ANDERSON — Gutsy calls paid off for the Anderson-Shiro football team in the Owls’ 26-0 win over rival Iola on Friday night at Owl Stadium.
Anderson-Shiro (3-0) converted a quartet of fourth downs, three of which extended touchdown drives. The Owls ran two fake punts, getting the first down on both, and a fourth-and-3 pass in the second quarter from junior quarterback Cole Werner resulted in a 35-yard touchdown to senior Kreese Milligan.
“We like to roll the dice a little bit,” Anderson-Shiro head coach Brad Hodges said. “Our coaches do a good job finding stuff on film. There were a few things they saw this week that they really liked. We knew the opportunities would be there if we could just execute, and we were excited we were able to pull them off.”
Turnovers became a recurring theme for Iola (2-1), which gave away the ball five times.
After mustering just 28 total yards of offense, the Bulldogs switched quarterbacks, but replacing Blake Driver for Ricky Flores was to no avail. Flores threw three interceptions, all in Anderson-Shiro territory, including one at the goal line to end Iola’s best drive of the night. Junior Rance Imhoff had two of the three interceptions for Anderson-Shiro,
Forcing takeaways was pivotal for the Owls, as the Bulldog defense kept them at bay for most of the second half.
“Our defense did a heck of a job all night long,” Werner said. “The offense hit a little wall coming out of halftime and it’s just the resilience of the defense coming out there and getting stop after stop after stop.”
For the night, Iola managed just 76 total yards of offense and five first downs.
“We weren’t blitzing quite that much; we were just getting a lot of penetration with our front four and our noses and tackles,” Anderson-Shiro junior defensive lineman Zane Moriarty said. “It’s amazing to be able to hold this team to zero.”
Anderson-Shiro senior running back Zacarrius “Woody” Haynes didn’t post another 400-yard game but was a pivotal performer in the Owls’ victory, rushing for 58 yards on 11 carries and finding the end zone twice. Haynes was sidelined in the second half, though, sitting for precautionary reasons after suffering a minor injury to his left leg.
Still, the Owls were aided by Haynes’ strong first half, as his two touchdowns gave Anderson-Shiro a decisive 19-0 lead at intermission.
“He had a tough break tonight,” Hodges said of Haynes. “He came out really inspired after the week he had, and you could see he was pretty determined to grind out those yards when [Iola was] making it a point to stack the box and keep us from running the ball. He wasn’t going to have it.”
Both Anderson-Shiro and Iola continue nondistrict play next week. The Owls host Brazos Christian while the Bulldogs return home to face Milano.
“We’ve got Brazos Christian coming up next week, Homecoming, so there’s going to be a lot of hype around that game,” Werner said. “We’re looking to keep the winning streak going.”