Iowa Central stumbles in home debut

The Iowa Central football team has yet to find their offensive identity through three games.

That was never more apparent than here Saturday afternoon at Dodger Stadium, as the Tritons dropped their home opener to rival Ellsworth, 44-25.

Iowa Central (0-3 overall, 0-1 in ICCAC) scored on a pair of kickoff returns, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt in the end zone, but managed just 86 yards of total offense against the Panthers (1-2, 1-0) – who racked up almost 500 yards themselves.

“We just can’t get it going with our offense,” ICCC head coach Kevin Twait said. “And the problem is that it isn’t just one position. If it was, that would be an easy fix.

“We are having troubles all over the field and it is something we need to figure out in a hurry because nobody coming up (on our schedule) is going to feel sorry for us.”

Paris Chambers, who was recruited by Iowa Central before deciding to attend Ellsworth after a standout prep career in Alabama, completed 23 of 43 passes for 332 yards and five touchdowns. He connected with freshman Juwan Petit-Frere seven times for 101 yards and a score, while sophomore Jamarius Way had three touchdowns catches on the day.

“They really took it to us in the second half behind Chambers,” Twait said. “We knew he was a fine football player and they have some very good skill kids. Our defense was just exhausted from being on the field so much.

“That starts with the offense. We have to be able to string drives together, get first downs and allow our defense to rest. When they were able to play with energy, they did a nice job (containing Ellsworth).”

Twait was left second-guessing a decision he made late in the first half that swayed momentum from Iowa Central’s side to Ellsworth. With under a minute left, the Panthers recovered a fumbled punt. Seconds later, Chambers tossed an 8-yard TD pass to Way and the visitors went from being down 13-10 to up 17-13.

Ellsworth came out after halftime and Chambers promptly threw two more touchdowns. A two-time state champion in Class 7A for Mobile, Ala., Chambers was 13 of 22 for 180 yards in the second half, finishing with a 156.7 quarterback rating.

“I thought about not putting anyone back there (on the punt), but we did that earlier and they downed it at our own 1-yard line,” Twait said. “So we decided to field it and they recovered.

“That really was a huge play in the game.”

Iowa Central had two fumbles, two intereceptions, surrendered four quarterback sacks and committed 14 penalties for 130 yards. Ellsworth lost a pair of fumbles and had 22 penalties for 220 yards.

Davonte Ellis recovered the blocked punt for the first score of the contest, while Isaiah Thomas and D’Anthony Bell each returned kickoffs for scores. Carsten Bosch added a 40-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

“When you get that many points out of your defense and special teams, you are normally right there in it,” Twait said. “We just have to get better. Our players have to get better and us coaches have to get better.”

Iowa Central plays its next two games in Kansas, traveling to Highland next Saturday and Independence the week after. They return home on Oct. 1 to host seventh-ranked Hutchinson at 1 p.m.