Photo by Rob Howe
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – The game had ended 50 minutes earlier, but the lights still illuminated Trojan Field.
Out on the artificial surface a handful of figures sat, stretched or wandered.
Several members of the West High football team lingered knowing this was their last go-round on their home turf.
Bettendorf had seen to that with a 43-28 Class 4A quarterfinal victory Friday.
The fourth-ranked Bulldogs (10-1) advance to play defending champion West Des Moines Dowling in the semifinals.
The sixth-ranked Trojans finished the season as district champs with a 9-2 record, both losses coming to the Bulldogs. But after having been in the state championship game the last two seasons you couldn’t help sense the disappointment.
“I think the game was closer than the score indicated,” West coach Garrett Hartwig said. “A few plays here or there, and who knows what happens. We fell short tonight. If we play tomorrow the ball might bounce our way.”
West High rolled early to an 11-0 lead in the first quarter after an 80-yard, five-play touchdown drive and a 43-yard field goal by Josh Jasek following a Cole Mabry fumble recovery.
But West didn’t score again until another Jasek field goal late in the third period. By that time the Trojans trailed 29-11.
“They were hitting on all cylinders,” Hartwig said. “They converted on third and fourth down in the first half, and those are just back-breaking plays.”
Offensively West struggled with dropped passes and missed receivers. West quarterback Marcus Morgan completed only 4-of-16 first-half passes. He finished with 14 completions for 245 yards and one interception.
“We had them scouted completely,” Morgan said. “We felt confident knowing what they were going to do. It was just mistakes, shooting ourselves in the foot.
“Really tonight was just a lack of execution on the offensive side.”
Hartwig thought West’s offense may have had trouble maintaining any rhythm because it was hard to get Bettendorf’s offense off the field.
Bettendorf scored touchdowns on three of its next four drives after West had taken the 11-0 lead and led 22-11 at halftime.
West tried an onside kick to start the second half.
The ball bounded high toward the sideline, and it appeared West’s Graham Goering leaped and snatched the ball out of the air. But the officials ruled it was Bettendorf’s ball and penalized West 15 yards, setting the Bulldogs up on the West 45.
“I was told, I guess I needed to understand the rule more clearly, you are not allowed to kick the ball directly into the ground to pop it up and you’re not allowed to kick the ball into the air and catch it,” Hartwig said. “I guess I just don’t know how you’re supposed to handle an onside kick. Yeah, that would have been big for us.”
While the Bulldogs didn’t score on that drive, missing a 40-yard field goal, they drove 59 yards for a TD on their next possession with Carter Bell connecting on passes of 39 and 25 yards to Darien Porter.
Bell passed for 169 yards and ran for another 53. Porter caught seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Austin Kalar rushed for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries.
“They were really good in their passing game,” West senior Landon Green said. “We couldn’t really stop that. The third-and-long, we just really couldn’t stop that. That was the biggest thing.”
The Bulldogs used their speed to get receivers free, and the offensive line gave Bell time to find them.
He was also able to buy time by rolling out and knew when to get rid of the ball to avoid a sack.
Kalar’s speed helped him get into the secondary routinely.
West High tried vainly to catch up in the fourth quarter, but when it would get within two scores Bettendorf answered.
Once it was on an interception return for a TD and another time it came on an 80-yard bolt up the middle by Kalar.
“We just beat ourselves,” Green said. “We should have beaten that team. With penalties and just not playing up to our potential.”
Morgan, a sophomore, took over the quarterbacking duties in the third game and proved to be an impact player.
He will be a key to the Trojans’ success the next two seasons. But he tipped his helmet to this year’s senior class.
“The seniors got this program to where it’s at,” he said. “I love every one of them. They’re my brothers.”
First downs 17 24
Rushing-yards 38-255 38-172
Comp-att-int 10-18-0 14-39-1
Passing-yards 169 245
Punts-avg. 3-33.3 3-35
Fumbles-lost 1-1 3-1
Penalties-yards 9-62.5 4-36.5
ICW – Tate Crane 2 pass from Marcus Morgan (Justin Thomas run)
ICW – Josh Jasek 43 field goal
BET – Darien Porter 36 pass from Carter Bell (Austin Kaler run)
BET – Kaler 3 run (Keegan Schmidt kick)
BET – Bell 1 run (Schmidt kick)
BET – Porter 25 pass from Bell (Schmidt kick)
ICW – Jasek 25 field goal
BET – Brandan Tillman 42 pass interception (Schmidt kick)
ICW – Jalen Gaudet 28 pass from Morgan (Jasek kick)
BET – Kaler 80 run (Schmidt kick)
ICW – Landon Green 1 run (Jasek kick)
RUSHING – BET: Austin Kalar 21-191, Carter Bell 15-53, Brandan Tillman 1-6, Darien Porter 1-5. ICW: Marcus Morgan 20-112, Peter Breitbach 9-45, Landon Green 7-14, Cole Mabry 1-1, Justin Thomas 1-0.
PASSING – BET: Carter Bell 10-18-0 169. ICW: Marcus Morgan 14-39-1 245.
RECEIVING – BET: Porter 7-119, Brandan Tillman 2-30, Noah Abbott 1-20. ICW: Jalen Gaudet 5-169, Cole Mabry 2-33, Justin Thomas 3-26, Tate Crane 2-9, Peter Breitbach 1-8.