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Comets defeat Riverhawks in come-from-behind 19-14 homecoming victory

Comets defeat Riverhawks in come-from-behind 19-14 homecoming victory
Press photo by John Burbridge
Charles City quarterback Jordan Foster looks downfield during the Comets’ Homecoming Game against Mason City. Foster threw two big-play TD passes to Keenan Wiley to help the Comets overcome a 14-0 deficit to win 19-14.

By John Burbridge

CHARLES CITY — After his team’s stunning last-second loss on the road against Waterloo East two Fridays ago, Charles City head football coach Bryan Bjorklund slept like a baby.

For about two hours.

“At about 1 o’clock in the morning, I went out jogging because I just couldn’t sleep on it,” Bjorklund said of the Comets’ first loss of the season after the Trojans scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to win 39-36.

“It just left an open pit in your stomach, and the only way to fill it was to get back to work on Monday,” Bjorklund said of Charles City’s subsequent Homecoming Week. “Our kids were ready to go back to work, too, and it showed.”

Down 14-0 in the first half against Mason City, it was the Comets who managed to come from behind with three big-play touchdowns on the way to a 19-14 Homecoming Game victory.

After being bottled up by the Riverhawks’ defense well into the second quarter, Charles City finally broke the first of the trio of big plays igniting the comeback effort. Comet quarterback Jordan Foster hit Keenan Wiley on a quick slant pattern, and Wiley — after breaking a few arm-tackle attempts — did the rest while outracing the rest of MC’s defenders all the way to the end zone for a 59-yard catch-and-run scoring pass play.

On the following Charles City possession, Wiley was able to outbattle a Riverhawk defender for a Foster pass along the sidelines to secure the go-route catch before outsprinting the field again all the way to paydirt — this time an 87-yard catch-and-run score.

With Comet placekicker Jack Hanson going 1 of 2 on PAT attempts after Wiley’s two scores, MC still clung onto a lead (14-13) going into halftime. But when Josiah Cunnings returned the kickoff to open the second half 97 yards for another score to rouse the packed homecoming crowd even more, it put the Comets up for good.

“We knew they were out to stop ‘Petey’,” Bjorklund said of Wiley, who accumulated 146 receiving yards on just two receptions, “but once they started bringing their safeties over, that opened things up in the middle for us.”

Foster completed 3 of 10 attempts for 151 yards and has thrown for nine TDs this season — seven with Wiley which leads Class 3A receivers through four games this season — to go against just two interceptions.

After Cunnings’ kick return, the Comets primarily went with a ground attack and were able to move the chains while eating up the clock.

Though Charles City’s backfield tandem of senior Isaiah Roe and sophomore Deacon Caspers collectively had a modest night running the ball, they were key cogs to a defensive unit that produced its best effort of the season after taking it on the chin against the Trojans the week before.

While at linebacker, Caspers had four solo tackles, which included him running down Riverhawk quarterback Brayen Miller on a keeper just short of the first-down marker enabling the Comets to take over on downs after Mason City ventured deep into their territory.

Roe recovered a fumble late in the game after the Riverhawks again drove deep into Comet territory. And then on the final play of the game, Roe — who’s a defensive lineman — harassed Miller into making a futile pass attempt that landed harmlessly at midfield, setting off the homecoming victory celebration.

Other defensive standouts for the Comets included Cunnings, who had a team-leading 9.5 total tackles and an interception; Keegan Bollman, who had a team-leading 7 solo tackles and a quarterback sack; and Micah Hillhouse, who broke up three passes while defending in the secondary.

The Comets improved to 3-1 for the season just ahead of this Friday’s away game at Algona (3-1) to start the Class 3A-District 2 portion of their schedule.

Friday’s victory over the Riverhawks was the second homecoming victory for Comet coach Bjorklund since he took over the program in 2021 — it was also his first against his former team as he served as an assistant coach at MC before coming to Charles City.

“This was sweet,” Bjorklund said of victory over the Riverhawks — it was the first time Bjorklund’s Comets had beaten a Class 4A team.

Miller completed 13 of 25 pass attempts for 165 yards, including a 15-yard TD pass to Drew Hobart that capped a 61-yard drive to start the game; and Justyn Rivera rushed for a game-high 144 yards on 34 carries, including a 33-yard TD run to help give the Riverhawks (1-3) their 14-0 lead.


Scoring By Quarters

MASON CITY 6 8 0 0 — 14

CHARLES CITY 0 13 6 0 — 19

Individual Scoring

MC — Drew Hobart 15-yard pass from Brayden Miller (Run failed) 5:24 1st, 6-0

MC — Justyn Rivera 33-yard run (Eric Farland pass from Miller) 8:34 2nd, 14-0

CC — Keenan Wiley 59-yard pass from Jordan Foster (Jack Hanson kick) 8:17 2nd, 14-7

CC — Wiley 87-yard pass from Foster (Kick failed) 4:21 2nd, 14-13

CC — Josiah Cunnings 97-yard kickoff return (Pass failed) 11:47 3rd, 19-14

RECORDS — Charles City 3-1, Mason City 1-3

Individual Statistics

PASSING — (CC) Jordan Foster 3-10, 151 yards, 2 TDs, INT; (MC) Brayden Miller 13-25, 165 yards, TD; Dane Hanson 0-1, INT.

RUSHING — (CC) Deacon Caspers 8 carries, 23 yards; Isaiah Roe 8 carries, 19 yards; (MC) Justyn Rivera 34 carries, 144 yards, TD; Brayden Miller 11 carries, 53 yards.

RECEIVING — (CC) Keenan Wiley 2 catches, 146 yards, 2 TDs; Josiah Cunnings 1 catch, 5 yards; (MC) Drayden Witt 3 catches, 63 yards; Reed Kruger 5 catches, 53 yards; Drew Hobart 3 catches, 32 yards, TD; Ty Sanchez-Evans 2 catches, 17 yards.

DEFENSE — (CC) Josiah Cunnings 9.5 total tackles, 6 solo tackles, INT-18-yard return; Isaiah Roe 6 total tackles; 4 solo tackles, fumble recovery, QB hurry; Keegan Bollman 9 total tackles, 7 solo tackles, QB sack; Brayden Ellis 2 solo tackles, fumble recovery; Jackson Ruzicka 7.5 total tackles, 4 solo tackles; Deacon Caspers 5.5 total tackles, 4 solo tackles; Colton Anderegg 4.5 total tackles; (MC) Gabe Ries 4 total tackles, tackle for loss; Logan Eide tackle for loss; Carter Klemesrud INT-20-yard return.

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