TIFFIN– The bell was rung, finally.
Last season, the brass bell from the USS-King (DD-242) was mounted just outside of the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Clippers’ football stadium. It was to be rung following a gridiron victory.
However, in a winless 2011 campaign, it stood as a silent sentinel.
Friday night though, it rang loud and clear, and was likely heard in Coralville and Oxford as the Clippers enthusiastically celebrated their 35-7 season opening win over the Mustangs of Independence.
The win was extra special as it not only ended the losing streak, but also honored a teammate and a friend of the program. Denny Strasser, father to senior Nick Strasser, died on Jan. 26 of this year and Friday’s game was dedicated to him. Nick was presented with the game ball shortly after the win, and the team and coaches were going to sign it the next day at practice.
“It was a team win,” coach Rodney Walls said of the effort, which started with Clipper defense shutting down the Mustangs’ first drive, and was followed by a CCA touchdown as quarterback Konrad Moore kept the ball and scampered into the end zone on CCA’s first drive. Also in the first quarter, Moore found Zach Anderson in the end zone, shot him a pass, and the Clippers were up 14-0.
If the Mustangs were stunned, they quickly shook it off and came galloping back late in the period. A Moore pass was intercepted and touched off a drive ending in an Indee touchdown. It would turn out to be the highlight of the night for the visitors as they were denied any further scoring opportunities.
In the second quarter, Moore scored on another keeper to make it 21-7 going into the halftime break. Tanner Bandy caught a pair of Moore passes in the second quarter for two more Clipper touchdowns. The first came in the third quarter and was just inches from being out-of-bounds. The second was in the fourth, again deep in the end zone.
Niles VanElsas was perfect in PAT kicks, going 5-5.
Moore completed 17-27 passes for 206 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. Jonathan Nzombo led in rushing with 96 yards followed by Moore (80) and Bandy (42). Josh Martinac had 16 yards, Jared Ganschow made seven, Anderson had five and Bryan Marmolejo gained three yards for the Clippers.
Bandy was the preferred receiver with 129 yards, two touchdowns and nine receptions. Anderson had four for 27 yards and one touchdown while Andrew Beckler, Kam Kahler, AJ Liddell and Nzombo all had one catch apiece.
Defensively Jake Swenka led with 17 tackles (two solo, 15 assists), Aaron Campbell and Stephen Jensen had 10 each (all assists) and Miguel Mosaquites had seven (six assists with one solo). Martinac and Nzombo had a solo sack apiece.
Next up for the Clippers is a Friday, Aug. 31, engagement in Wellman against Mid-Prairie. The work for Walls’ warriors is already cut out for them: “We want 13 more games,” the coach said.