After being outplayed much of the first half and struggling to stop the run, Pella Christian fought back late and scored the winning touchdown on a 74 yard catch and run by Will Vandevoort with just over four minutes to play and held on to beat Roland Story 18-12 to advance to the second round of the Class 2A playoffs.
The Eagles got the win despite turning the ball over three times in the red zone, twice on downs and once on an interception. Roland Story also had almost twice the time of possession for the game.
After a scoreless first quarter, Roland Story struck on a 14 play 71 yard drive, but failed on the two point conversion to take a 6-0 lead with 10:22 remaining in the first half. Pella Christian answered back on a quick four play 69 yard drive that took just over a minute scoring on a 1 yard stretch across the goal line by quarterback Kyle Nikkel, the P.A.T. failed and the score was tied at 6-6. Roland Story drove down the field again with a lengthy 13 play 46 yard drive and gained a 12-6 halftime lead.
After punting on their opening possession of the second half, and turning the ball over on downs their next possession inside the red zone, the Eagles defense forced a fumble recovered by Colin Debruin late in the third quarter which led to the game tying score thirty seconds into the fourth quarter on a 15 yard run by Sam Tvedt and that’s the way it stayed until the highlight reel catch and run by Vandevoort which finished an impressive three play 86 yard drive by the Eagles. Assistant coach Darrell DeRuiter said when it counted most they produced on both sides of the ball, crediting the defense for shutting out Roland Story in the second half and the offense for refusing to lose.
Pella Christian racked up 346 yards total offense with a good balance of pass and run totaling 190 on the ground and 156 through the air. The Eagles leading rusher Brett Nieuwsma had a tough night with just 43 yards on 18 carries, but Sam Tvedt more than made up for it with 129 yards on just eight carries with a touchdown. On a windy night that didn’t favor the passing game, Kyle Nikkel completed nine of 17 passes for 156 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Vandevoort hauled in three passes for 113 yards and the game winning score.
The Eagles improved to 9-1 overall on the season and will host North Polk, who defeated PCM 25-6, in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs Monday night. You can hear the game with Eric Gotschall and Nate Van Wyk live on 92.1 FM KRLS.