Perry landed two quick jabs to North Polk’s chin in the first round to make an early statement. The Comets slowly clawed their way back into the fight, with a body shot in the 12th round threatening to knock out the Bluejays, only to have the hosts throw a 1-2 combination just before the bell to stand victorious in the end.
Had Friday’s non-district season-opener at Dewey Field Friday been a boxing match, the above description would have accurately described an evenly-matched bout that turned on two big plays just when Perry needed them most. The result was a 28-21 victory for the Bluejays, a win that was their first since a 21-13 win at Algona Oct. 3, 2014. The Jays were also able to ring the school’s victory bell for a Dewey Field triumph, something they have not been able to do since topping Boone, 21-14, Sept. 19, 2014.
North Polk held a 14-13 lead when they forced a Perry punt midway through the fourth quarter. The Comets took possession at the 50 yard line, and handed the ball to Mason Russell for four consecutive runs which gassed a clearly tiring Perry defense and ended with a four-yard TD run. The PAT kick was good, and the guests had a 21-13 edge with 5:07 to play against a Perry team whose offense had posed little, if any, threat in the second half.
Enter the Bluejay special teams, notably speedster Reece Dunlap. The junior was a 100-meter dash state track meet qualifier in May, and flashed his foot speed by grabbing the ensuing kickoff at the 10-yard line and running left toward the Perry sideline. He eluded one would-be tackler, saw a crease, and blazed past his cheering teammates toward the west end zone for a touchdown with 4:53 to play.
Down 21-19, Perry was forced to try a two-point conversion to tie the game. Quarterback Adan Medina dropped back to pass, saw nothing open, and stepped up and out of the pocket into the middle of the field, where there was no open space. That, however, did not stop the junior, who put his head down and slammed hard enough into a pair of defenders to fall over the end line for the two points.
The Comets opted to take to the air on their next possession, with linebacker Mark Campos — clearly unseen by North Polk quarterback Anthony Capaldo — dropping back into his zone coverage and finding the pigskin flying directly into his hands at the 30 yard line.
His 15-yard return to the 15-yard line put Perry in position to steal the win, which they did several plays later when Medina rolled right and won a dash across the painted stripe beyond which six points lay. German Alvarenga split the uprights and Perry had a 28-21 lead with 1:21 to play.
Clearly stunned, the Comets went nowhere in four quick plays, with Perry taking over on downs and running out the clock for the victory.
Perry received several gifts from North Polk, including 12 penalties, two poor passing decisions that resulted in turnovers and a pair of very short punts. The first punt traveled just five yards, setting the hosts up deep in Comet territory early in the game.
Medina bulled over from three yards out and Alvarenga’s PAT made it 7-0 with 7:55 still on the first quarter clock. Donald Chavez’s interception and 46-yard return to the Comet three-yard line created another short field, with Campos bulling over from four yards away for a 13-0 lead with 6:06 left in the period.
Perry had scored just one rushing touchdown in all a 2015, a two-yard Taviar Lucas dive at Carroll, but suddenly had two ground TDs in the first six minutes of the 2016 campaign.
North Polk avoided further damage by blocking a 20-yard field goal attempt late in the first quarter before marching 88 yards on nine plays for a score when Ben Rupe scored on a 29-yard pass from Capaldo to trim the score to 13-7.
Perry’s Brandon Juarez alertly recovered a Perry punt that deflected off a Comet player, but the Jays could not cash in and settled for a 13-7 halftime edge.
A light rain fell through most of the second half, with the Comets converting on a 3rd-and-25 and a 4th-and-22, with Adam Moxley making both key receptions. Capaldo’s five-yard keeper and a PAT made it 14-13 in favor of the guests and setting the stage for a wild final six minutes.
Capaldo finished 9-24-2 for 163 yards and one score, with Russell carrying 23 times for 139 to fuel the Comet attack.
Campos led Perry on the ground with 58 yards on 14 carries, with Medina rushing 19 times for 54 yards. Dunlap had two tries for eight yards and Chavez one yard on one carry.
Campos also paced the receivers with 32 yards on three snags. Dunlap went 17 yards on one catch, with Janier Puente making a five-yard snag.
Dunlap had 5.5 tackles, with Medina, Nic Fellom and Tyler Soll all making five stops. Puente finished with two sacks with Fellom making two tackles for a loss.
Perry will take to Dewey Field again Friday when Nevada visits for the second, and final, non-district battle this season. The Cubs were 27-14 victors over CMB in their opening contest.
You can help score continued sports coverage like you will find nowhere else by becoming a $5-per-month donor to ThePerryNews.com. To get started, simply click the Paypal link below.