IOWA CITY − After just one play from scrimmage, Muscatine (4-4, 1-3) found itself trailing in Friday's district contest at Iowa City West (7-1, 4-0).
Iowa City West quarterback Marcus Morgan connected with Jalen Gaudet for a 62-yard touchdown 27 seconds into the game, setting up a disastrous night for the Muskies, who fell 58-14.
"We had to play really well tonight to win this game because they're a very good team," Muscatine coach Jake Mueller said. "Literally the ball didn't bounce our way early, and when things got rolling, it just kind of got away from us. It felt like if we could have had some early success, I felt like we could have been alright, but we didn't."
Muscatine followed the Trojans' first score with a three-and-out on its first possession, and Carson Borde couldn't handle the snap on the punt attempt, watching the ball roll toward the end zone before kicking it out of bounds for a safety.
Within a minute, Muscatine found itself trailing by two possessions and continued to struggle to stop an explosive Iowa City West offense that collected 500 total yards on the night.
Trailing 16-0 and after throwing four straight incompletions to start the game, Muscatine quarterback Carson Orr found Eli Gaye for a 51-yard touchdown and cut the deficit to 16-7 midway through the first quarter.
But the Trojans scored three more touchdowns in the first half, entering halftime with a 37-7 lead.
Muscatine's first two possessions of the third quarter resulted in a three and out and a fumble that was scooped up by West and returned 24 yards for a touchdown.
With the game out of reach, trailing 58-7 in the fourth quarter, Orr connected with Gay for a 35-yard touchdown and Muscatine's only other score of the night.
Orr finished 16 of 26 for 222 yards and two touchdowns, but he fumbled and threw an interception. Gaye had seven catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
"Against really good teams, you just can't make mistakes, and we made them," Mueller said. "Good teams take advantage of that, and West is a very good team."
Morgan led the Trojans with 245 passing yards, 42 rushing yards and three total touchdowns. Gaudet had three catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. Gaudet also returned a punt 63 yards for a touchdown.
After losing three straight, Muscatine will look to end the regular season on a high note next Friday when it plays Davenport North at Brady Street Stadium in Davenport.
"We just got to stay together," Mueller said. "In tough times, when your back's against the wall and things haven't gone your way, you're really tempted to not do the things that make you successful. You're tempted to not be disciplined. I just challenged them to look into the mirror and see what kind of character we have.
"We've got too much invested to not put a great week in as we prepare for this next week. We got a chance to get our fifth win and get a winning season. We got to get that done."