PLEASANT HILL, Ia.
There was a brief glimmer of hope Friday night for Roosevelt when the football bounced around on the turf deep in Southeast Polk’s end on the opening kickoff.
Then Tate Christensen picked up his own fumble, found a wall of blockers and ran 84 yards for a touchdown.
Even when the execution wasn’t perfect for the Rams, the results were flawless Friday night in a 49-0 rout of the Roughriders.
Southeast Polk scored three touchdowns before Roosevelt broke into plus yardage figures, averaged more than 10 yards per play and five different players ran for touchdowns as the Rams (5-3, 3-1) rolled to their fifth win in the last six games.
There was certainly no need for trickery – Southeast Polk dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football – but the Rams started with some pizzazz when Caleb Pavon handed the opening kick return to Christensen on a reverse.
“We worked on it all week and that was the plan – to have the whole side clear for me,” Christensen said. “It worked out.”
It nearly backfired when Christensen fumbled the exchange.
“Reverses, when you’ve never run it before, they always open up like that,” Southeast Polk coach Denny Muller said. “Actually, the fumble probably helped. Something like that happens and the kick personnel get down there so fast that and then they run right by it.”
The theme continued throughout the night with Roosevelt (3-5, 0-4) defenders chasing Ram runners on the path to the end zone. Christensen, Pavon, Cam Lawler, Levi Ballard, Scott Ault ran for touchdowns as Southeast Polk built a 42-0 halftime lead and kept the clock running continuously in the second half.
The Rams held the Roughriders to minus 10 yards on their first four possessions and didn’t surrender a first down until the 1:19 mark of the first quarter when Roosevelt quarterback Mikal Settle connected with receiver Daniel Luckett on a 16-yard gain.
By then, a season-long Southeast Polk trend continued to manifest itself.
When the Rams control the line of scrimmage and the rushing statistics, they’ve been impossible to beat.
Southeast Polk, which lost three starting offensive linemen and all four defensive linemen off last year’s state semifinal squad, entered play Friday averaging 258.5 yards rushing in its five wins and only 105.3 in its three defeats.
“As long as we play well (as an offensive line), we win games,” Southeast Polk offensive tackle Jake Marnin said. “When we don’t work as a team it falls apart. We’ve got to work as a unit.”
The Rams outmuscled Roosevelt, outgaining the Roughriders 239-75 on the ground.
“It’s like our coach says: The team depends on us,” Southeast Polk offensive guard Carter Ross said. “If we’re having a good night, the team’s having a good night.”
Southeast Polk 49, Roosevelt 0
Roosevelt 0 0 0 0 – 0
Southeast Polk 28 14 7 0 – 49
SEP – Christensen 84 kickoff return (Spencer kick)
SEP – Lawler 2 run (Spencer kick)
SEP – Pavon 22 run (Spencer kick)
SEP – Ballard 1 run (Spencer kick)
SEP – Ault 1 run (Spencer kick)
SEP – Christensen 57 run (Spencer kick)
SEP – Ault 12 run (Spencer kick)
Rushing– Roosevelt: Hall 20-63, McGregor 12-8, Settle 6-3, Jackson 4-7; Southeast Polk: Ault 8-77, Pavon 4-53, Christensen 3-70, Philpot 3-22, Lawler 2-5, Hyler 1-7.
Passing– Roosevelt: Settle 7-14-0-65; Southeast Polk: Arnold 4-5-0-75.
Receiving– Roosevelt: Hall 3-27, Luckett 3-34. Southeast Polk: Hyler 4-80.