Van Meter traveled two and a half hours north for their first road game in four weeks to take on the #6 Denver Cyclones. However, the Bulldogs wouldn’t let their first road game since Week #7 of the regular season affect them as the winner would earn a trip to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls and the IHSAA State Semifinals. Denver was seeking their 4th consecutive trip to the Dome while the Bulldogs were looking for their 3rd straight trip, so both teams were familiar with these circumstances and what was at stake.
Van Meter jumped to an early lead following an interception by JJ Durflinger on Denver’s third play of the game. Durflinger returned it to the Denver 23 yard line and 6 plays later Carson Rhodes carried it across from 5 yards out for his first TD of the game. So with only 2:49 gone in the game, Van Meter held a 6-0 lead following a missed PAT.
Denver responded with a drive of their own as they marched 65 yards on 11 plays with their QB, Sam Joerger, tucking it across the goal line for a 2 yard touchdown run. However, the ensuing PAT was blocked by Derek Golwitzer so we were all tied up 6-6 and it appeared at that point it might be a back and forth contest the entire night. The teams exchanged punts on their next possessions with Denver pinning the Bulldogs on their own 3 yard line as the 2nd quarter began.
Van Meter then took control of the momentum with a 97 yard bomb on the Bulldogs very first play from scrimmage as Blake Fryar hit Anthony Lowman in stride for the TD pass. Sam Bardwell tacked on the extra point and Van Meter lead 13-6. Van Meter’s defense began to find it’s rhythm as well as they again forced the Cyclones to punt on their next possession. The Bulldogs found themselves in less than desirable field position at their own 18 yard line. However, Van Meter’s offensive line began to control the line of scrimmage as the offense executed a nearly flawless 82 yard drive in 14 plays. The drive was capped with another Fryar to Lowman scoring pass from 5 yards out with only 14 seconds remaining in the 1st half. Another Bardwell PAT was good, so the Bulldogs entered halftime with a 20-6 lead.
The 2nd half began much the way the 1st half ended. Following an exchange of punts by both teams, with the Bulldog defense limiting Denver to -6 yards on their first three plays of the half, Van Meter took over on their own 8 yard line. The Bulldogs again proceeded to execute a stellar 92 yard drive on 16 plays that consumed 6:26 of the 3rd quarter. This time Rhodes found the end zone for the second time in the game on a 9 yard run behind excellent team blocking. Bardwell again made the PAT and the Bulldogs had a commanding 27-6 lead with 1:42 to play in the 3rd quarter.
The Bulldogs continued to control the 4th quarter as Denver’s best scoring chances didn’t occur until their final two drives. However, Sam Thompson ended the first with a 6 yard sack on 4th and 5 from the Bulldog 15 yard line. The Cyclones final drive of the night ended with Chris Reames and Derek Golwitzer combining on a tackle for a short gain by the Denver QB at the Van Meter 15. Van Meter lined up to take a knee on the next play and the Bulldogs had secured a hard-fought victory over a very good Denver team.
The Bulldog offense was clicking all night as they rushed for 212 yards (194 by Rhodes on 30 carries) and threw for 160 yards (Lowman had 143 receiving on 5 catches). Van Meter almost doubled up the Cyclones in total yardage (Van Meter – 372 yards / Denver – 193 yards) which is a credit to both the offense and defense for the Bulldogs. Van Meter played a very complete game and looks forward to moving on to the final four in the IHSAA playoffs.
Van Meter’s defensive leaders for the game included:
Connor Guess – 7 Solo Tackles, 7 Asst Tackles (including 1 Solo TFL)
Owen Crawford – 6 Solo Tackles, 6 Asst Tackles (including 1 Solo Sack)
Sam Thompson – 4 Solo Tackles, 3 Asst Tackles (including 1 Solo Sack & 1 Solo TFL)
Chris Reames – 3 Solo Tackles, 6 Asst Tackles
Derek Golwitzer – 1 Solo Tackle, 7 Asst Tackles
JJ Durflinger – 1 Solo Tackle & 1 INT
Please click on the following link for complete offensive and defensive stats from the game: Van Meter 27 – Denver 6 (Game Stats)
Van Meter (11-0) will now play the West Lyon Wildcats (11-0) in the Semifinal Round at the UNI-Dome this Saturday, November 11th at 1:06 PM. West Lyon is the champion of Class 1A District #1 while the Bulldogs were the champions of Class 1A District #6.
Come on out and support your Bulldogs!
Please follow us on Twitter: @VMFootball_