MASON CITY | To describe the scene with words wouldn’t do it justice, but it’s worth trying.
Just like it was worth the Mason City Mohawks going for a two-point conversion in double-overtime.
Pure elation is an understatement. Senior quarterback Danny Kamm stood in the middle of the post-game huddle shouting to his teammates, “I KNEW I DID NOT PUT UP 200 YARDS THIS GAME FOR NOTHING!”
“YEAH!” the team answered.
It was the Mohawks’ second straight home victory and they couldn’t tell you the last time they did that.
And despite their mighty breakdown chant, the tears ensued as the seniors met the warm embraces of their parents. Walking out the gates of the stadium, you could see one of them crying, “We did it, mom,” and cheerleaders stand in a line, shaking their shiny red pom poms as the rest made their exit.
“It’s really indescribable, for me it’s a wave of emotions,” Mason City coach Matt Berkley said. “These seniors have worked extremely hard and many of them have experienced very little success at home and for them to go out and win on senior night at home, it’s a special thing. The emotion is raw.”
Combined with a Coaches vs. Cancer event and the return of Mason City alum and current Iowa Hawkeyes kicker, Miguel Recinos, it was the perfect night.
But the game was perfectly imperfect.
The Waterloo West Wahawks came into the game with a 4-3 record to Mason City’s 1-6.
But the first quarter would go scoreless, despite several big pass receptions by seniors Kalen Burt and Mario Wright.
The Mohawks had their first opportunity to score in the second quarter. Following a facemask penalty on Kamm’s run that put them in the red zone, the Mohawks attempted a field goal. But two false starts took the Mohawks out of range, forcing a punt.
Mason City would score the second time. Kamm had driven the ball down field on a 40-yard run, then an 18-yard touchdown reception by junior Joey Quintero helped the Mohawks enter halftime with a 7-0 lead.
After halftime, the Wahawks would fight through nine penalties to drive downfield. A touchdown run by sophomore Isaac Tolbert would tie the game 7-7 with 2:44 left in the third quarter.
Following a penalty-plagued third quarter came absolute madness.
Backed behind senior Noah Demaris’ 75-yard reception, the Mohawks returned to the red zone. Quintero was once again the target, catching a five-yard pass for a touchdown to reclaim the lead 14-7.
Kamm forced a 4th and 6 on defense, knocking down senior quarterback Cadd Dodd’s pass to Burt. On the next play, senior Lucas Deinhart had seemingly sealed the game, intercepting the ball with 1:57 left.
But there was still too much time. Mason City got the ball back and went three-and-out on a controversial measurement after 4th and 1 to turn the ball over on downs.
Dodd would drive the ball 78 yards on a series of to passes to Burt and Tolbert for a touchdown. After a false start penalty on the first PAT, the second was made and the game was tied.
“They have athletes and we knew that Burt was a playmaker,” Berkley said. “And they kept that in their back pocket and they challenged us. I can’t fault the defense at all, they played hard for four quarters.”
Just when the Mohawks had a chance to win after a short kickoff put them in good field position, the Wahawks made it difficult, intercepting the ball at their own 25. Two penalty flags were thrown. There was a personal foul on Mason City, but a Waterloo West player had thrown a punch at a Mohawk following the interception, removing him from the game effectively on unnecessary roughness.
The clock ran out and the stands were half-emptied, but those whom braved the late-night chill wouldn’t be disappointed.
The Mohawks had the ball first, Kamm rolled out to the left, looking for a receiver, but he would cut across to the right behind his blockers to cut in for a touchdown at the corner to take the lead.
Waterloo West answered with a touchdown run by junior Tanner Pollock. Both teams made their PATs, despite the fans hoping for an immediate ending.
The Wahawks got the ball first in the second overtime, immediately scoring on a touchdown reception by Burt.
Quintero caught the final touchdown reception for the Mohawks, and then Berkley decided to stop the shootout, calling for a two-point conversion.
“They wanted to, they looked at me and I could tell that this was it,” Berkley said. “They wanted it and they went for it. I said it was senior night and this is our game, just make sure that they get the blocks and they roll it out and put it in Danny’s hands and he made a play.”
Kamm rolled out to the left, dodging tackles, lobbing it to senior Azik Barragan in the fade to win the game.
Players swarmed the endzone, burying Barragan into the ground.
Was it “perfect?” No, but it was worth it.