Michael Conlon passes to Noah Felderman against Pella Christian. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
CEDAR FALLS – It was billed as a battle of two of the top running teams in Class 1A.
The Class 1A semifinal between Regina and Denver was supposed to be a grind it out grudge match won in the trenches.
Instead the Regals turned it into a track meet.
Top-ranked Regina passed for a season-high 285 yards and had three touchdown passes longer than 20 yards in a 42-6 win over the third-ranked Cyclones.
“We knew coming in that they were big up front so running the ball might not work the best,” Regina senior receiver Trae Rogers said. “We had to make up for that passing and I think we did that pretty well.”
A week after rushing for 343 yards in a quarterfinal win over second-ranked Pella Christian, Regina gave a demonstration on how balanced its offense can be.
Junior quarterback Michael Conlon competed 16-of-24 passes for a career-high 285 yards and three touchdowns.
Regina rushed for more than 200 yards for the third straight game on its way to 494 total yards against a Denver defense that entered the semifinals holding opponents to 201 yards per game.
“We thought we could move the ball with both running and passing, just whatever was working,” Conlon said. “It turned out that we could do both.”
Michael Conlon runs against Pella Christian. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports.
Conlon was a big part of the Regina offensive success on Saturday.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Conlon set or matched career highs in attempts, completions, passing yards and touchdowns and added 25 yards rushing and a touchdown while accounting for better than 300 yards of total offense and four scores.
“I looked forward to spreading it out like that,” Conlon said. “I’m confident with our line and our receivers and I know we have guys that can make plays.”
Regina was just balanced in its play calling the Regals were as even in their distribution.
Conlon threw touchdown passes to three different players as seven different Regals caught passes.
Senior Jack Jensen led the way with six receptions for 96 yards including a 72-yard touchdown grab that started the scoring.
I think since we do a lot we are pretty balanced,” Jensen said. “We can be hard to figure out.”
Rogers caught four passes for 72 yards including a 21-yard touchdown grab while Noah Felderman caught a pair of passes for 62 yards and had a 49-yard scoring catch on a double reverse pass.
“We wanted to get them out space,” Felderman said. “That opens up the running game too with less people in the box so we can do what we do up front.”
Playing against a big Denver defensive front Regina showed early it was comfortable spreading the field.
Conlon completed eight of his first 11 passes with completions for 40 yards to Rogers, 49 to Felderman on the reverse pass and 72 to Jensen on a short hitch that the senior receiver turned into a long catch and run.
They are big up front and they held up and we struggled early so we wanted to try to get on the edges and force them to defend on different angles,” Regina coach Marv Cook said. “We were able to make some big plays.”