Oliver Marin runs after a reception in the 4A semifinals on Nov. 11. Jeff Yoder/For Your Prep Sports. By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
CEDAR FALLS – West High showed the last three weeks it could go blow for blow with any of the heavyweight programs in the state.
The Trojans proved it again in the first half of the Class 4A state title game on Friday night.
In the final two quarters West Des Moines Dowling showed why it’s the defending champ.
Jacob Zachary had 119 of his 194 rushing yards after halftime as second-ranked Dowling (12-1) claimed its fourth straight Class 4A title with a 23-10 win over West High at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
“It was a battle, just like we thought it would be,” West High senior Oliver Martin said. “They just made a few more plays than us in the end.”
West High (10-3) battled back from a 13-0 deficit less than nine minutes into the game and trailed just 16-10 at the half but could never get closer than three points.
The Trojans drove inside the Dowling 15 yard line three times but came away with just three points, including a turnover on downs inside the 10 in the third quarter.
“We had opportunities certainly on both sides of the ball to change the game and a good team like Dowling will take advantage of you if you don’t seize those opportunities,” West High coach Garrett Hartwig said. “They beat us.”
West High moved the ball against a Dowling defense that entered allowing just 215 yards per game.
The Trojans finished with 253 total yards but couldn’t find the end zone, failing to score an offensive touchdown for the first time this season.
“We drove the field we made stops we just didn’t quite execute and finish the drives,” Martin said. “We drove the whole field a number of times we just couldn’t finish.”
West High was on the ropes early.
Zachary scored two touchdowns in the first nine minutes of the game on runs of 1 and 2 yards to put Dowling up 13-0 less than nine minutes into the game.
The second touchdown for the 220-pound tailback came after a blocked punt set up the Maroons with a first and goal at the West High one.
“It’s just hard when you beat yourself up to start off the game,” West High senior Devontae Lane said. “Right off the bat we had a blocked punt and a fumble and it’s just hard to keep everyone’s head up when things are going so bad and so well for the other team.”
West High didn’t stay down for long.
After the second touchdown run of the game by Zachary with 3:17 left in the first quarter Martin returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a score to cut the lead to 13-7.
Martin took the kick and burst through a huge hole up the middle of the field, made one man miss and went untouched to the end zone to give West High momentum with 3:05 left in the first quarter.
“We discussed where the hole would be in practice and I looked there immediately and I saw it and I just tried to hit it as quick as I could,” Martin said. “Once I kind of broke through it I was just running as fast as I could.”
West High capitalized on the momentum forcing a three-and-out on defense and then putting together a 16-play, 59-yard drive that took more than seven minutes off the clock.
The Trojans couldn’t punch it after having a first and goal at the eight and settled for a 26 yard field goal from Lucas Karwal that cut the lead to 13-10 with 5:55 left in the opening half.
“Down 13-0 we just knew that we had to come back and there was just no other option than to come back and come together as a team,” West High senior offensive lineman Josh Van Roekel said. “We came back we just fell a little short in doing that.”
With momentum West High went for a big play and got it as Brennon Keen recovered an onside kick following the Karwal field goal. The Trojans had an opportunity to take the lead but lost a fumble inside the Dowling 15 yard line with under four minutes to play in the first half.
Dowling went 81 yards to the six year line and got a 23 yard field goal from Dallas McCarthy as time expired in the second quarter to go up 16-10 at halftime.
The Maroons then took control early in the third quarter.
West High started the second half with the ball but couldn’t muster more than one first down and Dowling quickly marched 52 yards in five plays going up 23-10 on an 8-yard touchdown run by Jason Murray.
“I thought we were going to come out in that second half and completely change the game around,” West High senior linebacker Max Brown said. “Dowling just came out with a little more force and just put the game away.”
West High appeared poised to answer on its ensuing possession putting together another long drive.
The Trojans marched 15 plays to the Dowling 2 yard line but on fourth down Lane was swarmed under after taking a short pass from Flitz.
“Physically they are very impressive and we knew that, there were no surprises out there,” Hartwig said. “They made plays when they needed to and we fell a few plays short.”
Flitz finished 22-of-29 passing for 196 yards for West High which had a seven-game winning streak snapped with the loss.
Lane rushed for 53 yards and caught a team-high nine passes for 60 yards.
“We proved that we could hang with anyone,” Van Roekel said. “We came back, we battled we just came up a little short.”
First downs 18 16
Rushes-yards 32-57 40-210
Passing yards 196 94
Total yards 253 304
Comp-att-int 22-29-0 8-12-0
Fumbles-lost 1-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 6-32 6-65
West High 7 3 0 0 – 10
Dowling 13 3 7 0 – 23
DOW – Jacob Zachary 1 run (Dallas McCarthy kick)
DOW – Zachary 2 run (Run failed)
ICW – Oliver Martin 85 kickoff return (Lucas Karwal kick)
ICW – Karwal 26 field goal
DOW – McCarthy 23 field goal
DOW – Jayson Murray 8 run (McCarthy kick)
Rushing – ICW: Devontae Lane 15-53, Cole Mabry 1-5, Austin West 2-3, Breyton McDole 2-2, Oliver Martin 1-(-3), Evan Flitz 11-(-3). DOW: Jacob Zachary 27-194, Jayson Murray 3-13, Cole Billings 3-12, Aaron Krah 3-11, Ben Wilson 2-(-10).
Passing – ICW: Evan Flitz 22-29-0 196. DOW: Ben Wilson 8-12-0 94.
Receiving – ICW: Devontae Lane 9-60, Traevis Buchanan 4-46, Oliver Martin 3-41, Austin West 3-34, Austin Geasland 1-7, Jason Strunk 1-4, Dillon Doyle 1-4. DOW: Cole Billings 3-36, Jack Koerner 2-37, Jayson Murray 2-11, Joe Lathrum 1-10.