By the end of the first quarter, Big Foot had turned the ball over twice in Clinton territory.
It was an ugly start for a Big Foot team that hasn’t faced much adversity this season, but the Chiefs recovered. They beat the Clinton Cougars 42-12.
Chiefs’ quarterback Brett Morris threw an interception at the Clinton 30 yard line with 9:26 left in the first. It was second and one, and the Chiefs were closing in on what could have been their first score of the night. Instead, a Clinton defender returned Morris’ toss 66 yards to the Big Foot 4-yard line. Brandon Hausner streaked down-field and saved a touchdown with a tackle.
“It would’ve been easy to hang our heads and say, ‘oh you know, we give up,’“ Chiefs head coach Rodney Wedig said. “But luckily Brandon Hausner hustled. He never gave up on the play and brought it down at the 4-yard line, which at the time seems like ‘ah, well they’re probably going to score anyhow’, but to hold them there and keep it zero-zero. That was a big play.”
The Chiefs defense was ready.
On first and 10, a Clinton run was stopped for a 2-yard loss. On second and 12, Big Foot tackled Clinton quarterback Derrick Severson for a 1-yard loss. On third and 13, Gus Wedig sacked Severson at the 10-yard line – loss of 6.
On fourth and long, a rattled Severson’s pass was incomplete.
“Defensively we really did a good job all night,” Wedig said. “Clinton’s an option team, so defensively we had no problem there. We did a good job making our assignments, it’s one of those tough things – when you’re teaching a defense to be aggressive and then you’re playing assignment football.”
Option offenses are designed to give quarterbacks the ability to run, pass or handoff the ball on a given play in order to best exploit defensive weaknesses.
The strength of the option lies in its adaptability and difficulty to predict — even the quarterback doesn’t know for certain where the ball will go when he walks up to the line of scrimmage. To combat option offenses, many coaches will commit to disciplined, assignment-based defensive schemes.
Though normally aggression is a good thing, defenses that respond too quickly are vulnerable to option plays. If the quarterback sees the defense is prepared to face a hand off, he can pass the ball. If all his receivers are covered, he can keep the ball and run himself.
It is a difficult adjustment to make for an aggressive defense, but Wedig was very pleased with how well his team played.
“I think we set the tone there defensively,” he said. “But offensively we were a little sloppy. We have some things we’ve got to clean up.”
Big Foot took over the ball at their own 10 yard line and drove 69 yards down field into Clinton territory. On first and 10 from the Clinton 27, Tim Long took the hand off and ran six yards ahead. He fumbled at the 21. The Cougars recovered.
And again the Chiefs’ defense stepped up..
Clinton had another series of negative-yardage plays and punted after three.
The Chiefs have not played in a close game since they defeated Delavan-Darien 35-30 on Aug. 30.
“It’s not a bad thing,” Wedig said of the first quarter. “Obviously, I’m not happy with the mistakes we made and the mental miscues, but at the same time, it’s good for these guys to have a little adversity early and see how they respond.”
The Chiefs scored 21 points in the second quarter, 14 points in the third and 7 in the fourth.
Clinton’s first touchdown did not come until midway through the third quarter, and by then the Chiefs had already put up 28 points.
Wedig credited his offensive line.
“We take a lot of pride in our big guys, and we let them do what they do well,” he said. “I think our offensive line really took over in that game, I mean we ended up with over 400 yards rushing.”
Overall Wedig is grateful his team got the win, while at the same time getting a taste of tight late-season competition.
“As the season goes on the scheduling gets tougher,” he said. “And we’ve got some tough games coming up here. So we’ve got to be able to bounce back and regroup after a bad play or a bad penalty.
Big Foot will play Whitewater at home on Friday. Whitewater (4-2) is 2-2 in Rock Valley – North Conference play. The game starts at 7 p.m.