The Chariton Charger football team had a promising start against PCM at homecoming Friday night but couldn’t quite hold on in a 38-14 loss to the Mustangs, who are the defending Class 2A state champions.

The start of the game was delayed an hour and two minutes due to lightning delays. Due to the late start and finish, the homecoming dance afterwards was cancelled.

With the loss, Chariton moved to 2-3 overall and 0-1 in Class 2A District 8 play. Chariton has four regular season games left including another tough game at Centerville this week and a tough home game against Des Moines Christian in three weeks.

Against PCM, the Chargers began with a 66-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Graden Arnold to Payton Lavender on the game’s opening possession to take a 7-0 lead.

But the Chargers had two critical first half fumbles that led to PCM scores. After Chariton scored the opening touchdown, on PCM’s ensuing possession they forced the Mustangs into a punt, but Chariton fumbled the punt return and gave the ball back on the Charger 35-yard line, which led to a PCM score.

Chariton scored on a 29-yard pass from Arnold to Dylan Cain to cut PCM’s lead to 17-14 with 1:41 left in the first half. However, the Chargers once again fumbled the return and gave the Mustangs the ball deep in Mustang territory at their 30. Two plays later, the Mustangs capitalized as running back Connor Bennett threw a 64-yardx touchdown pass to Jacob VanWinkle to give the Mustangs a 10-point lead at halftime.

The Chargers also had a killer turnover when they were driving and down 24-14 with about seven minutes left in the third quarter when they moved the ball down to the PCM 22-yard line and looked like they would score to make it a three-point game. However, Arnold threw an interception, which halted the drive and kept it a 10-point game.

Coach Curt Smyser was pleased with his team’s effort in the game. “We played so much better this week than we did against Knoxville. We had two or three plays that we really messed up, but as far as what we did, I thought we played really hard,” he said.

Chariton struggled running the ball again as they had just 75 yards rushing as a team on the night. Cain and P.J. Rich each led the team with 25 yards rushing apiece.

“We had a hard time run blocking in general. We need to do a better job of that. We need to have about 150 yards rushing or so a game,” Coach Smyser said.

Arnold threw the ball well for the most part, except for two interceptions. He went 9-20 through the air for 174 yards with two touchdowns and the two picks. Lavender had an outstanding night receiving with three catches for 109 yards and one touchdown. Cain caught five passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.

“Riley Reece played really well at defensive tackle. It was probably the best game defensively he has ever had,” Coach Smyser said. Reece had eight solo tackles, one assist and two tackles for loss. Cain had 11 solo tackles, five assists and two tackles for loss. Rich had six solo tackles, two assists and two tackles for loss.

Chargers score first

After Chariton scored on the 66-yard pass from Arnold to Lavender on their first possession, Wyatt Chipp kicked the extra point to give Chariton a 7-0 lead with 10:39 left in the first quarter.

The Chargers forced PCM into a three and out on their opening possession and into a punt. The Chargers fumbled the punt return, giving the ball back to the Mustangs at the Charger 35. PCM’s Sage Burns ran the ball to the 29.

Read the October 1, 2019 edition of the Chariton Leader for the rest of the story.

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