Undefeated Algona ends Rams’ post-season hopes

The Greene County Rams’ defense has been a force this year, holding teams to an average of 13.3 points during the regular season and allowing their first opponents in post-season play, the Des Moines Christian Lions, only 21 points. The Rams have played with a continuous clock, too, having a lead of 35 points or more.

They met a much different level of competition Friday when they traveled to Algona to play the Class 2A District 2 champions, the 10-0 Algona Bulldogs. In that game, it was the Ram defense that was unable to thwart the Bulldogs’ rushing game, giving up 377 yards on the ground as five different Bulldogs put up a total of seven TDs. The clock ran continuously for the last 16 minutes of play as the Bulldogs held a 42-7 lead over the Rams. The final score was 48-15.

The host Bulldogs scored before the spectators warmed the bleachers, moving the ball 70 yards in three plays on their first possession. Elliot Berkland was the first Bulldog to score, hauling the ball 52 yards for the TD. Isaac Schonert kicked the point after touchdown and the Bulldogs led 7-0 with only 1:06 off the clock.

The Ram offense saw on their first possession what they were up against, losing 13 yards on their first play back to their own 15 yard line. The possession ended with a 45-yard Carter Morton punt. The Bulldogs made it into Ram territory easily on their next possession, but the Rams were able to hold them on downs and reclaim the ball on the Ram 35.

The Rams possession started well enough, with Colby Kafer picking up nine yards rushing and QB Brent Riley connecting with Carter Morton on an 11-yard pass play and with Nick Breon on a 7-yard pass play. With a penalty against the Bulldogs the Rams were at first and 10 on the Bulldog 33, but they couldn’t get closer to the end zone. Morton punted at fourth and 16 from the Bulldog 39, but the snap was high and the punt went only 24 yards.

The Bulldogs started their third possession of the gam on the Ram 37 and scored three plays later. That time it was Garrett Smith carrying the ball across the goal line. With the PAT the Bulldogs were up 14-0 with 3:15 to play in the first quarter.

The Rams again made it to the Bulldog 35 but couldn’t go further. Riley was sacked on fourth and 7 and the Bulldogs had the ball again. The first quarter ended with the Bulldogs at second down and 7 on the Ram 42 yard line. They scored on the first play of the second quarter with Monte Bawden rushing the needed 42 yards. After the PAT the score was 21-0.

The Ram offense was stymied on their next possession. They were at fourth and 13 on the Ram 29 when Morton’s punt was blocked and the home team had the ball again on the Ram 19 yard line. That time it took just one play to score, with Wyatt Wegener toting the ball. After the PAT the score was 28-0 with 10:05 left to play in the half.

The Rams relied on Kafer in their next drive and he didn’t disappoint. In five carries, including a 34-yarder, he took the ball from the Ram 30 to the Bulldog 24. A personal foul penalty against the Rams moved the ball from second and 7 to third and 20 on the Bulldog 47. A pass play to Breon earned the Rams two yards. At fourth and 18 they tried to pick up the down; Riley’s pass was incomplete and the Bulldogs had the ball again.

The Bulldogs were within 10 yards of scoring on that possession but a 34-yard run was negated by a holding penalty. Instead of being first and 10 on the Ram 10 the Bulldogs were second and 15 on their own 45. The Rams held them at the Bulldog 43.

The Rams got on the scoreboard with their next drive, covering 57 yards in six plays with Kafer rushing for 29 yards, Riley connecting with Jaxon Warner on a 9-yard pass play, and a penalty against the Bulldogs giving the Rams an unearned first down. The last 20 yards of the drive came from a pass to Breon in the end zone. Cael Fisher’s PAT was good and the Rams were on the board with 2:49 to play in the half.

The Bulldogs made it to the Ram 8 yard line in two plays on their next possession, but a call against them for a chop block moved the ball back to the Ram 22. QB Tyler Manske threw two incomplete passes and the Rams had the ball back on their own 25. The half ended with the home team ahead 28-7.

The Rams had the ball to start the second half. They were called for holding and were at third and 18 on their 27 yard line when Riley passed to Will Hansen to put his team at fourth and 1 on the 43. They went to Kafer to pick up the needed yard but the Bulldogs held. Starting at the Ram 43, it took the Bulldogs four plays to score, including getting the benefit of a call against the Rams for a face mask penalty. Wegeman scored his second TD of the game on a run from the 14 yard line. With the PAT the score was 35-7 with just more than nine minutes to play in the quarter.

The Rams went out on downs on their next possession and the Bulldogs had the ball back at the Rams’ 42 yard line. They used seven plays to score, with Wegeman taking the ball the final 10 yards. After the PAT the Bulldogs had the needed 35-point lead to put the clock on a continuous run. The third quarter ended with the score 42-7.

Both teams scored once in the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs opened the quarter with an 11-play, 60 yard drive capped by a seven yard run by Trevon Smith. The lined up for a 2-point conversion but took a knee. The score was 48-7 with 5:49 to play in the game.

As Algona reserves filtered onto the field the Rams were able to put together a 7-play, 72-yard drive to score. Kafer again covered most of the ground, the the drive ended with a 27-yard pass to Will Hansen in the end zone. The Rams made good on a 2-point conversion, with Carter Morton passing to Joe Patterson for the points. The score was 48-15. One minute, 45 seconds remained in the game.

The Bulldogs worked the clock and took a knee on three plays to end the game. They improved to 11-0 and earned a trip to the Class 2A semifinals at the UNIDome next Saturday.

The Rams finished the season at 9-2 under first-year head coach Caden Duncan. It was the first time in more than a decade the Rams made it past the first round of post-season play.

Unofficially, the Rams had 248 yards of offense for the game, with 131 yards through the air and 117 yards rushing. The Bulldogs had 391 total yards of offense, with all but 14 of them being rushing yards.

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