West Rallies Past Muscatine
West High senior Oliver Martin By Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
MUSCATINE – West coach Garrett Hartwig wouldn’t reveal the contents of his halftime message to his team. Whatever it was helped transform the ninth-ranked Trojans into a different football team in the second half and propelled them to a 31-27 victory over No. 10 Muscatine Friday night.
“For a couple years we have not come out of halftime very well, and I dropped something at half that’s a secret,” Hartwig said. “We pride ourselves with how hard we work in the offseason on conditioning. We didn’t need to change what we were doing; we just needed to do it better.”
“We’ve worked so hard and coaches got into us so we got back to our game which is really running the ball,” quarterback Evan Flitz said. “And that opened up our passing game.”
The Trojans trailed 20-10 at halftime and were being chewed up by the Muskies’ short-passing game, particularly the Luke Wichers to Drew Greenhaw combination.
Wichers completed all 13 of his first-half passes for 167 yards, 122 of which were Greenhaw receptions. Greenhaw finished with 13 catches for 231 yards.
But as much as anything, West looked flat compared to the Muskies who were flying around and delivering big hits.
The Trojans took the second-half kickoff and marched 67 yards in nine plays to cut the led to 20-17. The offensive line reestablished the line of scrimmage, and Matthew Huff used his knack for finding the holes. The West student section and the reserve players make a racket, and you could sense a shift in momentum.
Muscatine answered with a drive deep into West territory. But on first-and-15 on the West 25 Wichers threw deep, and Oliver Martin picked off the pass at the goal line and returned it to the 24.
It was a killer for the Muskies.
“I was playing strong side quarter, and I saw my guy went to the sideline,” Martin said. “I saw the post coming behind, and I slipped it out a little quick and I saw the ball. That was a little bit of a momentum shifter.”
“It’s one of those things where we expect someone to step up and make a play,” Hartwig said.
The Trojans put together another long drive that culminated in a 40-yard TD pass on a post route from Flitz to Martin. Martin eluded double coverage and made a diving catch at the goal line. West took the lead 24-20.
“He’s a pretty good receiver and athlete, so I trust him to do the work,” Flitz said. “I threw it up, and he went and got it.”
“I’d been asking them to throw a deep ball all night because I feel like I have a good chance of getting those,” Martin said. “He just needed to throw it so I could run under it. He did just that.”
Riding the momentum the defense forced a punt, and West had the ball in great field position. But West tried a trick play with Martin trying to pass deep, and it was intercepted. Muscatine turned that miscue into seven points thanks to a 74-yard pass to a wide-open Greenhaw that set up a one-yard plunge.
With Muscatine ahead again 27-24, West’s offensive line again took control.
“We don’t get too up; we don’t get too down; we know that our offense can score against just about anybody,” Flitz said.
West drove 77 yards in 12 plays, 10 of which were runs, for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:49 left in the game.
The resilient Muskies had one last drive in them and converted a fourth-and-four at the 50 with another pass to a wide-open Greenhaw. They eventually reached the West 27 and had fourth-and-two. Rather than give the ball to the reliable Alphonso Soko-Ouoie, who rushed for 120 yards, they tried a play-action pass with a fake to Soko. But Jeremy Brown, who was burned earlier by Greenhaw, batted the ball down, and West took over.
Huff rushed for 119 yards, his second game of more than 100 yards. Flitz connected on 19-of-28 passes for 208 yards. He threw to eight different receivers, including himself as he fielded a ball batted up into the air. Martin caught eight for 108 yards.
“We got contributions from everybody,” Hartwig said.
Iowa City West 7 3 14 7 – 31
Muscatine 0 20 0 7 – 27
ICW – Andre White 1 run (Lucas Karwal kick)
MUS – Alphonso Soko-Ouoie 23 run (Logan Nugent kick)
ICW – Karwal 27 field goal
MUS – Drew Greenhaw 45 pass from Luke Wichers (kick failed)
MUS – Soko 11 run (Nugent kick)
ICW – Evan Flitz 2 run (Karwal kick)
ICW – Oliver Martin 40 pass from Flitz (Karwal kick)
MUS – Jackson Foulk 1 run (Nugent kick)
ICW – Matthew Huff 3 run (Karwal kick)
First downs 19 17
Rushing-yards 43-183 27-134
Comp-Att-Int 19-29-1 21-25-1
Passing-yards 208 297
Punts-avg. 2-51 2-41
Fumbles-lost 0-0 0-0
Penalties-yards 7-43.5 6-45
Rushing – ICW, Matthew Huff 22-119, Evan Flitz 8-38, Andre White 5-10, Oliver Martin 3-10, Breyton McDole 2-6, team 3-0; MUS, Alphonso Soko-Ouoie 23-120, Drew Greenhaw 1-9, Jackson Foulk 2-9, Luke Wichers 1-(-4).
Passing – ICW, Evan Flitz 19-28-0-208, Oliver Martin 0-1-1-0; MUS, Luke Wichers 21-25-1-297.
Receiving – ICW, Oliver Martin 8-108, Traevis Buchanan 2-30, Parris Taylor 2-25, Austin West 2-18, Dillon Doyle 1-15, Devontae Lane 2-13, Matthew Huff 1-0, Evan Flitz 1-(-1); MUS, Drew Greenhaw 13-231, Logan Nugent 1-20, Benjamin Sweere 1-13, Alphonso Soko 3-12, Noland Osland 1-11, David Summers 2-10.