Big plays lift Comets over Mustangs

Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High quarterback Charles Apt (13) has a clear path to throw the football on this play against Chanute High’s Blue Comets Friday night in Chanute. Apt’s top target of the night was Seth Walden (83) (below) for nine catches for 95 yards. Chanute defeated Iola 34-13.

CHANUTE — Iola High’s Mustangs came back from a 14-0 halftime deficit to get within one point, 14-13, of Chanute High's Blue Comets Friday night.
In a Kansas Class 4A, District 6 contest between the Southeast Kansas League foes, the Comets got three big plays in a six-minute span to push out again. The Comets dashed the Mustangs’ upset bid 34-13.
“We played well for three quarters. Defensively, we were great in the first half and in the locker room at halftime down 14-0, we feel good about where we are,” said Rick Horton, Mustang head coach.
Iola took the second-half kickoff and marched right down the field in four plays. Charles Apt found Seth Walden for a 34-yard pass play.
Then the football went to tailback Marcus Sullivan three straight plays. Sullivan ripped off a 21 yard gain then a nine-yard run to Chanute’s one-yard line. Sullivan went right up the middle for the touchdown with 11:01 on the clock.
With Connor Frazell’s kick, it was 14-7.
Three plays after the ensuing kickoff, the Mustangs had their second takeaway of the game. Aaron Fulton forced a fumble by Chanute’s T.J. Walls and Sullivan recovered the football at Chanute’s 38.
The Mustangs overcame a lose of eight yards when Apt connected with Frazell for four yards then Seth Walden for five yards.
Apt scrambled for another first down 13 yards closer to paydirt. Apt, who was 18 of 31 for 160 yards, found Seth Walden again for a four-yard pickup.
On third down, Apt threw a strike to Chris Heffern over the middle and the senior fullback scored on the 11-yard play, The extra-point attempt went awry and a pass failed, leaving it 14-13.
After stopping the Comets cold on their next possession, the Mustangs had the football at their own 48-yard line. But went no where and punted it back to Chanute.
Chanute was on its 18-yard line. Big play No. 1 — an 82-yard hook up from Matt Bollig to Walls for the touchdown.
Iola was still in a good situation. The Mustangs blocked the extra point kick.
The Mustangs picked up a first down on their next series but couldn’t get past a nine-yard loss on a play and punted again.
Big play No. 2 — a 62-yard dash to the end zone by Jared McComb on the first play of the fourth quarter, 11:50. Andrew Parish kicked the extra point.
Alec Haight, who scored both of Chanute's first-half touchdowns via receptions, caught another pass. But it was an Iola pass and he made the interception on Iola’s first play of its series.
Big play No. 3 — at the 10:32 mark, helped out by a personal foul penalty against Iola, McComb busted loose on a 35-yard touchdown run. Parish’s kick made it 34-13.
The Mustangs drove to the Blue Comet 39-yard line on their next possession. But the Comets held fast.
Chanute pushed back down the field. After back-to-back holding penalties, the Blue Comets faced a first-and-goal at the 28 yard line. They got 22 yards on a pass play.
The Mustangs held fast this time. Walls was denied the end zone on a fourth-and-goal at the two. Iola stopped Walls just short of the goal line with 2:40 left in the game.
Now 1-1 in district play and 3-5 overall, the Mustangs “have our destiny in our own hands,” Horton said.
“We win and we’re in. We lose and we packed all up for the season. Our kids played hard tonight and owned the third quarter and we have to take that into what we do next week.”
Iola hosts Anderson County High’s Bulldogs, a 41-13 winner of Fort Scott Friday night, Thursday in the regular season finale. The winner takes second in District 6 and advances to the Class 4A playoffs.
It appeared the Comets were going to blast away quickly on the Mustangs. Bollig broke out of Iola containment six plays into the game. Bollig was on his way to a touchdown, 42 yards, but just shy of the goal line, Iola defense sent a message.
“We’re here to play.” Senior linebacker Shane Snavely forced Bollig to fumble the football into the end zone. Iola senior defensive back Seth Browning recovered the ball for a touchback.
Horton said the Mustang defense, which was led by senior linebacker Kyler Thompson, did a great job to limiting the Comets for three quarters.
“Kyler played a great game. He played like the all-league player that he is defensively. When there is a big hit in a game, No. 52 is there,” Horton.
Thompson recorded 12 unassisted tackles, seven assisted tackles, two tackles for loss and a quarterback sack. The sack came with 3:06 left in the first quarter and Bollig was injured on the play.
Bollig did not scramble away any more, hampered with a knee injury. But the Comet quarterback directed his team to the win. Bollig passed for 235 yards, completing 8 of 18 passes. Three of those passes went for touchdowns.
He hit Haight for an 18-yard scoring strike with 5:41 left in the first quarter. Bollig would find Haight again with 6.3 seconds left in the first half for a 12-yard touchdown pass play. That put the Comets up 14-0.
Iola’s Chris Heffern collected six solo tackles and five assists while junior linebacker Kyle Heffern racked up seven solo stops and two assists. Snavely had five solo tackles.
“The key to the third quarter success was our linemen finally fired off the line. They did a great job of owning the line of scrimmage,” Horton said. “We mixed up the pass and run well in that quarter.”
Horton said Apt threw the football well and Seth Walden did a great job catching the football. Seth Walden caught nine passes for 95 yards for Iola. Chris Heffern had four catches for 23 yards.
Iola only had two yards rushing in the first half. The Mustangs ended up with 36 yards for the game.
Iola 0-0-13-0—13
Chanute 7-7-6-14—34

Chanute — Haight 18 yd pass from Bollig (Parish kick)
Chanute — Haight 12 yd pass from Bollig (Parish kick)
Iola — Sullivan 1 yd run (Frazell kick)
Iola — Ch. Heffern 11 yd pass from Apt (PAT failed)
Chanute — Walls 82 yd pass from Bollig (kick blocked)
Chanute — McComb 62 yd run (Parish kick)
Chanute — McComb 35 yd run (Parish kick)

Individual Statistics
Rushing: Iola-Sullivan 20-18, Heffern 7-9, Apt 6-11, Frazell 2-(-2). Chanute-McComb 14-124, Walls 12-54, Bollig 8-44, Haight 1-(-2), Catterson 3-6, McMillan 2-4.
Passing: Iola-Apt 18-31-160-2. Chanute-Bollig 8-17-235-0.
Receiving: Iola-S. Walden 9-95, Ch. Heffern 4-23, Frazell 2-16, Sullivan 2-13, Browning 1-13.
Punting: Iola-Frazell 6-188 (31 yd avg.). Chanute- Hartwig 3-92 (30 yd avg.)