Van Meter entered the 3rd Round of the 2020 IHSAA Class 1A Playoffs squaring off with another familiar opponent in Pella Christian. The Bulldogs last faced the Eagles in the 1st Round of the 2019 playoffs and came away with a 38-12 victory. In the 2019 game, Pella Christian would jump out to a 6-0 lead before Van Meter would score 38 unanswered points, so the Eagles knew how to start fast which they would do in an even bigger way in the 2020 match-up this past Friday night.
Pella Christian would receive the opening kickoff and on the very first offensive play of the game, they would hit a 65 yard touchdown pass to take a quick 7-0 lead. The Eagles would then execute an onside kick to secure another possession. However, the Bulldog defense would respond and force Pella Christian to punt after only 3 plays. The Van Meter offense would then march all the way to the Eagle 18 yard line before Pella Christian would intercept a pass and return it for another score and a 14-0 lead only 3:45 into the game.
The Eagles would keep the momentum as they would recover a fumble on the first play of Van Meter’s next possession that would set up Pella Christian on the Bulldog’s on 34 yard line. However, with their backs literally against a wall, Van Meter’s defense would get a key 4th down stop and give their offense a chance to get on track. That would be exactly what the offense would do from this point forward as the Bulldogs would march 73 yards in only 4 plays. On 3rd and 7, Jack Pettit would find Maddox Artzer on a big pass play for 62 yards. This would set up a touchdown run from 8 yards out for Pettit and following Will Gordon’s PAT the Eagle lead was cut in half to 14-7.
Pella Christian would drive all the way to Van Meter’s 11 yard line on their next drive before it would stall and the Bulldog defense would get yet another stop on a missed field goal by the Eagles. It again wouldn’t take long for the Van Meter offense to drive for a tying score as they would move 80 yards in only 5 plays with Pettit running it in from 24 yards out for his second TD of the game. Gordon would tack on the PAT and the score would be tied 14-14 at the end of a fast-paced 1st Quarter.
As the game moved into the 2nd Quarter, Van Meter would try to seize control as the Bulldogs would score two more times before halftime on successive possessions. Dalten Van Pelt would find the end zone next for Van Meter on a 14 yard touchdown run with 9:40 remaining in the quarter. The next Bulldog score would come much closer to the halftime break as Pettit would find Ganon Archer in the left corner of the end zone with only 17 seconds left on the clock. Gordon would add both PAT’s and Van Meter had battled back to take a 28-14 lead at the half.
Van Meter would receive the kickoff to start the 3rd quarter and it wouldn’t take long for them to find the end zone yet again. Just 1:53 into the 2nd half, Pettit would score his third rushing touchdown of the game on a 14 yard run, and after the Gordon PAT, Van Meter would lead 35-14 as they scored 35 unanswered points. However, Pella Christian would fight back and score on their next possession on another long pass from 50 yards out to cut the lead to 35-21.
The Bulldogs would respond yet again with two more scores to put the game away in the 4th quarter. Pettit would find Calvin Sieck on a 7 yard touchdown pass and then Van Pelt would score his second rushing touchdown of the game on an 11 yard run. Gordon would again add both PAT’s the Bulldog lead would grow to 49-21. Will Gordon would seem to thwart the Eagles final scoring opportunity with a late interception on the Van Meter 3 yard line. However, Pella Christian would force a safety that would make the final score 49-23.
Van Meter would establish a couple of new school records on the offensive side of the ball during this up-tempo playoff game. First, the Van Meter offense would rush for a new school record of 479 yards behind a strong effort by the Bulldog offensive line. These rushing yards along with 126 yards passing would add up to a whopping 605 total yards on 68 plays for nearly 9 yards per play. Dalten Van Pelt would also set a new school record for rushing yards in a single game with 331 yards on 33 carries to go along with his 2 touchdowns. Jack Pettit also rushed for a career high 151 yards on 17 carries and 3 rushing touchdowns to go along with his 126 yards passing and 2 passing touchdowns.
While the offense certainly put up some impressive numbers, the Van Meter defense also did some good things in spite of giving up a couple big plays to the Eagle offense. Overall, Van Meter held Pella Christian to 293 total yards and only 86 yards rushing on 33 carries for only 2.6 yards per rush. The Bulldog defense also did not allow Pella Christian to convert any of their 11 3rd down attempts.
Van Meter’s defensive leaders for the game included:
Casey Trudo – 5.5 Tackles (including 1.5 TFL & 1 Sack)
Carter Durflinger – 4 Tackles (including 1.5 TFL)
Allen Van Pelt – 4 Tackles
Lincoln Olsen – 3.5 Tackles (including 1 TFL)
Alex Jones – 3.5 Tackles
Ike Speltz – 3 Tackles (including .5 TFL) & 1 Fumble Recovery
Chris Schreck – 1.5 Tackles & 1 Fumble Recovery
Will Gordon – 1 Interception
Please click on the following link for complete offensive and defensive stats from the game:
Van Meter 49 – Pella Christian 23 (Game Stats)
Van Meter (9-0) will host Underwood (9-1) in the Quarterfinal Round of the IHSAA Class 1A Playoffs at 7:00 PM on November 6th in Van Meter.
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Photo Credits: Dylan Coldsmith (https://www.facebook.com/dcoldsphotography)