Facing their toughest opponent yet, Pella Christian rode some key momentum shifts in the second and third quarters to notch a 35-14 win Friday night over Central Decatur in the Class 1A District 7 opener.
After the Cardinals claimed an 8-7 lead in the second quarter, the Eagles responded with a Caleb Morgan score two minutes later, then turned a Central Decatur interception into another score just before the intermission to take a 21-8 lead into the half. Despite the halftime advantage, Pella Christian assistant coach Darryl De Ruiter said his team was being out-matched physically in the first half.
“The main thing we needed to talk about – and talked about at halftime – was they hit us. They hit us hard, and I don’t know if we weren’t prepared for that – we certainly hadn’t seen that yet,” said De Ruiter. “We challenged the guys to go out and hit hard back and battle, and be physical up front. I think we responded well to that and did a good job.”
Central Decatur struck first in the second half on a punt return for a touchdown, but the Eagles again pulled the momentum back to their side by responding with a one-play, 40-yard touchdown reception by Mason Howerzyl to seize control of the game for good.
Pella Christian finished the night with 303 total yards of offense, split nearly evenly between the run and the pass. Caleb Morgan led the ground attack with 88 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown, while adding two catches for 32 yards and a receiving touchdown. Quarterback Coltin Collins was 9-of-17 passing for 155 yards and three touchdowns and one interception. Blake Riggen was his top target, with three receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown.
The win has the Pella Christian football team off to a 3-0 start to the season and at 1-0 in District 7 play, entering next week’s home showdown with Des Moines Christian.