It’s been a long time since the Ankeny football team was on the wrong side of a running clock.
But that’s how good second-ranked Southeast Polk is.
The two-time defending Class 5A state champion Rams scored on six consecutive possessions to build a 42-7 halftime lead, putting the running clock into effect, and went on to post a 58-21 victory at Ankeny on Friday.
It was the Hawks’ worst loss since a 42-0 shutout against Dowling Catholic in 2018.
“Obviously, it wasn’t pretty,” said Ankeny coach Jeff Bauer. “But this game isn’t going to define us. We’re 1-1 whether we lose by what we lost by tonight or by one point. It counts the same.”
Southeast Polk (2-0) has become the dominant force in Class 5A under former Ankeny coach Brad Zelenovich. The Rams are now 36-3 since the beginning of the 2020 season, with all three of those losses coming to the Hawks.
Even though the outcome was already decided, Ankeny played much better in the second half. Quarterback Luke Anderson completed 21-of-30 passes for 220 yards and three touchdowns in the loss.
“I thought (the Rams) were more physical than us in the second quarter,” Bauer said. “We challenged the guys at halftime to come out and win the second half, and they responded.”
The Hawks actually got off to a great start. After forcing a three-and-out to open the game, they took advantage of a short field to grab an early 7-0 lead.
On fourth-and-11 from Southeast Polk’s 34-yard line, Anderson connected with Devon Akers along the right sideline for the game’s first touchdown.
“I couldn’t have asked for us to start any better,” Bauer said. “The offense was clicking.”
The Rams faced third-and-10 on their ensuing possession before Connor Moberly threw a 9-yard pass to Carson Robbins. Then, on fourth-and-1, Moberly kept the ball on a sneak for the first down.
That was the start of the Southeast Polk onslaught.
Shortly thereafter, Moberly fired a 17-yard pass to Sam Zelenovich. The Iowa State recruit followed with a 28-yard pass to Robbins, then connected with Zelenovich for a 20-yard scoring pass that tied the game at 7-7 with 5 minutes 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
“We started the game hot, unlike last week,” Bauer said. “We were up 7-0 and then we had them in third-and-10, but they converted. Obviously, they’re good. The quarterback is really good. They have receivers that run great routes. They made plays, and we just didn’t answer.”
Moberly ran for one touchdown and passed for four more in the first half. He threw a 35-yard scoring pass to Zelenovich to make it 28-7 midway through the second quarter, then found Robbins for touchdowns of 27 and 18 yards later in the half.
Southeast Polk repeatedly capitalized on great field position. The Rams started three of their scoring drives in Ankeny territory–at the 35, 49 and 27.
The Hawks got their offense untracked in the second half. They opened the third quarter with a 12-play, 82-yard drive, capped off by Akers’ beautiful one-handed catch along the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown.
Akers finished with eight catches for 114 yards.
Evan Irlmeier scored on a 40-yard reception with 8:28 left in the game. He had five catches for 62 yards.
Daniel Larmie added 65 yards rushing on 19 carries, but the Hawks still committed too many mistakes.
“We were sloppy tonight,” Bauer said. “We had too many penalties. Way too many penalties. That’s on us.”
Ankeny’s grueling schedule continues on Friday when the Hawks travel to Valley Stadium to face No. 1 Dowling. The Maroons (2-0) are coming off a 14-0 win over Valley.