By JOSH MEYER
IOWA FALLS - Iowa Central's offseason will come sooner than expected.
Unable to avenge an earlier setback, the injury-riddled Triton football team (6-4 overall) dropped a 42-10 decision to Ellsworth in a Midwest Football Conference first-round playoff clash Saturday afternoon at Cadet Field.
With the deflating loss, Iowa Central was denied a 14th bowl trip in the past 16 years.
"Things obviously didn't go as we were hoping, so now it's time to sack the bats and start recruiting for next season," ICCC head coach Kevin Twait said. "We knew (yesterday) was going to be a tough game with all of our injuries on offense, but that's no excuse. This one was a tough pill to swallow."
Iowa Central0 10 0 0- 10
Ellsworth7 7 14 14-42
Ellsworth - Jay Schmit (15-yard pass from Jordan Doyle), 9:57 left first. Alex Bainter kick.
Ellsworth - Trey Gilbert (1-yard run), 11:36 left second. Bainter kick.
Iowa Central - Teag Klyn (14-yard run), 7:56 left second. Alden Haffar kick.
Iowa Central - Haffar (42-yard field goal), :13 left second.
Ellsworth - Amari Williams (14-yard pass from Doyle), 8:58 left third. Bainter kick.
Ellsworth - Doyle (26-yard run), 1:04 left third. Bainter kick.
Ellsworth - Ciavy Wiles (10-yard pass from Doyle), 9:26 left fourth. Bainter kick.
Ellsworth - La'More Wise (33-yard fumble return), 8:14 left fourth. Bainter kick.
Rushing - Iowa Central: Jontel Clayton 24-147, Kippie Ward 12-71, Teag Klyn 5-22, Wesley Burnside 1-4, Mitch Bonnstetter 2-0, Tom McClimon 1-0, Team 1-(minus-1). Ellsworth: Trey Gilbert 19-108, Jordan Doyle 14-50, JT Tolbert 1-11, Willie Youngblood 1-3, Oscar Ross 1-0.
Passing - Iowa Central: Klyn 2-17-0-8, Mitch Bonnstetter 0-3-0-0. Ellsworth: Doyle 15-22-2-163, Ross 0-1-0-0.
Receiving - Iowa Central: Juwan Simmons 1-5, Keagan Parks 1-3. Ellsworth: Amari Williams 4-58, Gilbert 2-37, Ciavy Wiles 4-25, Jay Schmit 1-15, Tolbert 3-14, Christian Knox 1-14.
Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Jontel Clayton supplied an offensive bright spot for Iowa Central, gaining 147 yards on 24 carries. As a result of his efforts, Clayton surpassed Charlie White as the all-time Triton rushing king with 2,454 yards. Clayton, who finished second nationally in yards on the ground last fall at 1,477, wrapped up his decorated career with 26 touchdowns.
"(Setting the record) is pretty special, but I wish our team would've done better," said Clayton, who is also the all-time Dodger rushing leader with 3,522 yards. "I'm not thinking too much about it right now, but I'm sure after awhile it'll probably settle in."
After spotting the Panthers (6-3) a double-digit advantage early in the second quarter, Iowa Central managed to reel off the last 10 points of the half on a Teag Klyn 14-yard scoring dash and a 42-yard field goal from Alden Haffar. The Tritons would fail to slice the deficit any further, though, as the Panthers pulled away behind a 28-0 ambush in the final two periods. On its initial drive immediately following the break, Ellsworth delivered the dagger by methodically marching 72 yards in 11 plays, capped by a Jordan Doyle 14-yard endzone strike to Amari Williams.
"Just like the first time when we played them at (Dodger Stadium), we got our tails kicked in the second half (Iowa Central surrendered the Panthers three unanswered second-half touchdowns in a 24-17 defeat back on Oct. 13)," Twait said. "We seemed to have built some momentum at the end of the first half with that big field goal, but credit them for executing really well in the second half."
The Tritons, who lost a pair of fumbles, were limited to just 251 yards of total offense, including 243 on the ground. Iowa Central went only 2-for-20 through the air.
Kippie Ward of the Tritons also ran 12 times for 71 yards.
Defensively, Iowa Central received interceptions from safety Chris McGee and cornerback Cameron Berry and a sack by end Ronelle McNeil.
Former Memphis commit Trey Gilbert ignited the Panther ground charge, accumulating 108 yards and a touchdown on 19 attempts, before being forced out of action midway through the final frame with an apparent ankle injury.
Doyle completed 15 of 23 passes for 163 yards and three scores. Despite the victory, Ellsworth was whistled for 11 penalties for 80 yards.
Starting Triton quarterback Chris Bell and leading wide receiver Brandynn Clark were each sidelined with injuries yesterday.
A group of 32 sophomores concluded their careers on the gridiron for Iowa Central. They helped the blue and white to a 6-4 record a year ago, including a resounding 42-12 triumph over Central Lakes (Minn.) in the Graphic Edge Bowl.
"Our sophomores were a great bunch not just on the football field but also academically and socially," said Twait. "Those guys represented our program awfully well."
Awaiting the Panthers Saturday is an MFC playoff championship battle at unbeaten and top-ranked (NJCAA) Iowa Western (10-0). The Reivers hammered North Dakota Science in Saturday's other first-round contest, 65-0.