Mustangs are better mudders than Tigers

Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High’s Kyler Thompson (52), Nick Mueller (30) and Ethan Fulton (34) converge on Fort Scott High’s quarterback Trevor Swim (7) in the second half of Friday’s district game at Iola’s Riverside Park. Iola defeated Fort Scott 18-12.
Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High’s Marcus Sullivan kicks up his heels after scoring his second touchdown in Friday’s 18-12 win over Fort Scott.

In a game as sloppy as the playing field, Iola High Mustangs came away with an 18-12 victory over visiting Fort Scott High’s Tigers Friday night.
Breaking out of a second-half of terrible field position, Mustang quarterback Chris Heffern dashed 77 yards for a tie-breaking touchdown. Heffern’s run came with 8:26 left in the game.
Then it was up to Iola’s defense. Senior defensive ends Aaron Fulton and Ethan Fulton made their presence felt in the Tiger backfield all night long.
The Mustangs put a premium on takeaways. They forced three Tiger fumbles in the first half — two by Aaron Fulton and one by Ethan Fulton. Aaron Fulton recovered one of the fumbles.
A quarterback sack by Aaron Fulton came at a crucial time in the fourth quarter. The Tigers were winning the field position battle in the second half.
Fort Scott got the football on Iola’s 35-yard line with the score tied at 12-all. There was 11:05 left in the game.
Iola held Tiger running back Chris Archie to two small gains on the first two plays of the series. Fort Scott quarterback Trevor Swim went back to pass and Aaron Fulton threw him or a six-yard loss. That forced the Tigers to punt again.
Three plays later, Heffern scrambled away from trouble and raced down the sideline for the go-ahead touchdown.
Heffern drew the start at quarterback because Charles Apt was out because of illness. That made a shift in personnel for the Mustangs.
Iola did have starting tailback Marcus Sullivan back in the lineup after two and a half weeks from a hamstring injury. Sullivan rushed for 90 yards on 32 carries and scored two touchdowns.
Heffern, who rushed for 157 yards on 20 carries, moved from fullback to quarterback. Freshman Stephen McDonald got his first start at fullback. Aaron Fulton rotated in at fullback.
Another shift in personnel happened with 6:31 left in the first quarter. After Iola had recovered a fumble at the Tigers’ 27-yard line, Heffern’s pass was intercepted and returned 85 yards for a touchdown by Fort Scott’s Gary Floyd.
On that return, Iola starting senior center Darin Hutton was flagged for a personal foul and ejected from the game. The penalty was for helmet to helmet contact.
“With Darin out, Drew Shepherd went in as center and he did a good job. We’ve talked all season about working through adversity and the kids did a good job tonight,” said Rick Horton, Mustang head coach.
“It wasn’t a thing of beauty but we’ll take it.”
Iola goes 1-0 in Class 4A, District 6 play and improved to 3-4 overall. It was also a Southeast Kansas League contest and Iola is 2-3 in league play.
Aaron Fulton also blocked two extra-point kick attempts by the Tigers in the game. The first came after Floyd’s score in the first quarter.
The Mustangs answered with an 11-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. Iola moved down the field on runs by Sullivan and Heffern plus two five-yard face mask penalties against Fort Scott.
Sullivan finished the march on a 16-yard touchdown run with 2:18 left on the block. Unfortunately, Connor Frazell’s kick was just wide of the uprights leaving the score knotted at 6-6.
That what it was at halftime. Iola missed on two field goal attempts and gave up the football on downs at the Fort Scott one-yard line.
“That was a bit frustrating. We drove the ball from the 20 to the 20 but in the scoring zone we made mistakes that stopped us,” Horton said. “We have to do better than that.
“The field goals weren’t Connor’s fault. We had two different people long snapping in the game in place of Darin and our timing was not good.”
The Mustangs took the second-half kickoff and powered down the field to the end zone. Sullivan had a 13-yard run and Ethan Fulton had a 16-yard run.
Iola finished this one in the red zone. Sullivan pushed over from one-yard out with 8:52 in the third quarter. Again the kick sailed wide.
Fort Scott’s second touchdown came with 4:14 left in the third quarter. The Tigers went just 40 yards in four plays as Archie ripped off a 23-yard run to paydirt.
Aaron Fulton broke through for another block to keep it tied at 12-12.
Kyler Thompson racked up 10 unassisted tackles and five assists plus a tackle for loss leading Iola’s defensive charge. Heffern had seven solo stops and five assisted tackles.
Shepherd recorded three solo stops and four assisted tackles while Kyle Heffern had two solo stops and five assisted tackles. Shane Snavely made two unassisted tackles and four assisted tackles.
Aaron Fulton, Snavely and Shepherd each had a fumble recovery.
“Defensively, our kids played really well. We gave up just one drive but in the second half we had to defend short fields and the guys stepped up the challenge,” Horton said.
“We still have to work on being more discipline offensively and limit the silly penalties.”
Iola had nine penalties for 70 yards while Fort Scott had four for 30 yards.
Iola had 265 yards on 55 carries for the game. The Mustang defense held the Tigers to 82 yards on the ground and one pass play for five yards.
Iola defeated Fort Scott for the second year in a row. The last time that happened was in 1985 and 1986.
Next up for the Mustangs is archrival Chanute. Chanute High’s Blue Comets pounded Anderson County High’s Bulldogs 53-21 Friday in district play.
Iola goes to Chanute next Friday. It will be the Mustangs’ final SEK game.
Iola 6-0-6-6—18
Fort Scott 6-0-6-0—12

Fort Scott — Floyd 85 yd interception return (kick blocked)
Iola — Sullivan 16 yd run (kick failed)
Iola — Sullivan 1 yd run (kick failed)
Fort Scott — Archie 23 yd run (kick blocked)
Iola — Ch. Heffern 77 yd run (pass failed)

Individual Statistics
Rushing: Iola-Sullivan 32-90, Ch. Heffern 20-157, E. Fulton 3-18. Fort Scott-Archie 13-56, Cannon 10-37, Brown 2-(-10), Swim 5-(-5), Floyd 2-5.
Passing: Iola-Ch. Heffern 2-13-14-1. Fort Scott-Swim 1-7-5-0, Brown 0-1-0-0.
Receiving: Iola-E. Fulton 1-2, Browning 1-12. Fort Scott-Knopp 1-5.
Punting: Iola-Frazell 6-200 (33 yd avg.). Fort Scott-Knopp 8-304 (38 yd avg.)