Two streaks came to an end on a long night for football Friday evening at Pella High.
The Little Dutch and Knoxville Panthers were slated to start play at 7:30 p.m. Shortly before kickoff lightning was spotted in the area and the game was delayed for nearly an hour.
In the end the Dutch prevailed in the Class 3A Marion County shootout by the final of 24-0 in a game that in many ways was much closer than the final score indicated.
Pella snapped a two-game losing streak with the win and the Panthers ended a four-game winning streak to open the year.
Knoxville handed the Dutch a gift by losing a fumble deep in their own territory at the one.
Kody Huisman jumped on the loose ball setting up the first score of the night midway through the opening quarter.
Ryan Mace dove into the end zone from a yard out and Silas Vanderhoff kicked the PAT for a 7-0 Pella advantage with 6:40 remaining in the opening quarter.
Two of the next four possessions ended with both defenses forcing the opposing team to turn the ball over on downs.
A punt by Mace put the Panthers deep at their own 5. A 14-yard run by Carter Bailey got the ball out of serious trouble.
A short KHS punt with a net of 22 yards saw the Dutch start at their own 47 with 5:12 left in the half.
A pass from Mace to Josh Warner gained 19 yards. A pass interference call against Knoxville put the Dutch at the KHS seven.
Credit to the Panther defense as they held and forced the Dutch into a 23-yard field goal that Vanderhoff booted through the uprights for a 10-0 advantage at halftime.
The Pella band put on a nice Homecoming performance at halftime.
A brilliant punt by Knoxville’s Wyatt Darnell pinned the Dutch up at their own 15.
A couple of big runs by Nolan Clayberg chewing up 13 and 12 yards each put the Dutch in business.
Add in a 49-yard touchdown pass to Warner, who got behind the Panther defense and the score became 17-0 with 3:11 left in the third. The 85-yard drive was a back-breaker for the Panthers, who were doing a nice job of hanging around.
Another masterful punt by Mace put the Knoxville Panthers at their own 2 with 10:43 left.
A 12-yard KHS punt put the Dutch at the Panther 17.
On third and goal from the Panther 8, Mace connected with River Baker on an 8-yard touchdown pass with 6:33 left to make the final 24-0.
Knoxville drove from their own 14 to the Dutch 30 before losing a fumble with Huisman making his second recovery of the night for the Dutch.
Pella led in total yards 300 to 165. The Dutch passed for 156 and ran for 144.
Knoxville passed for 66 yards and ran for 69.
Pella was hampered with 10 penalties being whistled for 95 yards. Knoxville had four penalties for 40 yards.
Mace was 10-of-22 passing for 156 yards and two scores. He was picked off once by Keegan Cox.
Nolan Clayberg was the workhorse as he ran for 129 yards on 23 attempts.
Warner led in receptions with five for 116 yards and a score.
Kieren Nichols was 4-of-6 passing for Knoxville for 66 yards.
Ben Olson caught one pass for 39 yards to lead the way.
On the ground, Carter Bailey ran for 49 yards, Nichols 26 and Brady Pearson 16 yards for the Panthers.
Leading tacklers for Knoxville were Ben Olson with 8.5, Wyatt Darnell six, Brady Pearson 5.5 and Ian Crossett with 4.5 and Cooper Worth 4 stops.
Pella tackle leaders were Nick DeJong with six. Huisman 5.5, Logan Shetterly and Braydon Peterson each with 4.5 and Nolan Clayberg with 3.
Mace averaged 41 yards on five punts for Pella.
Panther Coach Eric Kellar commented, “We played well but not well enough to beat a quality team like Pella. The 1 yard TD and TD after the short punt were big for them. We played good defense and had moments when we did things well on offense. We have to get better in all areas to beat the good teams in our district. Our kids are bummed they lost but know that they can hang with the big dogs this year.”
The Panthers will hit the road Friday to face the Grinnell Tigers in district play starting at 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers bring a 3-2 record into the game after losing to Oskaloosa Friday on the road 35-16.
Grinnell beat the Panthers a year ago 19-7 in Ken Locke Stadium.