Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The big rivalry game between Regina and West Branch was not a thing of beauty.
Most games have a flow to them even if momentum switches sides at times. But this one had a flow that Roto-Rooter would be called in to de-sludge.
But it didn’t seem to matter to Regina’s players, who finished on the high side of a 26-8 score.
“It was a great game,” a delighted Levi Daniel said. “They are a very good team. It’s always been Regina-West Branch head on. It was a fun game; I enjoyed playing in it.”
The Regals clinched the 1A district 5 championship, improving to 7-0 and 4-0.
The Bears are 5-2 and 3-1 with a game remaining against Durant.
The game started with Regina’s first snap from scrimmage sailing over quarterback Jack Tierney’s head.
The Bears were in hot pursuit as Tierney tried to corral the ball. It ended up in the end zone and was ruled a safety.
Bears coach Butch Pedersen thought his side had a touchdown.
That was just the start.
The game included 18 penalties, one that wiped away a 78-yard West Branch touchdown on a screen pass in which Andy Henson broke about six tackles.
The officials huddled over calls more than both teams combined.
Regina, which might have been rusty after not playing last week, used nearly all its timeouts in both halves just to avoid delay-of-game penalties.
“I don’t think it was a function of us not playing last week,” Daniel said. “We weren’t as mentally prepared, and we just made some mistakes that we’re going to fix in the future, but I think the boys did a really good job tonight pushing the line.”
The teams combined for three fumbles and two interceptions.
West Branch tackle Drake Berry scooped up a Regina fumble and rambled 15 yards into the end zone for a TD to give the Bears an 8-6 lead in the first quarter.
“I think as a team we weren’t mentally prepared at the beginning, but as the night went on we locked it in,” Daniel said. “We wanted to win.”
The Bears had eight points early, but the offense was shut out by the Regina defense.
The Regals put together two 80-yard touchdown drives in the first half as their offensive line took control.
The drives were capped by Daniel scoring on an 18-yard run, and Carson Jensen scoring on a beautiful 44-yard post pass from Tierney.
Then Regina drove a mere 78 yards for its third TD of the half, with Daniel taking a screen pass the final 27 yards.
Leading 20-8 at half didn’t seem comfortable, but Regina’s defense shut down West Branch.
The Bears were held to 94 yards rushing and 35 passing. They came in averaging 254 yards per game. They had one first down in the first half and finished with seven.
“We do a bunch of stunts inside to try to get them flustered,” tackle Josh Gaffey said. “The outside guys did their jobs and forced it all up to us. We felt like there were three main formations we focused on, and we executed.”
Gaffey, a two-way workhorse on the line, also intercepted a pass to halt a rare Bears drive inside Regina territory in the second half.
“Thanks to Andy (Wiese) it was possible,” Gaffey said. “I just saw (the ball) right there and I got it.”
“It went right through my hands,” Wiese said.
Meanwhile Daniel had his usual productive night with 158 yards rushing and 54 receiving. Tierney added 84 yards on the ground.
“They’re so good; they’re so good,” Daniel said of the offensive line. “They’re big, they push really hard, and they give me wide gaps.”
West Branch’s Pedersen told his players that next week’s game against Wilton should be their focus. The Bears are the likely district runner-up and thus a playoff qualifier, but he didn’t want them dwelling on this result.
“It was hard hitting; it was a physical West Branch-Regina game,” he said. “This is a young football team, and we didn’t think we’d be in this position playing for a district championship. Are we satisfied? No. But we’re going to keep working to get better, and I’m very proud of this football team.”
Again, as odd as this game was, it appealed to certain folks dressed in blue.
“It was super fun,” Wiese said.
First downs 7 15
Rushing-yards 28-94 41-258
Comp-att-int 7-18-1 4-17-1
Passing-yards 35 101
Punts-avg. 5-39 3-30
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1
Penalties-yards 8-63.5 10-95
West Branch 8 0 0 0 – 8
Regina 6 14 6 0 – 26
WB – Safety (quarterback tackled in end zone)
ICR – Levi Daniel 18 run (run failed)
WB – Berry 15 fumble recovery (run failed)
ICR – Carson Jensen 44 pass from Jack Tierney (Andrew Deninger kick)
ICR – Daniel 22 pass (Deninger kick)
ICR – Daniel 29 run (Kick failed)
RUSHING – West Branch: Andy Henson 14-49, Carver Boelk 11-33, Wyatt Fiderlein 2-9, Peyton Miller 1-3. Regina: Levi Daniel 21-158, Jack Tierney 17-84, Chris Waikel 2-10, Carson Jensen 1-6.
PASSING – West Branch: Carver Boelk 7-18-1-35. Regina: Jack Tierney 4-17-1-101, Sam Aitchison 0-1-0-0
RECEIVING – West Branch: Henson 3-17, Kinnick Boelk 2-14, Miller 1-2, Fiderlein 1-2. Regina: Daniel 2-54, Jensen 1-44, Aitchison 2-3.