NORMANGEE- The Iola winning streak continues as they outlast the Normangee Panthers in a 32-29 win, Friday in the home-opener.
At the start of the first quarter, Normangee (0-2) caught the Bulldogs off-guard returning an interception for the first touchdown of the game. The Bulldog offense responded with three consecutive scores, beginning in the first quarter with a 22-yard touchdown catch by Colton Bouillon from Blake Driver. The conversion attempt failed, and Normangee retained a one-point lead, 7-6.
The Bulldog offense unleashed in the second quarter giving the Dogs a 13-point lead with a 46-yard touchdown run by Driver and an 82-yard touchdown completion from Driver to Adam Crenshaw. Driver ran the ball in for the conversion on the first score of the quarter, but the second conversion failed. Driver finished the game with 198 yards and two touchdowns on 9 of 17 passing. He also rushed for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries. “All of our guys gave 100% on every play and that’s what really won the game for us tonight,” said Driver.
Coming into the second half, Normangee narrowed the gap scoring 16 points on a pair of touchdowns, a 16-yard run and 45-yard pass. Both conversions were successful.
Iola squeezed in a score between the Panther touchdowns in the third on a two-yard run.
The Bulldogs (2-0) began the fourth quarter ahead 26-23. Normangee regained the lead, 29-26 on a 30-yard run by Luke Yellott.
Iola answered with a hand off from Driver to Bouillon good for six points. Norman-gee held the ball in the final moments in the game, but Io-la’s defense was able to keep the upper hand. Senior linebacker, Kurtis Landry, states, “We had a lot of young guys step up on the D-line and get a lot of pressure in the quarterback’s face. Overall the defense played strong and held them in the backfield.” With Normangee on the 35-yard line, safety, Zachary Hollingsworth secured the victory intercepting the ball with 13 seconds remaining on the clock.
“Overall, I’m proud,” explained Iola head coach Kerry Bamburg. “They found a way to win. The second half wasn’t as good as the first half, but they found a way to pull out a win.”
Normangee hosts Love-lady Friday at 7:30 p.m. Io-la squares off in Anderson against the Owls at 7:30 p.m.
Normangee’s comeback in the third quarter was a good wake-up call for the Iola Bulldogs. Bamburg reflected on the third quarter, when asked about preparations for the game next week. “We got to finish. We struggled a little bit in the first part of the second half, mainly the third quarter, but they have to finish.”