By Perry Bell
Pella’s defense bent but didn’t break very often last Friday night as the Dutch knocked off the Knoxville Panthers 14-13 in Class 3A District 7 football play.
The Dutch used a defense that produced four turnovers and special teams play to trip up the Panthers, who dominated the offensive statistics,
Knoxville accumulated 369 yards of offense, 322 of that in the air, compared to 135 yards of offense for the Dutch, 114 on the ground.
The Panthers started fast on the Pella turf with an 86-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gerrit Davis to Ryan Douglas on the first play from scrimmage.
Tanner Dunkin added the PAT kick for a 7-0 Panther lead 23 seconds into the game.
The Dutch tied the game 7-7 on a 5-yard touchdown run by Nathan Henry midway through the opening quarter at the 6:22 mark.
The PAT kick by Anthony Bentzinger was good.
A fumble recovery by Knoxville’s Justin Karns on Pella’s first possession of the second half gave the Panthers the ball deep in Pella territory.
A 24-yard KHS field goal attempt by Dunkin was off target, leaving the score tied at 7-7.
A blocked punt by Pella’s Nathan Clayberg put the ball at the Panther 18.
Henry capped the short Pella drive with a 4-yard run to pay dirt with 7:07 left in the third quarter for a 14-7 advantage.
Knoxville managed to move the football up and down the field, but they were stopped by mistakes or turnovers.
Jacob Vollmar picked off a KHS pass and returned it 30 yards to set up the Dutch.
Pella tried a 36-yard field goal by Seth Johnson that missed wide left.
Chris Brogden picked off a Panther pass at the Dutch 12 late in the third quarter to stifle yet another Panther drive.
In the fourth quarter the Panthers drove to the 10 where they turned the ball over on downs.
After the Panther defense stopped the Dutch. Knoxville was in business again.
A 46-yard pass to Ryan Douglas put the Panthers at the Pella one.
On third down from the one, Colton Spaur ran in to the end zone to cut the deficit to 14-13 with 2:08 left.
The all important PAT kick to tie the game was blocked by Pella’s Noah Clayberg.
Pella had three pass interceptions, one each from Brogden, Christian Stafford and Vollmar.
The Panthers had two fumble recoveries, one ach by Lukas Burke and Justin Karns.
Matt Nieuwsma had a fumble recovery for Pella.
Gerritt Davis was 19-of-32 passing for 299 yards for Knoxville. His favorite target was Douglas, who caught four for 139 yards.
Dunkin also caught four passes for Knoxville for 61 yards while Derek Glover snagged three receptions for 38 yards and Ross Shelford had five for 39 yards.
Nathan Henry was Pella’s offensive leader with 57 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.
Lukas Steenhoek had 50 yards rushing on 11 attempts for the Dutch.
Tackle leaders for each team consisted of Christian Stafford with eight, Brandon Konfrst and Quinton Murphy each with seven. Nathan Clayberg was in on six stops as was Landon Van Dyke.
Knoxville defensive leaders were Aaron Crossett with 18 tackles, Jake Stearns six, Lukas Burke and Douglas each had five as did Kyle Kaestner.
“Our special teams played well,” replied Pella Coach Jay McKinstrey. “Our defense came up with four turnovers. We had just one turnover in the previous three games.”
“Give Knoxville credit, they have a very good team,” McKinstrey said.