- Alma School District
Airedales smother Pointers, 27-7 8/24/22
Airedales smother Pointers, 27-7
By Kevin Taylor
The weight of a community rested on the strong legs of Joe Trusty. On third-and-goal with under half a minute to play, the big quarterback burled his way into the end to put the finishing touches on a 27-7 win over rival Van Buren.
The defense did the rest.
Alma held Van Buren to just 87 yards rushing, and except for one drive, locked in for a season-opening victory before a packed house at Citizens Bank Field at Airedale Stadium.
Alma (1-0) travels to Siloam Springs on Aug. 26.
“That third quarter, we really got it going - it turned around the game for us,” Trusty said. “Defensively, they (Alma) just kept playing hard. Offensively, we didn’t make any big adjustments, we had everything we needed, we just weren’t executing.”
Held to 123 first-half yards, Alma erased a 7-6 halftime deficit with a pair Trusty touchdown run. He wasn’t alone, either.
Drake Stogsdill caught seven passes for 121 yards and a touchdown and Carlos Gonzalez ran for 111 yards as Alma beat their Crawford County rivals for the first time since 2017. Trusty added 138 yards through the air, but it was offensive coordinator Chris Smith's play-calling that led to a pair of third-quarter touchdown runs - with Trusty capping a 96-yard drive with a 4-yard run and the aforementioned 1-yard plunge.
Trusty finished with 61 yards rushing, 45 of which came on the team's go-ahead TD.
Israel Towns-Robinson added 22 yards rushing on four carries and Ian Rhoads caught two passes for 15 yards.
Sophomore lineman Eli Waldrop fell on a loose football in the end zone to account for Alma's final TD.
The Airedales weren't without some missteps, including back-to-back holding penalties, a couple of dropped passes, and one big missed tackle in the backfield.
But they grinded out 15 second-half first downs and held the Pointers to just 233 total yards, nearly 200 fewer yards than the Airedales allowed in last season's 31-20 loss to the Pointers.
“Offensively and defensively, I knew we could do some things,” Alma coach Rusty Bush said. “I’m proud of our special team's effort, because in high school football, especially early, it can win you football games. I have to brag on Payton Morris, who we hired in the spring from Ouachita Baptist to be our special teams guy. We said earlier in the week we could win this game in the kicking game, and I think we did.”
Alma’s special teams plays led to a pair of touchdowns, including a partially-blocked punt in the first quarter that set up Trusty’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Stogsdill, and a second-half blocked punt by Carlos Gonzalez that led to Trusty’s clinching score.
“We were able to make some things happen today,” Morris said. “I’m just so proud of everyone’s effort. Credit to Van Buren, too, because they made some halftime adjustments and we were still able to get a big block. I feel like Carlos and Dillon (Flanagan) played outstanding all night long.”
Gonzalez opened the second half with a 38-yard run, the longest of his career.
“He makes guys miss,” Trusty said. “He’s capable of running for a lot of yards.”
Defensively, Alma forced Van Buren quarterback Bryce Perkins into a pair of interceptions, one from Kaydin Minshull and a clinching pick from veteran Brady Noyes.
Paul Eubanks, Dakota Stallings, Trey Bowen, Jaden Haher, Cash Farris, and Harper Osborn kept the pressure on Perkins, who finished just 11-for-21 for 136 yards.