Defense sparks Ballard win over Mason City: Bombers end regular season with 49-21 victory

Joe Randleman
Tri-County Times
Connor Finch
Connor Drew
Sam Petersen

GILBERT - Ballard capitalized on Mason City’s mistakes in a big way Friday, posting a 49-21 victory over the Mohawks in the final game of the Iowa high school football regular season.

The Bombers scored three defensive touchdowns en route to finishing second in Class 3A District with a 4-1 mark and improving to 6-1 overall. Ballard also ran for 337 yards in a game played on Gilbert’s home field due to derecho damage to Rich Strouse Field in Huxley.

“Really proud of how our team played tonight,” Ballard co-head coach Corey Vespestad said. “We had a good week of practice.  We are excited to have the opportunity to play again. It was a great night for our seniors as we celebrated senior night.”  

Ballard led 28-7 at the break and coasted the rest of the way.

Connor Finch returned two interceptions for touchdowns for Ballard in the win. He ran back a 60-yard interception in the second quarter and went 62 yards for a score early in the fourth.

Blake Stover scored the final touchdown of the game on a 16-yard fumble return. 

Jeremiah Wilkinson added 7.5 tackles and Colby Cavert 4.5 stops plus an interception for Ballard on defense. Gabe Christensen tallied one tackle and interception apiece, Blake Fleischmann four tackles, Nick Wacha 3.5 stops plus a sack and Cory Hennick two tackles and a sack.

Connor Drew was 10 of 14 passing for 107 yards and two touchdowns - both to Mason Murphy - and he also ran for 100 yards and a score for Ballard in the win. Sam Petersen picked up 165 yards and one touchdown rushing, Murphy finished with five catches for 65 yards, Christensen ran for 25 yards and Jayden Swain tacked on 22 yards rushing for the Bombers on offense.

For Mason City, Kale Hobart threw for 170 yards and a touchdown, Carter Thomas made four grabs for 80 yards and a score, Jaynlen Wynter ran for 68 yards and one touchdown and Cameron Pruisman returned a blocked field goal 85 yards for a score for the Mohawks.

Ballard will face Boone (0-7) in the opening round of the 3A playoffs this Friday.

“We need to continue to get better  this week as we head into the playoffs,” Vespestad said.

The game starts at 7 p.m. at Boone.

Ballard 49, Mason City 21

MC    0     7    7     7 - 21

B       6    22   8   13 - 49


First quarter

B - Sam Petersen 20 run (kick failed), 9:02.

Second quarter

B - Connor Drew 2 run (Mason Murphy run), 10:45.

B - Connor Finch 60 interception return (Obi Soash kick), 8:40.

B - Murphy 42 pass from Drew (Soash kick), 7:53.

MC - 85 blocked field goal return (Eric Lensing kick).

Third quarter

B - Murphy 6 pass from Drew (Drew run), 9:01.

MC - 38 pass (Lensing kick), 6:06.

Fourth quarter

B - Finch 62 interception return (Soash kick), 8:59.

MC - 46 run (Lensing kick), 6:59.

B - Blake Stover 16 fumble return (no attempt), 0:04.

Team statistics MC B

Rushes-yards 20-132 57-337

Passing 11-27-4 10-14-0

Passing yards 170 107

Total yards 302 444

Fumbles lost 1 1

Punts-average 5-40.0 3-41.0

Individual statistics

Rushing: MC - Jaylen Wynter 4-68, Ben Amundson 14-67, Kale Hobart 2-(-3). B - Sam Petersen 25-166, Connor Drew 16-100, Gabe Christensen 7-25, Jayden Swain 3-22, Mason Murphy 3-15, Wil Jennings 3-9.

Passing: MC - Hobart 11-27-4-170. B - Drew 10-14-0-107.

Receiving: MC - Carter Thomas 4-80, Jorge Rivera 5-65, Sebastian Brock 2-25. B - Murphy 5-65, Logan Harmeyer 1-16, Brenden Kaldenberg 1-9, Kyler Watson 1-8, Nolan Schonhorst 1-5, Petersen 1-4.

Tackles: MC - Branson Peters 9.5, Tavien Banks 6.5, Alex Kinney 6, Thomas 5, Taylor Worple 5, Connor Dalen 5. B - Jeremiah Wilkinson 7.5, Colby Calvert 4.5, Blake Fleischmann 4, Nick Wacha 3.5, Murphy 3.

Sacks: B - Wacha, Cory Hennick.

Fumble recoveries: MC - Cameron Pruisman. B - Stover.

Interceptions: B - Connor Finch 2, Calvert, Christensen.