PREP FOOTBALL: Orabs win in overtimeSHELDON, Iowa — Senior quarterback Chris Balster scored on a hard 10-yard touchdown run and then lobbed a successful pass to Tom Brown for the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime Wednesday night, lifting the Sheldon Orabs to an exciting 15-14 victory over the Forest City Indians in the opening round of the Iowa Class 2A high school state football playoffs at Orab Field.
By: Les Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
SHELDON, Iowa — Senior quarterback Chris Balster scored on a hard 10-yard touchdown run and then lobbed a successful pass to Tom Brown for the game-winning two-point conversion in overtime Wednesday night, lifting the Sheldon Orabs to an exciting 15-14 victory over the Forest City Indians in the opening round of the Iowa Class 2A high school state football playoffs at Orab Field.
Sheldon is now 8-2 and advances to the second round where it will tangle with the highly-regarded Spirit Lake Indians (9-1) on the sparkling artificial turf field in Spirit Lake Monday night.
“That was a great finish to a tremendous football game,” summed up Sheldon head coach Matt Meendering. “It was a hard-hitting, low-scoring game that went right down to the wire, and we made some big, big plays at crucial times. That sure was a lot of fun, and we’re happy with the final outcome.”
Forest City, which ends its season with a fine record of 7-3, had the ball first in overtime and scored to take its second seven-point lead of the game (14-7). The Indians also led 7-0 in the second quarter before Sheldon tied things in the third quarter.
A scoreless fourth period — highlighted by back-and-forth defensive and special teams prowess in an intriguing battle for field position — ensued to send the action into an extra frame with the scoreboard reading 7-7.
Starting with the ball at the Orabs’ 10-yard line in overtime, the Indians scored on their third play when Tate Thompson fired a 10-yard touchdown strike to Jonathon Mathiasen. The PAT kick was good, giving Forest City a 14-7 advantage.
Sheldon quickly answered on its follow-up possession, as Balster — who rushed for 116 yards on 19 carries and also completed 5-of-12 passes for 67 yards — kept the ball on an option to the right and barreled into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown burst on the Orabs’ very first play to make it 14-13.
Sheldon (300 yards of total offense) then used a timeout and made the decision to attempt a two-point conversion for the win, rather than kick the extra point and force a second overtime session.
The move worked, as Balster rolled to his left and tossed a high pass to the back corner of the end zone. Brown, who was very well-covered on the play, outjumped his defender and came down with the ball secure and both of his feet inbounds — giving the Orabs a 15-14 victory and setting off a celebration for the orange-and-black faithful.
“It was a tough decision to go for the win in that situation, but it ended up working out for us,” Meendering said. “Our offensive line gave Chris the time he needed to make the throw, and Tom just made an absolutely terrific catch with a defender draped all over him.”
Forest City struck first when Thompson launched a 37-yard touchdown pass to Zach Bengtson (PAT good) at the 8:46 mark of the second quarter for a 7-0 lead.
The Indians maintained that cushion heading into halftime, coming up with a key defensive stop late — halting a 58-yard Orabs’ drive at the 15-yard line.
Sheldon, though, manufactured an impressive scoring march to begin the third quarter. Beginning with the ball at their own 15-yard line and 11:55 showing on the clock, the Orabs chewed up over seven minutes and capped a 17-play, 85-yard drive with 4:40 remaining.
Balster completed a 21-yard pass to Hunter McDonald and later connected with Matt Dykstra on a 16-yard aerial to help sustain the time-consuming possession.
Balster and McDonald (18 carries for 102 yards) did the bulk of the remaining work on the ground, earning some tough yards rushing within Sheldon’s option-based offensive attack. A five-yard touchdown run on a keeper to the left by Balster (Trevor Mayer PAT kick good) tied the game at seven apiece.
Neither team scored again in regulation, setting up the thrilling action in overtime.
Dykstra (five tackles, fumble recovery), Clayton Scheibler (seven tackles, forced fumble) and Darin Greenfield (five tackles) led Sheldon’s defense, which allowed Forest City to gain 276 total yards of offense.
Forest City 0 7 0 0 7 — 14
Sheldon 0 0 7 0 8 — 15