Your Prep Sports
A football game that had all the makings of a classic matchup on paper lived up to the hype on the field as Regina held on to defeat Class 2A third-ranked Clear Lake 21-20 on Friday at Lion Field in Clear Lake.
The outcome wasn’t decided until Clear Lake failed to convert on a two-point conversion in the final minute.
Regina trailed 6-0 at halftime, but then scored one touchdown in the third quarter and two in the fourth to take a 21-6 lead.
The Regals, who are ranked third in Class A, then had to withstand two late touchdowns by Clear Lake to escape with is first victory of the season.
Regina head coach Marv Cook praised his team for responding under difficult circumstances, which included a 175-mile road trip from Iowa City to Clear Lake.
Both teams only had two days to prepare for Friday’s game, which was scheduled on Wednesday after the opponents for both teams had to cancel due to health concerns with COVID-19.
Regina was scheduled to face Mid-Prairie in Wellman on Friday, while Clear Lake was originally slated to play Osage.
“You go on the road, you’re playing a highly ranked 2A school on the road, a three-hour bus ride, our kids just answered the bell,” Cook said. “We started preparing on Wednesday for them.”
Regina failed to convert on fourth down near midfield late in the second quarter.
However, the Regal defense kept Clear Lake from scoring, and that gave Regina some much-needed momentum heading into the third quarter.
“We didn’t play really well in the first half,” Cook said. “It was 6-0 at halftime, and thank goodness our defense when we didn’t convert on a batted ball, our defense shut them down and didn’t let them score and that was huge for us because then we came out in the third and actually got our offense going a little bit.”
Cook had high praise for senior running back Theo Kolie, who rushed for 103 yards on 22 carries. Kolie also scored Regina’s second touchdown on an 8-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“Theo Kolie, I call him the trifecta of the running backs, was phenomenal, running blocking,” Cook said. “I mean really workman yards, tough running and finishing runs.
“His blitz pickup protection was amazing. He’s playing at an incredibly high level for us right now.”
Clear Lake scored its third and final touchdown with 55 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, trimming the deficit to 21-20.
Clear Lake tried to run inside on the two-point conversion, but the play was stopped by defensive linemen Nick Wagner and Josh Gaffey.
Regina then ran out the clock to improve to 1-1 on the season.
“They tried like an inside power deal and Gaffey and Nick Wagner both converged on it and got a stop at the one-yard line,” Cook said. “And then we were able to run the clock out.”
One of the subplots to Friday’s game was the matchup between both head coaches.
Cook and Clear Lake head coach Jared DeVries were both consensus All-America football players under Hayden Fry at Iowa before having success in the NFL.
Cook played tight end at Iowa from 1984-88, while DeVries played on the Iowa defensive line from 1995-98.
The two Hawkeye legends shared a moment at midfield after the game.
“I just told him thanks for taking the game and it was great hospitality,” Cook said. “They offered to help us pay for our charters.”
Regina has had to find new opponents on short notice for its first two games due to health concerns with COVID-19. The Regals only had two days to prepare for Class 4A Pleasant Valley in the season opener last Friday and lost 45-13 at Regina.
Cook thinks the level of competition will help his team as the season progresses.
Clear Lake has qualified for the playoffs 22 times and went 10-1 and reached the 2A quarterfinals last season.
“You can’t recreate it,” Cook said. “You can practice as hard as you want, but until you’re tested, it was 48 minutes, I mean just constant, they were pressuring us. Their defense was pressuring us with press coverage and bringing blitzes and just bringing all kinds of pressure, which was causing a little bit of an issue protection wise.”
Regina quarterback Ashton Cook, who is Marv Cook’s son, threw touchdown passes to Levi Quinlan in the third quarter and to Alec Wick in the fourth that covered three and 39 yards, respectively.
Wick finished with six catches for 139 yards, while Ashton Cook completed 14-of-29 passes for 193 yards.