Packwood, IA – The Cardinal Comet football team erased a lot of bad history on the opening night of the Iowa High School football playoffs. The Comets (5-3) defeated the Pekin Panthers (3-4) 38-29 at Tom Stone Field on this Friday night, breaking two long streaks in the process. First, the losing streak to the Pekin Panthers that extended all the way back to 1974. Second, the long playoff drought. The Comets used an efficient offense and timely defense in the second half to outlast the Panthers.
The first half was tightly contested as the Panthers held a 13-12 lead. A four-yard touchdown reception by Christian Bowman and a 63-yarder from Griffin Greiner, produced the scoring for the Comets. The second half belonged to quarterback Maddux Jones, as he led the Cardinal offense to touchdowns on three out of four possessions. The ground game was also a much bigger focus for the Comets in the final 24 minutes, as in the first half they only carried the ball four times, in contrast to their 10 carries in the second half.
The Cardinal defense was put to the test the entire night with the punishing ground attack of the Panther offense. A change in defense implemented by Coach Landon Miller for this match-up proved to be the difference. Switching to a more run-stout 5-2 front, the Comets never gave up the big play, forcing Pekin to grind out drives and earn every yard.
The turning point of the game occurred with 7:53 remaining in the 4th quarter. On a 1st and goal from the nine-yard line for the Pekin offense, looking to score the go ahead touchdown, the Panthers fumbled on an outstanding play by freshman Isaac Cox, who got into the Panther backfield and disrupted the handoff. The ball fell to the ground where Maddux Jones picked it up and raced 90 yards for a Comet touchdown. The defense further secured the victory with just over two minutes left, forcing a turnover on downs. Jones put the proverbial ‘icing on the cake’ with a run up the middle for a 21-yard touchdown to push the lead to 38-29.
Cardinal will continue their playoff journey next Friday night as they travel to take on undefeated, District 6 champ Sigourney-Keota (7-0). The Comets lost versus the Cobras on the final Friday night of the regular season, October 9, 68-8, in Eldon. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00 in Sigourney.
Maddux Jones 16-23 222 yards 2 TD
Maddux Jones 9 carries 71 yards 2 TD
Griffin Greiner 5 carries 14 yards 1 TD
Ian Liles 2 catches 9 yards
Blaine Bryant 3 catches 33 yards
Griffin Greiner 4 catches 91 yards 1 TD
Landon Becker 5 catch 78 yards
Christian Bowman 2 catches 11 yards 1 TD