SIOUX CITY -- The first quarter was a positive one for Sioux City West in the Wolverines season-opener against Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson at Elwood Olsen Stadium on Thursday.
The Wolverines racked up 132 yards of total offense in two drives and took a 6-0 lead at the end of the quarter. West's defense held on the Yellow Jackets only drive of the quarter, forcing a missed field goal.
The rest of the game didn't follow the same script for the Wolverines. The offense struggled to produce for the rest of the game and West's defense struggled to get off the field in crucial situations.
The Yellow Jackets found the end zone twice in the second quarter to take the lead and then scored 19 more points in the second half for a 31-6 victory over West in a game that was delayed three times in the first half due to lightning.
Third down defense was a problem for West. In the game-tying drive in the second quarter, the Yellow Jackets were 2-for-2 on third-down conversions, including a 21-yard run on third-and-13 early in the drive. Thomas Jefferson converted a third-and-9 in its next possession with a 51-yard pass and then converted fourth-and-22 with a 27-yard touchdown pass to take the lead.
The Yellow Jackets converted 9-of-12 third-down attempts.
"I don't look at it as just a third-down thing. As a team, we just have to work on the techniques on every down, understanding the situations and understanding the formations," West coach Joe Schmitz said. "When we get to third down, what are they likely to do? We aren't to that point yet because they are still learning how to play football. It's something we are going to get better at and by week two, we will clean up some things."
After the score in the first quarter, West only gained five more first downs for the rest of the contest and one was because of a penalty. The Wolverines only gained 55 total yards in the final three quarters.
The Wolverines only rushed for 48 yards in the game on 20 carries.
Sophomore Devin Frye made his first start at quarterback and completed two of his first three passes for 108 yards. From there, he completed 2-of-16 passes for 31 yards and threw four interceptions.
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A couple of the interceptions came late as West trying to mount a big comeback and more than a few of the incompletions were dropped by receivers. West also lost a fumble in the game.
"I think Devin played a great game. Statistically it's going to look like crap but the reality is, he was taking some chances and we needed to get some vertical throws and that's what they were giving us," Schmitz said. "We weren't as good running the ball as we wanted to be. That's what they gave us and we didn't execute."
West was called for 15 penalties in the game. At two different times in the game, West was called for three straight penalties. The first time was on the first drive when the Wolverines were called for three straight false starts. Later in the first half, West was called for back-to-back false starts followed by an illegal motion.
"The reality of those are having four new offensive linemen in there. It's just experience," Schmitz said. "Those penalties, you don't see those out of seniors because they are used to it."
After the Yellow Jackets missed a field goal in their first drive, West took over at its own 19 and on third down, Frye rolled to his right and threw a pass over the linebacker and hit Nick Puente in stride as he ran down the right sideline for 51 yards. The next play was a draw play and Frye weaved his way through the defense for a 21-yard score.
That's the potential Schmitz sees in the offense, even though it wasn't clicking on Thursday night.
"Our kids belong on the field. It's not like we are less talented or anything like that," Schmitz said. "It's just our execution isn't there."
The two teams traded possessions when the Yellow Jackets' offense started to get rolling. Jermaine Green completed a 76-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown to tie the game and then after an interception, Thomas Jefferson took the lead when Austin Schubert hit J.J. Johanns for a 27-yard touchdown on fourth down 22 seconds before halftime.
In the third quarter, Green scored his second touchdown, this one on an 18-yard run and then after an interception, the Yellow Jackets scored again on Josh Whitelaw's 3-yard touchdown run. A fumble helped setup Dylan Carmen's 1-yard touchdown plunge to end the scoring at 31-6.