Rams advance in post season play with win over Des Moines Christian

The Greene County Rams advanced to the quarter finals in the Class 2A state tournament with a 35-21 win over the Des Moines Christian Lions in Urbandale Friday evening.

The Lions, like the Rams, were 8-1 going into the game. Both were ranked in polls, with the Rams 7th and the Lions 9th. The Lions led Class 2A in average points scored per game at 40.1. They scored 50 or more points in five of their eight regular season games. Against the Rams, they scored twice in the first quarter, but they didn’t get across the goal line again until two seconds remained in the game.

Ram senior Carter Morton has made plays worthy of highlight reels all season long. Friday’s game was no different, as he scored four of the Rams’ five touchdowns. His first was the finish of a 96-yard kick-off return.

The Lions won the coin toss and chose to play offense first. They opened the game with a 16-yard pass play followed by an 8-yard rushing play, and the Rams saw what they were up against. In eight plays the Lions had moved the ball from their own 31 yard line down to the Rams’ 24 yard line. QB Jackson Waring passed to Owen Quinlan in the endzone on the next play. After a successful PAT kick, the Lions were up 7-0 with four minutes off the clock.
Their lead lasted 16 seconds. Morton received the kick-off at the Rams’ 4 yard line, faked a hand-off at the 10-yard line to draw the Lions off him, and then showed his state track-qualifier speed to race down the sideline to score. Cael Fisher’s PAT kick was good and the score was tied 7-7.

The Lions and the Rams both ended their next possessions with punts. The Lions started their third possession after their defense held the Rams on downs at the Lion 40 yard line. The Lions got their first 20 yards via a pair of penalties against the Rams. They scored on their fifth play on a 3-yard Seth Juhl rushing play. With the PAT, the Lions were up 14-7 with 1:24 to play in the first quarter.

The Rams’ punted from the Lions’ 45 to end their next possession. Carter Morton’s punt went 25 yards and the Lions started on their 20 yard line. Waring threw two incomplete passes, then ran the ball eight yards on third and 10 to put his team fourth and 1 on their 39 yard line. They gambled on making two more yards but the Ram defense held and the Rams had the ball back on the Lions’ 40 yard line. Ram QB Brent Riley threw an incomplete pass and running back Kolby Kafer rushed for nine yards on two carries. At fourth and 1 on the Lions’ 31 Riley pitched the ball to Morton on a wildcat play and Morton again used the sideline and scored. With the PAT the score was tied at 14 with 7:46 to play in the half.

The Rams scored once more in the half, with an 11-play, 80-yard drive that began with 35 yards through the air on three passes, followed by Kafer toughing out yards on the ground. The Rams were at first and 10 on the Lions’ 13 yard line when penalties against the Rams for illegal procedure and holding moved them back to first and 27 on the Lions’ 30 yard line. Morton scored his third TD of the game when Riley connected with him in the end zone. Fisher’s PAT went wide, putting the score at 20-14 with 1:24 to play in the first half.

The Lions ended the half attempting a 30-yard field goal. Tommy Wisenburger’s kick went wide and the half ended with the Rams up 20-14.

The teams battled for field position most of the third quarter. The Rams scored with one minute to play on a 10-play drive. The Rams had claimed possession on their own 41 yard line, but a personal foul penalty against the Lions for roughing the passer on the first play from scrimmage moved the ball to the Lions’ 44. Except for a short pass to Morton early in the drive, Kafer ground out the yardage in short carries. Once again, though, it was Morton who took the ball the last three yards across the goal line. The Rams made a 2-point conversion with Morton as the ball carrier, and the score was 28-14.

The Lions didn’t make it past the 50-yard line until one minute-plus remained in the game. They had the ball to start the quarter, but on the second play Nick Breon recovered a Waring fumble on the Lions’ 44 yard line. (That was the only turnover of the game.) The Rams scored seven plays later, with Riley rushing one yard, Kafer rushing twice for 13 yards, and pass play to Morton. Riley’s next pass was incomplete to the end zone, putting the Rams at fourth and 7 on the Lions’ 27 yard line. Riley threw another pass and that time connected with Breon in the end zone for the TD. With the PAT the score was 35-14 with 8:46 to play in the game.

The kick-off after the TD started the Lions at their 20 yard line. They made it to their 31 yard line before punting with 6 minutes left in the game. The Rams relied on Kafer in their next drive, keeping the ball on the ground to use time on the clock. With 1:36 to play in the game Morton punted at fourth and 15 from the Ram 48. The Rams were penalized for pass interference twice, helping the Lions make their way to the Ram 2 yard line. Waring threw to Elek Richmond in the end zone for a touchdown with 2.2 seconds left in the game. The PAT was good, making the final score 35-21.

Riley completed 15 of 20 passes (75 percent) for 177 yards. He rushed for -4 yards. Kafer rushed for 39 yards. Morton rushed for 39 yards and had 125 yards receiving. Breon rushed for 14 yards and had 33 yards receiving.

Senior Will Hansen led in tackles with five solo tackles and six assists. Seniors Cole Betts and Tyler Miller, and sophomore Bradyn Smith were credited with solo tackles for a loss of yardage.

Waring completed 16 of 34 passes (47.1 percent) for 187 yards. Waring also had 74 yards rushing. Cade Thiner rushed for 30 yards and Juhl rushed for 10, totaling 301 yards of offense.

The Rams will travel to Algona next Friday to play the 10-0 Algona Bulldogs. The Bulldogs have scored an average of 41.5 points a game and allowed an average of 14.8 points. They shut out only one team, but held four opponents to one TD each.

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