West High players celebrate their win over Bettendorf on Friday. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports.By Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
BETTENDORF – Oliver Martin has gathered in more than his share of footballs in his spectacular receiving career, but his favorite might be one that never got off the ground.
Martin pounced on a Bettendorf fumble and cradled it with less than a minute left to give West High a thrilling 24-17 upset over the fifth-ranked Bulldogs at TouVelle Stadium.
“My job on the last play was to cover the slot receiver,” Martin said. “I was really focused on doing my job covering him. I saw they gave it to the running back up the middle. I saw the ball pop out, and I knew if I recovered it the game was over.
“It was the best feeling ever because I knew we won the game. We’re going to keep going in the playoffs.”
The West sideline and stands erupted.
“It was crazy,” quarterback Evan Flitz said. “We were all really excited that this was going to happen. It’s an incredible feeling for teammates to celebrate that moment.”
West (8-2) plays at sixth-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie (9-1) next Friday in the quarterfinals. Prairie won the regular-season game between the two teams, 39-20.
West had taken a 24-17 lead with a touchdown with just 4:19 left in the game. That score was set up when junior linebacker Trumell Roberts ripped the ball out of the hands of a Bulldog receiver near midfield and returned it to the Bettendorf 37.
West High’s Dillon Shephard defends a pass Friday. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports
“I dropped in to (coverage) like we normally do, and I just saw the opportunity,” Roberts said. “I just ripped it out of there. We drill on it in practice. I wasn’t thinking about it too hard, I was just playing football.”
“That was a huge play in deciding the outcome of the game,” Martin said. “It changed possession and gave us a ton of momentum.”
The Trojans, having fully opened the playbook all game long, pulled out a flea flicker. Quarterback Flitz handed off to Devontae Lane. Lane pitched it back to Flitz, and Flitz threw to a streaking Martin down the middle of the field. He was tackled at the Bulldog 3.
“That’s just a fun play we run every now and again,” Flitz said. “Coach said to take a shot with the game kind of at the breaking point. Oliver ran a great post, and I got it to him.
“We’re a big-play threat every time we touch the ball. It was about giving them different looks.”
West scored on a screen pass to Lane with a key block delivered by Austin West. The kickoff went into the end zone, so Bettendorf had to drive 80 yards in 4:19 to try to tie the game.
“We were looking for some tricky stuff,” West linebacker Max Brown said. “We were looking for a ball down deep and some screens. They started to drive toward the end, but we knew if we just kept hitting them hard and gutting it out it was going to go our way.”
Bettendorf moved to the West 45 with 1:21 left. Dillon Doyle saved a likely touchdown on the next play, stripping the receiver who had gotten behind the secondary deep. The Bulldogs moved to the
West 37 with just less than a minute left and handed the ball to workhorse back Keegan Glaus. After getting hit at the line of scrimmage, the ball popped away, and Martin recovered. All West had to do was take a knee.
“We just played with heart,” Brown said. “We knew it was going to be a tough game, and we thought about it all week. Our D-line was motivated, and our linebackers were motivated. We just really wanted to play Bettendorf. We’ve had a lot of difficulty with this team in the past, but now it’s a rivalry.”
Bettendorf (7-3) took the opening kickoff and drove 61 yards for a touchdown, but West answered.
With a third-and-eight on their own 26 the Trojans pulled a play out of their bag of tricks. Lane, the running back, passed 64 yards to an open Traevis Buchanan behind the defense to reach the Bulldog 10. Flitz passed to Martin in the corner of the end zone on the next play to tie the game.
Bettendorf put together an 80-yard drive in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead. West responded with a long drive, but it stalled when the Trojans were unable to punch it in after three plays from the 1-yard line.
Despite that the Trojans were undeterred at halftime.
Devontae Lane celebrates on Friday. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports.
“I don’t think any of us were down; we just had to get that extra push to get it in there,” Brown said. “I wasn’t worried at all. None of us were down. Coach told us to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and we knew the game was going to go our way.”
West took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 80 yards for a tying TD. The key play was a 66-yard pass from Flitz to a wide open Austin West.
West had run a similar pattern in the waning seconds of the first half and was wide open behind the defense, but Flitz hadn’t seen him.
This time the connection was good to the Bettendorf 2-yard line. Flitz later scored on a keeper to tie it at 14.
“It was good to get the momentum back and it was a huge confidence boost,” Martin said of the drive.
The teams then exchanged field goals to set up the drama in the final quarter.
Bettendorf’s previous two losses were to No. 1 Valley and No. 4 Cedar Rapids Washington. The Bulldogs came in averaging 36 points and 390 yards per game. West’s defense held them to 17 and 252.
West High 7 0 10 7 – 24
Bettendorf 7 7 0 3 – 17
BET – Suni Lane 23 pass from J. Michael Young (Seth Ward kick)
ICW – Oliver Martin 10 pass from Evan Flitz (Lucas Karwal kick)
BET – Keegan Glaus 2 run (Ward kick)
ICW – Flitz 1 run (Karwal kick)
ICW – Karwal 20 field goal
BET – Ward 33 field goal
ICW – Devontae Lane 6 pass from Flitz (Karwal kick)
First downs 16 17
Rushing-yards 34-73 35-159
Comp-att-int 15-20-0 11-16-0
Passing-yards 283 93
Punts-avg. 2-30.5 3-25
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-2
Penalties-yards 3-41 6-69.5
Rushing – ICW: Devontae Lane 14-56, Andre White 4-12, Cole Mabry 3-9, Evan Flitz 11-(-1), Breyton McDole 1-(-1), Oliver Martin 1-(-2) ; BETT:: Keegan Glaus 21-108, J. Michael Young 14-51.
Passing – ICW: Evan Flitz 14-19-0-219, Devontae Lane 1-1-0-64; BETT: J. Michael Young 11-16-0-93.
Receiving – ICW: Traevis Buchanan 5-130, Oliver Martin 7-70, Austin West 1-66, Devontae Lane 2-17; BETT: Suni Lane 6-59, Jaron Shook 2-18, Ben Wilson 2-8, Keegan Glaus 1-7.