it was dead straight,” Fielder, who pushed his first PAT attempt of the game wide left in the first quarter, said. “Coach (Bob Howard) just told me to relax, keep my head down and kick the ball like I did all summer, and that’s what I did.”

Charles City (0-3, 0-1) – losers of 17 straight games dating back to September of 2011 – had WCHS (3-0, 1-0) on the ropes for much of the second half, but was never able to deliver the knockout blow. Even when the Comets scored quickly in overtime to jump ahead 26-20, they failed to convert on a two-point run attempt and left the door open for the Lynx to prevail.

Two Connor Larson runs – the first covering nine yards before he dove from the 1-yard line and across the goal line – drew the Lynx even and set the stage for Fielder’s game-winning chip shot.

“We didn’t play our best, but it feels good (to be 3-0) because I know we’re going to continue to get better,” WCHS senior wide receiver Ben Mossman said after catching six passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

The Comets owned a 284-269 advantage in total offense, including a 187-169 edge on the ground. They forced five turnovers and possessed the ball for nearly five minutes longer in the second half and better than four minutes more in the contest.

And yet WCHS won … somehow.

“It’s great to win and it’s nice to be able to chew some butt after you win,” WCHS head coach Bob Howard said. “I don’t want to kill the excitement and enthusiasm, but we also didn’t play well in spots. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”

WCHS jumped out to a 12-0 lead with just under 5 minutes remaining in the second quarter. Larson’s first of three touchdown runs covered eight yards and on the Lynx next possession Mossman split two defenders on a pass from spinback Trey Tesdahl and raced 42 yards to the house.

“I saw one guy and I knew I had to go get the ball from him, so that’s what I did,” Mossman said.

But the early lead was actually the beginning of the downfall, Howard said.

“We got up 12-0 and we relaxed,” he said.

A 47-yard burst up the gut on a fullback trap by Dylan Isakson pushed the Comets down to the WCHS 5 and Brian Foster plunged into the end zone on the next play for his team’s first touchdown of the season with 3:25 to go in the first half.

But Charles City wasn’t done.

With just 16 ticks left in the half, quarterback Levi Miller hit Thomas Nairn in stride across the middle for a 20-yard touchdown, and suddenly the Lynx went to the locker room trailing 14-12.

“We definitely could have played better. Our defense needed to step it up a little bit,” WCHS senior linebacker Nelson Ball said after registering six solo tackles. “We can’t let them put up 26 points in a game.”

The Comets stayed hot early in the third quarter and pushed their cushion to 20-12 on a fourth-and-goal touchdown pass from Miller to Nairn that covered three yards. But WCHS senior Dylan Fielder stopped the bleeding by blocking the PAT to keep the Lynx within one score.

“Dylan Fielder’s blocked extra point was a huge play and that may have been the game right there because that kept us where we had a shot,” Howard said.

Tyler Lockwood kept the momentum for the Lynx by returning the ensuing kickoff 69 yards up the seam and then down the sideline before being tackled at the Comets’ 14. Larson pushed his way into the end zone from three yards out several plays later and then tacked on the two-point run to knot the game at 20.

Larson again led the Lynx rushing attack with 78 yards on 21 carries. Tesdahl churned out 77 yards on 15 totes to go with 100 passing yards on seven completions.

WCHS again struggled to gain offensive traction. There were 11 plays that went backwards and only four runs that netted double-digit yardage, the longest on a 29-yard scamper by Larson late in the fourth quarter.

Lockwood made another game-changing – perhaps even game-saving – play midway through the fourth quarter. Charles City methodically maneuvered down the field and converted on another fourth down play to get to the Lynx 20, but on the next snap Lockwood stepped in front of a Miller pass near the goal line for an interception.

“Tyler’s a tough kid and he’s one that’s going to make plays,” Howard said. “In a 27-26 game, they’re all big plays.”

WCHS gave the ball right back to the Comets on their fifth turnover though; Foster returned an interception down to the Lynx 8 with just 2:57 left on the clock.

But Charles City was in the giving mood as well, as Isakson fumbled on the very next play and Lynx senior defensive tackle Gus Gasca was there to fall on top.

Isakson led all rushers with 125 yards on 16 carries. Foster churned out 68 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. Miller completed 8 of 13 passes for 97 yards.

Linebacker Rylee Lawson again led all Lynx defenders with 7 tackles, including five solos.

WCHS will stay local for homecoming week, as it gets set to host rival Iowa Falls-Alden (1-2, 0-1) on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The Cadets – losers of two straight – were dealt a 42-22 setback by No. 8-ranked Humboldt in their district opener.