Football is a game of inches. Muscatine found that out the hard way Friday night.
After rallying back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit, the Muskies just needed to stop Pleasant Valley on fourth-and-goal from the one to win the game in overtime.
Unfortunately, the Spartans were the ones celebrating after the game’s final play, a one-yard quarterback sneak by Ryan Mumey to give Pleasant Valley a 30-27 win.
“I just told them I’m proud of them, I love them,” Muscatine coach Jake Mueller said. “We just battled, showed some toughness and some grit. We played hard, just didn’t play well enough.”
Still, trailing 24-7 to start the fourth quarter, overtime didn’t even seem like a possibility for Muscatine (1-5, 0-2 Class 4A District 4).
The rally started on the defensive side of the ball. Diego Rangel hauled in one of his two interceptions in the game off Mumey.
"I just think they believed,” Mueller said.“They believed we were good enough to win the game. We just kept playing, we didn’t get too down, we didn’t press. I felt like at some point somebody was going to make a play and Diego stepped up."
The Muskies took advantage, as Eli Gaye converted a 5-yard touchdown rush on the first play of the fourth quarter to pull within 24-14.
It still seemed like an uphill battle, especially after a fourth down pass from quarterback Jake Draves intended for Zach Hardy was batted down with eight minutes to play.
The Muskies needed a little bit of help, and they got it when a snap got by the Spartan punter and bounced into the end zone for a safety. Suddenly, the Muskies trailed just 24-16 and had possession with 4:20 remaining.
Muscatine converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive, capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by junior running back Tim Nimely. He had 20 carries for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
Moments later, the Muskies dialed up a play-action pass where Draves found an open Nick Peterson to tie the game.
In overtime, though, it was Pleasant Valley (2-4, 1-1) that made the necessary plays.
The Muskies were stopped on the 5 and had to settle for a field goal by Rory Smock. On the first play of Pleasant Valley’s possession, running back Brandon DePover sprinted down to the 1.
Three plays later, PV put the finishing touches on the win with the sneak.
There were encouraging signs for Muscatine, especially on the game’s opening drive.
The Muskies struck first with a 12 play, 70-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 4-yard touchdown run by Nimely. However, the four first downs they picked up on the opening drive were their only ones of the half.
Pleasant Valley answered on the following drive. It marched into the red zone on the strength of its triple-option attack. With two minutes remaining in the first quarter, the Spartans attempted their first pass of the game.
It resulted in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Mummy to Jose Lara.
The Spartans didn’t stop there, though. Instead of kicking off, the Spartans hit a squib kick and recovered it on the Muskies’ 28.
“It’s a huge play,” Mueller said. “It’s definitely the play that turned things around. All season the ball has been bouncing the wrong way for us. Credit to them, they made a play.”
With 10:51 remaining in the second quarter, PV running back George Venzke walked into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown to give the Spartans a 14-7 lead.
The Spartan onslaught didn’t stop, either.
After a Muscatine three-and-out, Pleasant Valley once again marched down the field. Mumey finished the time-consuming drive with a 7-yard touchdown run. The Spartans tacked on three more points before halftime after Blake Sherman intercepted Draves.
Muscatine eventually rallied in the fourth quarter, but Pleasant Valley had the last laugh in overtime.
Pleasant Valley 30, Muscatine 27 (OT)
Mus — Tim Nimely 4 run (Rory Smock kick) 5:32
PV — Jose Lara 14 pass from Ryan Mumey (Emmit Adamson kick), 2:05
PV — George Venzke 1 run (Adamson kick), 10:51
PV — Mumey 7 run (Adamson kick), 1:47
PV — 36 field goal, 0:06
Mus — Eli Gaye 5 run (Smock kick), 11:54
Mus — Pleasant Valley safety, 4:29
Mus — Tim Nimely 1 run (Jake Draves pass to Nick Peterson), 2:14
Mus — Smock 22 field goal
PV — Mumey 1 run
Muscatine – Tim Nimely 20-89, Mentor Cooper 1-5, Eli Gaye 1-5, Jake Draves 6-3, Reed Ulses 3-1
Pleasant Valley – George Venzke 10-52, Ryan Mumey 13-47, Brandon DePover 9-46. Luke Brandmeyer 6-26, Matt Mickle 4-16
Muscatine – Jake Draves 13-19-1, 117 yards
Pleasant Valley – Mumey 7-13-2, 69 yards
Muscatine – Zach Hardy 6-57, Gaye 6-40, Nick Petersen 2-13, Nimely 2-7
Pleasant Valley – Ben Wilson 4-32, Jose Lara 2-26, Kellen Hornbuckle 1-11