The physical play of North Polk on both sides of the ball wore Roland-Story down as the Comets opened the season with a 14-6 victory over the Norsemen on Friday night at Alleman.
Roland-Story took a 6-0 lead four minutes into the game on a 7-yard Jakob Pitman touchdown run.
North Polk started to control the game in the second quarter, but Roland-Story’s defense hung tough, maintaining the Norsemen’s edge going into the fourth quarter.
The Norsemen made six big fourth-down stops going into the fourth quarter. None were bigger than a fourth-and-goal play from the 3-yard line with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left in the fourth quarter in which Carter Greenfield forced North Polk receiver Quinten Sommers out of bounds.
In the fourth quarter, Comet tailback Mason Russell and a tough North Polk offensive line began to overpower Roland-Story. With 8:30 to go in regulation, the Comets broke through when Russell capped a 68-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Roland-Story head football coach Aaron Stensland said. “I don’t know how many fourth-down stops they had — I think six. They couldn’t do it on the seventh one, and it kind of broke us down a bit mentally.”
The Roland-Story offense never got anything going down the stretch. The Norsemen finished with only 98 yards after their initial 80-yard scoring drive.
“We were playing physical after the first drive,” North Polk defensive end Alec Bolletta said. “Throughout the game, we were getting more physical and doing what we were supposed to do.”
Russell finished off Roland-Story on a 34-yard touchdown run with just 25 seconds left in the game. He finished with 184 yards rushing on 23 carries, getting stronger as the game wore on despite cramping up in the third quarter.
“You’ve just got to dig deep and trust your skills in everything,” Russell said. “But you have to give all the credit to the offensive linemen. They just blocked like crazy.”
North Polk totaled 360 yards of offense. Both teams had one turnover as Greenfield intercepted a pass and Colten Parkins had an interception for the Comets.
Roland-Story will play at Gilbert at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 25.
“We’ve just got to toughen up, become a better team and go on to the next one,” Stensland said.
North Polk 14, Roland-Story 6
Roland-Story 6 0 0 0 - 6
North Polk 0 0 0 14 - 14
Roland-Story - Jakob Pitman 7 run (kick failed), 8:00.
North Polk - Mason Russell 8 run (Colin Swygman kick), 8:30.
North Polk - Russell 34 run (Swygman kick), 0:25.