HARLAN, Iowa — Despite continuing musical chairs at quarterback, Harlan reduced the importance of that position by controlling the line of the scrimmage Friday night.
Nick Foss carried 19 times for 200 yards and five touchdowns, and the Cyclones opened Class 3-A, District 7 play with a 42-7 victory over Creston/Orient-Macksburg.
“We controlled the offensive and defensive front pretty well,” Harlan coach Curt Bladt said.
Foss, at 5-foot-11 and 200 pounds, took it from there, running for touchdowns of 23, 11, 4, 49 and 2 yards.
“He’s a powerful kid,” Bladt said. “He’s our leading weightlifter.”
Last year’s starter at quarterback, Deren Schmitz, was injured the week of the opening game and hasn’t played this season. Preston Mulligan started the opener and Brett Sears started in Week 2 and again Friday, but Sears went down with what Bladt called a wrist injury late in the first quarter. Mulligan returned and threw for 88 yards for Harlan (2-1).
Creston/O-M (1-2) lost three fumbles, hurting its own cause. The Panthers managed 186 yards of total offense. Coach Brian Morrison said Harlan deserved all the credit.
“I think they’re a legit contender in the state in 3-A,” Morrison said.
It’s been a long week in Creston. The community was the subject of nationwide scrutiny after a photo of five Creston students, all football players, depicting Ku Klux Klan-like behavior was circulated on social media. They have been kicked off the team, Morrison said.
Morrison felt his team was in a decent frame of mind when it took the field. The Panthers just hurt themselves with mistakes.
“I though they were good, I really did,” he said of his club’s psyche. “We gave ourselves a chance in the red zone (two) times in the first half. Whether it be turnovers, whether it be getting sacked and not getting those yards back on third and long, those hurt us.”
Foss’ fourth score, of 49 yards, came with 11:24 left in the third quarter on a fake punt. His fifth, the 2-yarder, came at the 8:52 mark of the third and triggered a running clock the rest of the way. Foss’ final carry came with about three minutes left in the third.
Harlan finished with 422 yards of total offense. Bladt said the Cyclones had a businesslike attitude.
“We just said, ‘Guys, we’ve got to keep our focus and play. The other things that are swirling around, we’ve just got to let them swirl and do our job,’ and they did a good job of that.”
Creston/O-M (1-2).......0 0 0 7— 7
At Harlan (2-1)..........14 7 14 7—42
H: Nick Foss 23 run (Kyle Knudson kick)
H: Foss 11 run (Knudson kick)
H: Foss 4 run (Knudson kick)
H: Foss 49 run (Knudson kick)
H: Foss 2 run (Knudson kick)
H: Caleb Bieker 2 run (Knudson kick)
C: Cole Higgins 14 pass from Kylan Smallwood (Evan Jacobson kick)