No. 5 Postville tops No. 2 Redhawks in battle of unbeatens
By Travis Hines
TRAER - North Tama was able to withstand the first wave Postville sent its way.
Tyler Nelson goes in for the tackle on Friday, Oct. 1.
Photo by Amy Jantzen
It was the second that caused them to capsize.
The Class A No. 5 Pirates were able to overcome a halftime deficit by overwhelming No. 2 North Tama early in the third quarter and holding on for a 31-20 upset to take control of the District 4 football standings.
Postville (6-0, 4-0) saw an early lead turn into a 20-7 deficit at the break, but scored twice in the second half's first 4 minutes to snap a 27-game winning streak at Dennis Athletic Field for North Tama (5-1, 3-1) on Homecoming.
The last team to beat the Redhawks at home was these very same Pirates in a 2006 playoff contest.
"Right away we had some big plays," said Postville head coach Mike Minikwu of the second-half start. "When you're playing a good team like North Tama, it comes down to good field position. We were able to do that."
Postville took its opening possession of the second half 65 yards in just 1:40 to pull within six, 20-14.
Dalton Hulme, filling in for an injured Jacob Wrage, threw an interception on the Redhawks' next play from scrimmage and four plays later Postville took the lead on a Cody Jarmes six-yard score.
North Tama managed just 79 yards of total offense and had three turnovers in the second half that saw Class A's second-ranked offense go scoreless.
"We had way too many penalties, way too many mistakes," said Redhawks head coach Brent Thoren. "We had opportunities and just didn't get it done.
"That was the bottom line. We just did not make the plays when we needed to."
North Tama entered the night as the only team in Iowa to not have surrendered a single point on the season, but put its defense in untenable positions time and again.
Postville had touchdown drives that measured 5, 20 and 4 yards.
"We stuck our defense in really bad spots," said Thoren of the unit that didn't allow Postville to complete a pass on the night, but was hit for 209 yards on the ground.
Things looked ominous early for the Redhawks after they botched a punt deep in their own territory to set up Postville at the 5-yard line.
Dallas Imoehl, who finished with a team-best 73 yards, punched it in two plays later to put Postville up 7-0.
North Tama drove deep into Pirates territory early in the second quarter only to see Hulme toss the first of his four interceptions on the night.
The tide turned, however, when Clayton Blocker picked off Steffans and returned it 10 yards to the end zone. Postville fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Hulme hit Brent Billerbeck, who had five catches for 69 yards, on a fade route in the end zone to put North Tama ahead.
Hulme added a five-yard TD run right before the half to give North Tama its 13-point advantage at intermission.
Then, Postville got its two quick-hitters and added another score seconds after Riley Brockway returned an interception down to the 4-yard line before Abdeel Hernandez sealed the game with a 35-yard field goal with just over a minute to play.
Hulme finished the night 11-for-28 with 125 yards on just two days' worth of practice after Wrage went down with a broken ankle that threatens his junior season.
The junior Hulme was asked to do a lot.
He carried 27 times for 139 yards on the night with Nick Whannel being the only other Redhawk to tote the ball.
Whannel had three rushes for 19 yards.
"It's just going to be a learning process for him a little bit," said Thoren, who also faulted some of his own playcalling for the offense's struggles.
"Dalton's a really good quarterback. He just got put in a tough spot right now, and it's going to be learning by fire. That's just how it's going to be."
"That's football sometimes," he added. "You've got to deal with injuries sometimes and you've got to move on. That's just the reality of it."
The loss snapped winning streaks of 36 games in the regular season, 22 in district play and 19 overall for North Tama, which had outscored its opponents 248-0 on the year coming into the night. Those five teams, though, had a combined record of 2-25 through Week 5.
It was a setback that left many Redhawks players in tears, but picking up and moving on will be paramount for a team that will likely meet Postville again in the playoffs.
"It should hurt. It should really hurt these guys," said Thoren, whose team travels to Waterloo's Sloan Wallace Stadium next week to face Don Bosco. "We put in a tremendous amount of time into this and the kids put a tremendous amount of time in.
"Obviously, it hurts. But it's just another opportunity to pick ourselves back up and see what kind of leaders we have. It's really easy to be a leader when you're ahead 45-0. It's the guys that come up when the chips are down, that's when you're really going to find out what you've got.
"We've got very resilient people on our team."