The Van Meter Bulldogs squared off against the West Lyon Wildcats in a classic game that saw a little bit of everything. Both offenses showed they could sustain long, time consuming drives. Both defenses were tough and made the opposing teams earn everything while getting stops at critical moments in the game. However, the Bulldogs were able to execute a few more big plays and forced 2 Wildcat turnovers that proved to be a major factor in Van Meter pulling out the 35-21 victory in the IHSAA Class 1A Semifinals.
Van Meter received the opening kickoff and quickly established an excellent mix of run and pass plays on their first drive of the game. And just when it appeared the drive might stall deep in Wildcat territory, Blake Fryar hit Anthony Lowman with a perfectly thrown 21 yard pass on 4th down to put Van Meter on the scoreboard first. Sam Bardwell put the PAT through the uprights and the score was 7-0 with 5:54 left in the 1st quarter. West Lyon responded with a long drive of its own as they marched 71 yards in 11 plays as Jaden Snyder hit Dylan Snyders with the Wildcats own big play on 4th down for a 27 yard score. Following the PAT, the game was tied up 7-7 with only :33 remaining in the opening quarter of play.
The 2nd quarter had a very similar theme following a punt on Van Meter’s next possession. West Lyon started their second drive from their own 16 yard line and methodically executed 19 plays scoring on a 1 yard run by Monte Pottebaum. The drive consumed 9:04 of the second quarter. So just when it looked like West Lyon might enter half time up 14-7, the Bulldogs knew that they still had plenty of time to put together a drive of their own with 1:29 remaining on the clock. Van Meter started the drive at their own 35 yard line. The Bulldogs had thought they had tied the score on a long pass from Fryar to Jack Trudo, but it was nullified by an offensive pass interference penalty. On the very next play, West Lyon had their own costly penalty as they were flagged for a face mask on a sack that moved the ball to the Wildcat 28 yard line. From there, Fryar found Sam Thompson running free up the field for scoring strike with only 1 second remaining on the clock. Bardwell made the PAT and the score was knotted up at 14-14 at the half.
West Lyon got the opening possession of the 2nd half and went on yet another long march into Bulldog territory. However, this time the Van Meter defense stepped up and not only made a stop, but spun the momentum in the Bulldogs favor. On 3rd & 5 from the Van Meter 17 yard line, Connor Guess and Cameron Smolik blitzed in to start a chain reaction to bust up the Wildcat play. The pitch by the West Lyon quarterback couldn’t be secured by the RB as Cade Costlow was tackling him, so Lowman flew in and scooped up the fumble and returned it 75 yards for a 21-14 lead. The Wildcats didn’t let that get them down as they responded with a quick 5 play drive covering 60 yards to tie things up once again 21-21. As the 3rd quarter came to an end, the Bulldogs found themselves in a very similar situation to just 12 months earlier…entering the 4th quarter tied.
However, the Bulldogs owned the final frame in 2017, and with the first play of the 4th quarter, Fryar hit Lowman once again as he sprinted by the Wildcat secondary with a 83 yard touchdown pass. Following the PAT by Bardwell, the score was 28-21 and Van Meter had a lead they would not give up. The Bulldog defense stepped up the intensity and held the Wildcats scoreless in the final 12 minutes of the game. That allowed the Van Meter offense to put the final exclamation point on the game when Lowman took a handoff from Fryar around right end, but then pulled up to hit Jack Trudo with a perfectly thrown pass for a 75 yard catch and run. Bardwell again tacked on the extra point and the Bulldogs found themselves firming in control of the game with the score now 35-21. West Lyon made one more drive into Van Meter territory, but turned the ball over on downs. The Bulldog offense basically burned the final 6 minutes off the clock with a methodical drive behind excellent blocking in the offensive line and bruising running by Carson Rhodes.
And as the final seconds ticked off the clock, Van Meter found themselves moving on to the state championship game with a 35-21 victory over a very good and very physical West Lyon team.The Bulldog offense used a different script in the semifinals as they rolled up 307 yards passing along with 110 yards rushing for 417 total yards of offense. After carrying the ball 67 times in Van Meter’s first two playoff games, Rhodes was limited to 87 on 21 carries. This just meant Van Meter’s passing offense had openings to take advantage of as Blake Fryar was 18 for 20 for 232 yards passing with 3 TDs. The Bulldog defense did give up 21 points and 321 total yards to a very talented West Lyon offense. However, Van Meter’s defense only allowed 1 Wildcat touchdown in the 2nd half and West Lyon’s leading rusher could only hammer out 52 yards as the Bulldog defense became more stingy as the game went along.
Van Meter’s defensive leaders for the game included:
Sam Thompson – 7 Solo Tackles, 2 Asst Tackles
Connor Guess – 2 Solo Tackles, 6 Asst Tackles (including 1 Solo TFL)
Chris Reames – 3 Solo Tackles, 7 Asst Tackles (including 2 Solo TFL)
Anthony Lowman – 5 Solo Tackles, 4 Asst Tackles, 1 Fumble Recovery Returned for a TD
Owen Jones – 2 Solo Tackles, 1 Asst Tackle, 1 INT
Cade Costlow – 4 Solo Tackles, 2 Asst Tackles
Please click on the following link for complete offensive and defensive stats from the game: Van Meter 35 – West Lyon 21 (Game Stats)
Van Meter (12-0) plays Iowa City Regina (10-2) for the Class 1A State Championship at the UNI-Dome this Friday, November 17th at 11:00 AM. Iowa City Regina is the champion of Class 1A District #4 while the Bulldogs were the champions of Class 1A District #6.
Come on out and support your Bulldogs!
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