Mustangs topple the Grizzlies

Register Sports Editor

Register/Jocelyn Sheets
Iola High senior Seth Browning hauls in his second touchdown pass of the night from 23-yards out. The score pushed the Mustangs into the lead Friday night and they held back host Labette County High’s Grizzlies to win 17-13 at Altamont.
Register/Jocelyn Sheets
On a muddy field late in the game, Iola High’s Seth Browning, Nick Mueller (30), Chris Heffern (10) and Kyler Thompson (52) bring down Labette County High running back David Brown (1). Iola stopped Labette County in the second half of Friday’s game to win 17-13 at Altamont.

ALTAMONT — “I was just in the right place at the right time.” “Charles made a nice lob to the end zone and I ran under it.” “It was all blocking, anybody could have run through those holes.”
Iola High seniors Seth Browning and Chris Heffern gave their teammates the credit after the Mustangs rallied from a 13-3 halftime deficit to win 17-13 Friday against host Labette County High’s Grizzlies.
Browning caught both touchdown passes from junior quarterback Charles Apt in the fourth quarter. Browning also helped seal the win with an interception with 1:41 left in the game.
Heffern stepped into the tailback shoes after starter Drew Walden and his replacement Ethan Fulton were sidelined with sprained ankles in the first half. Heffern carried the ball 18 times for 59 yards, most of it came in the second half.
That’s the half, the Mustangs controlled. It’s the half, the Mustangs worked through the adversity to find a way to win.
“We spent most of halftime just lining kids out that haven’t played in certain spots,” said Rick Horton, Mustang head coach.
“Defensively, we played pretty well in the first half then the kids came out and just turned in a great effort defensively in the second half.”
The win was the first in many years at Altamont for the Mustangs. The Mustangs now have a win in Southeast Kansas League play and broke a three-game losing skid.
Iola is 1-3 in the SEK and 2-4 overall. The Grizzlies dropped to 3-3 in both SEK and overall play.
Labette County, a team that had defeated Coffeyville and Chanute this season at home, seemed to be its way to a homecoming win. The Grizzlies went on top 7-0 with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
David Brown finished off a 67-yard drive with a six-yard run to the end zone. Labette County was aided by several penalties on Iola.
The Mustangs were whistled 12 times for 107 yards in penalties, nine of those came in the first half for 87 yards.
Iola answered with a drive at the end of the first quarter into Labette County territory. On the second play of the second quarter, senior Connor Frazell kicked a 36-yard field goal.
Kyle Heffern, a junior linebacker, recovered a Grizzly fumble with 8:28 left in the period. Two plays later, Frazell fumbled a pass reception.
Labette County took advantage of the miscue. The Grizziles went 42 yards on nine plays, helped with a couple Iola penalties again. Brown scored from eight yards out at the 4:29 mark. The two-point conversion pass fell incomplete, leaving it at 13-3.
Labette County threatened to score again in the final minute of the half. Three major penalties were walked off against Iola but the Mustang defense stiffened.
Trevor Nash, who had kicked an extra point, attempted a 26-yard field goal but missed.
Labette County had 119 yards rushing in the first half and ended up with 180. Iola had a minus-two yards on the ground in the first half and finished with 64 yards.
“We changed our defense in the second half back to our old one. And we wanted to be homecoming spoilers to make up for losing our own homecoming,” Chris Heffern said. “This win means a lot to us as a team. It gives us our confidence back going into district play.”
Heffern also helped lead the defensive charge for Iola with eight unassisted tackles and four assisted tackles. Senior linebacker Kyler Thompson racked up 10 solo stops, four assisted tackles and a tackle for loss.
“Seth Browning has worked so hard in practice and does great things in practice that we’ve been waiting for him to do that in a game,” Horton said. “He played very well at cornerback up against taller receivers.
“That first touchdown pass where he made the adjustment on the ball to make the catch then tight roped it down the sideline was confidence booster. He played tremendously on both sides of the ball the rest of the game.”
Horton was pleased with way his players “stepped up and responded to adversity when the two running backs went out with injuries. Our offensive line blocked very well in the second half. We had a lot of kids step up tonight that had to go in and play in spots they haven’t had many repetitions in.”
Offensively, Heffern moved to tailback and freshman Stephen McDonald was put in the fullback spot. Also playing fullback in the second half was senior Aaron Fulton.
“Stephen and Aaron did great jobs. Our receivers caught the ball tonight and ran the routes well. Charles threw the ball the best he has all season.”
The entire third quarter had the teams moving the football back and forth but neither had a scoring threat going.
Labette County was forced to punt just three plays into the fourth quarter. Iola got the football on its own 43 yard line with under 11 minutes remaining in the game.
Apt threw the football down field where Browning turned completely around to find the ball. He made the catch, the LCHS defender fell down and Browning raced right down the sideline for the touchdown. The play covered 57 yards.
Frazell kicked the extra point and it was 13-10 with 10:33 left to play.
The Mustang defense held the Grizzlies in check forcing another punt. Hunter Seibert’s punt only went 17 yards.
Behind the running of Heffern, the Mustangs embarked on a 10-play drive to the end zone. Apt completed a five-yard pass to Frazell to pick up a first down on a fourth-and-four play.
After a setback of a 10-yard holding penalty, the Mustangs came right back. Apt found Seth Walden over the middle. Walden caught the pass in stride and went for 35 yards.
An illegal shift penalty wiped out a touchdown pass to Walden but the Mustangs worked through it. On third down from the Grizzlies’ 23-yard line, Iola had the answer.
“It was a fake to the fullback up the middle. Stephen carried out the fake so well, we (the coaches) thought he went ahead a took it from Charles. But Charles did a good job holding the ball down and then made the pass to Seth in the end zone,” Horton said.
“It felt great to get the first touchdown. Charles made a nice lob to the corner and I ran under it,” Browning said.
A kick by Frazell and Iola led 17-13 with 4:28 left. Apt was 13 of 22 for 199 yards passing.
Frazell’s kickoff pinned Labette County at its own 11-yard line then the Grizzlies had a five-yard penalty.
The Grizzlies moved the ball but time was ticking off and they were making the mistakes. A personal foul after an 11-yard scamper by quarterback Keaton Turner put them back at their own 22.
Brown hauled in a 28-yard pass from Turner to put Labette County at the Iola 34-yard line. Turner connected with 6-4 tight end Brannon Green for an apparent 34-yard go-ahead touchdown.
But a chop-block penalty cost the Grizzlies the score and 15 yards. Three pass attempts to Green went wide and the fourth down pass attempt — well was caught by Browning.
Browning’s interception and return to the Labette County 40 came with 1:32 left in the game.
The Grizzlies got the ball back one last time with 28 seconds left. Turner had to scramble for eight yards then his final pass attempt was caught then lateralled a couple times before Iola made the tackle to end the game.
Nick Mueller made four unassisted tackles and had six assists. Ethan Fulton, before being injured, had five solo stops and two assisted tackles as did Shane Snavely. Frazell had four unassisted tackles and two assisted.
The Mustangs enter Class 4A district play next Friday at home against Fort Scott, which won its first game Friday 35-6 over Parsons.

Iola 0-3-0-14—17
Labette County 7-6-0-0—13
LC — Brown 6 yd run (Nash kick)
Iola — Frazell 36 yd field goal
LC — Brown 8 yd run (pass failed)
Iola — Browning 57 yd pass from Apt (Frazell kick)
Iola — Browning 23 yd pass from Apt (Frazell kick)

Individual Statistics

Rushing: Iola-Ch. Heffern 18-59, D. Walden 1-0, E. Fulton 5-4, Apt 5-1. LCHS-Brown 24-116, Turner 10-46, Hambleton 8-10, Seibert 8-10.
Passing: Iola-Apt 13-22-199-0. LCHS 6-23-80-1.
Receiving: Iola-Browning 3-99, S. Walden 2-53, Frazell 7-23, Ch. Heffern 1-33. LCHS-Green 3-32, Traxson 1-11, Brown 2-37.
Punting: Iola-Frazell 3-101 (34 avg.). LCHS-Seibert 5-140 (28 avg.)