It was not the start to the season the Pella football team was hoping for, as the Little Dutch struggled for much of the night in a 41-14 loss to Newton. Fans who filled the bleachers at Pella High School or listened to the game live on kniakrls.com were stunned quickly, as Pella’s first offensive play of the contest resulted in an interception and led to a Newton touchdown just three plays later.
Pella climbed back into the game early in the second quarter when Jace Ver Steeg blocked a Newton punt that was recovered and returned for a score by Chris Brogden, but a pair of Newton field goals in the first half gave the Cardinals a 13-7 advantage at the intermission. Newton seized control of the momentum – and ultimately the game – with another quick strike to start the third quarter on a 66-yard touchdown run by Nick Pritchard, taking just over 20 seconds off of the game clock.
Pella’s offense struggled for the remainder of the second half, turning it over twice more and allowing another big run by the Cardinals; though they did provide fans with some excitement, courtesy of an 82-yard touchdown run by Brogden. As well as Newton played, the Little Dutch did themselves no favors; as head coach Jay McKinstrey said there were simply too many mistakes.
“It wasn’t just the interceptions or fumbles or whatever they were tonight – those types of mistakes – but we made mistakes for running just a base football play,” said McKinstrey. “Those things are correctable, but you hope that after four weeks of practice you don’t make some of those mistakes, but we did. So we go from here, and we came making those corrections.”
Running back Austin Fuller paced the Pella offense, carrying the ball 16 times for 73 yards, but the Dutch only managed 260 yards of total offense – compared to 332 yards for Newton. Highlighting the Cardinals offensive exploits was Zach Roskilly. The speedy tailback carried the ball 24 times, amassing 197 yards and a touchdown. Despite the painfully lopsided opener, McKinstrey said his team will rebound, but acknowledged that there will be a learning curve involved.
“It’s just going to take some time. Like I’ve said before, be patient, and as we progress throughout the season, I think we’ll have a chance to be a really good football team,” said McKinstrey. “It’s just a matter of getting these kids to learn how to play the game at this level.”
The Pella football team will take their 0-1 record across Lake Red Rock to Knoxville next Friday, where they’ll face the Panthers in the second – and final – game before the District schedule starts.