Jack Jensen intercepts a pass in the fourth quarter on Friday against Pella Christian. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep SportsBy Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Jack Jensen let his first chance to send Regina back to the UNI-Dome slip through his fingers.
Jensen wasn’t about to let the second opportunity out of his grasp.
A diving interception by Jensen with under a minute to play allowed top-ranked Regina to escape with a 45-43 win over second-ranked Pella Christian (10-1) on Friday in a Class 1A quarterfinal at Regal Field.
“I saw the roll out and I saw my guy run a come back and I came down on it and jumped it,” Jensen said of the interception. “It was awesome. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.”
The late interception by Jensen came after the senior let a potential game-clinching touchdown grab slip through his hands on the previous Regina possession.
Jensen more than made up for the dropped pass with his third interception of the game, a diving grab inside the Regal 30 yard line that stopped a furious Pella Christian rally and sent Regina (10-1) back to the semifinals for the seventh straight season.
Regina will face third-ranked Denver (11-0) in the 1A semifinals at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Nov. 12 at 10:06 a.m.
“I was pretty mad but I knew there was three minutes left and we had time to make play,” Jensen said. “It motivated me a lot, I was pretty made so I had to come back and do something for the team.”
Isaac Vollstedt rushed for 187 yards and three touchdowns and junior quarterback Michael Conlon added 124 yards rushing and a score as Regina ran its winning streak to 10 straight with its 32 consecutive postseason win.
It didn’t come easy as Pella Christian got 375 yards passing from senior quarterback David Kacmarynski and scored on its first four possessions of the second half to trim a 21-point Regina lead to 45-43.
Michael Conlon runs against Pella Christian. Jeff Yoder for Your Prep Sports.
“I take my hat off to Pella Christian they are a phenomenal team,” Regina coach Marv Cook said. “Coach Kacmarynski does a great job and his son (David) and the (Levi) Jungling kid are phenomenal football players. They didn’t have any weaknesses, we tried to exploit things and it was a great football game.”
The Eagles had a chance to end Regina’s quest for a seventh straight state title on its final drive.
Pella Christian converted a third-and-10 from its own 19 yard line with a 20-yard pass from Kacmarynski to Jungling.
The Eagles had a first down at the Regina 43 yard line with a under a minute to play when Jensen stepped in front of Graham Howerzyl for the fifth Regina interception of the game.
“It was a great way for him to finish it off,” Cook said of Jensen. “I know he felt bad but it’s football. He came back and made a play.”
It looked several times like Regina was on the verge of putting the game away.
Regina scored 21 unanswered points in the first half, taking a 28-7 lead on a 39-yard strike from Conlon to Jensen with 1:01 left in the second quarter.
Pella answered with a touchdown of its own before the break.
Jungling returned the ensuing kickoff to the Regina 41 yard line and Kacmarynski found Hayden Vroom for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 20 seconds left in the quarter to pull Pella Christian within 28-14 at the half.
“We made a lot of plays in the first half and I thought we had a chance to really kind of put them away and we didn’t,” Cook said. “They showed what a great team will do is they came back and had a chance to win late so to me it’s a classic football game.”
The second half was back and forth with the offenses controlling the game.
The teams traded touchdowns until Pella Christian came up with the first defensive stop of the half.
Isaac Vollstedt runs against Pella Christian. Jeff Yoder for Your Prep Sports.
Kacmarynski hit Jungling for a 55-yard touchdown pass on the first play following a Regina punt to pull the Eagles to within one score with 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
Regina answered with a 15-play drive that took more than six minutes off the clock and ended with a 22 yard Sam Stein field goal that put Regina up 45-35 with 5:48 left.
The Regals ran the ball 11 times on the drive that ended with Stein’s field goal and finished with 318 yards on the ground.
“We knew they were a well-coached team and they played hard so we knew we were going to have to play our football to do what we needed to do,” Conlon said. “We wanted to try to grind out some yards and we did that.”
Pella Christian answered quickly with a 9-play, 72-yard touchdown drive that ended with an 8-yard run by Kacmarynski.
Kacmarynski ran in the two-point conversion to cut the Regina lead to 45-43 with 3:26 left.
Regina had a chance to put the game away when Conlon found Jensen streaking down the middle of the field on a third-and-eight play but the ball bounced off his hands.
The incompletion forced Regina to punt with just more than three minutes to play.
Just two minutes later Jensen got redemption picking off Kacmarynski for the third time to clinch the game.
“I had total trust in Jack, I knew that wasn’t going to stop him,” Conlon said. “I knew he would have a short memory and he came back and make a play.”
Kacmarynski and Jungling were both exceptional for a Pella Christian offense that entered leading 1A in points and total yards.
The all-time leading receiver in Iowa history, Jungling caught nine passes for 146 yards and a score and also ran for a touchdown.
Kacmarynski threw for 375 and four touchdowns and added 84 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“We knew that they were really quick, Jungling and Kacmarynski are good athletes, they are studs, they can make plays any time and we knew we had to concentrate on them,” Jensen said. “Those guys were great players and we just made enough plays.”
Conlon threw for 164 yards and a touchdown with Jensen catching six passes for 99 yards as Regina held a 482 to 477 advantage in total yards.
“We knew they were going to be a talented team and they were as good as advertised obviously,” Cook said. “It was really a classic game.”
Regina Pella Christian
First downs 23 22
Rushes-yards 62-318 29-102
Passing yards 164 375
Total yards 482 477
Comp-att-int 9-17-1 19-40-5
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-0
Penalties-yards 10-85 5-35
Regina 14 14 14 3 – 45
Pella Christian 7 7 21 8 – 43
ICR – Isaac Vollstedt 1 run (Sam Stein kick)
PC – Miles Wichhart 40 pass from David Kacmarynski (Nathan De Bruin kick)
ICR – Jake Phillips 2 run (Stein kick)
ICR – Isaac Vollstedt 2 run (Stein kick)
ICR – Jensen 39 pass from Michael Conlon (Stein kick)
PC – Hayden Vroom 29 pass from Kacmarynski (De Bruin kick)
ICR – Conlon 25 run (Stein kick)
PC – Caleb Rouse 37 pass from Kacmarynski (De Bruin kick)
ICR – Vollstedt 28 run (Stein kick)
PC – Levi Jungling 5 run (De Bruin kick)
PC – Jungling 55 pass (De Bruin kick)
ICR – Stein 22 field goal
PC – Kacmarynski 8 run (Kacmarynski run)
Rushing – ICR: Isaac Vollstedt 40-187, Michael Conlon 17-124, Jake Phillips 4-10, Team 1-(-3). PC: David Kacmarynski 16-84, Levi Jungling 5-19, Miles Wichhart 7-13, Team 1-(-14).
Passing – ICR: Michael Conlon 9-17-1 164. PC: David Kacmarynski 19-40-5 375.
Receiving – ICR: Jack Jensen 6-99, Trae Rogers 1-22, Isaac Vollstedt 1-20, Noah Felderman 1-4. PC: Levi Jungling 9-146, Hayden Vroom 4-101, Caleb Rouse 2-53, Miles Wichhart 2-49, Graham Howerzyl 2-26.