After three-straight appearances in the semifinals at the UNI Dome, the Van Meter Bulldogs will be moving on to the State Championships. The Bulldogs took down the West Lyon Wildcats 35-21 on Saturday, Nov. 11.


The Bulldogs started the game with the ball, and held possession for over half of the first quarter.


With 5:54 left in the first quarter, quarterback Blake Fryar passed the ball to Anthony Lowman. Lowman ran the ball 22 yards into the end zone for the first touchdown of the game.


The Bulldogs’ kicker Sam Bardwell scored the extra point for the Bulldogs and put the score at 7-0.


The Wildcats were able to hold the ball until there was just 33 seconds left in the quarter.


Wildcat Dylan Snyders tied up the score when he had a 27-yard reception for a touchdown. Jaden Snyder scored the extra point and the first quarter ended 7-7.


The Bulldogs began the second quarter with the ball, but the Wildcats quickly took over.


The Bulldogs didn’t get the ball again until there was just 1:29 left in the half, but that still wasn’t before the Wildcats scored again.


The Wildcats had pushed their way down the field until they were just one yard from the goal line. Monte Pottebaum was the Wildcat to carry the ball that last yard. With the extra point on the board, the Wildcats had their first lead (14-7).


The Bulldogs weren’t about to give up on the half. With 15 seconds to go, Fryar sent a pass to Sam Thompson. Thompson ran the ball 25 yards into the end zone, but a pass interference was called against him.


On the next play, Fryar passed the ball 28 yards to Thompson again. This time, he was able to take the ball into the end zone, with just one second left on the board. Bardwell tied it up with his PAT and the half ended 14-14.


The Wildcats started the second half with the ball and were able to hold it for more that half of the third quarter, but weren’t able to score.


With 5:33 left, the Wildcats fumbled and Lowman recovered the ball for a 73-yard touchdown run. Bardwell put the score at 21-14 with his extra point.


“One of the highlights for me was the fact that we had so many players step up and execute in big moments,” said coach Eric Trudo. “It was never just one player. West Lyon was very focused on Carson (Rhodes), so our passing game stepped it up and made some big plays. Defensively, it was a total team effort as we had everyone contributing and honoring their responsibilities. However, any time a team can score either on defense or special teams, that is a huge momentum changer during a game and we were fortunate enough to force a fumble and have Anthony in the right place at the right time to scoop and score to start the second half.”


The Wildcats were able to come back on their next possession. Just two minutes after the Bulldogs’ touchdown, the Wildcats tied it up with one of their own.


Micah Meyer caught the ball and ran it in for the Wildcats. With the extra point on the board, the game was tied 21-21.


This was the last time the game was tied though, as the fourth quarter started out almost immediately with a touchdown.


The Bulldogs had held the ball the last minute and a half of the third quarter and began the fourth at their ten-yard line after a penalty was called at the last second.


This penalty didn’t stop the Bulldogs though, and within 11 seconds they scored again. Fryar passed the ball to Lowman again, who ran the ball 83 yards to put the Bulldogs in the lead.


Bardwell followed up Lowman’s touchdown with another successful PAT and the scoreboard read 28-21.


The Wildcats only kept possession for four minutes before the Bulldogs took over again.


The Bulldogs scored again, with 7:15 left in the game. Lowman sent a pass down the field to Trudo for a 75-yard touchdown. With the extra point on the board, the Bulldogs led 35-21.


Neither team scored again, leaving the score 35-21.


“Our players never wavered from the game plan,” Trudo said. “West Lyon is a very good team and we knew they (were) very capable of making plays. We just needed to keep playing and play the next play and trust each other and we did that.”


The victory allows the Bulldogs to move on to the Championship game. The game will be on Friday, Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. at the UNI Dome.


“Our players are very focused on the fact that the goal wasn’t to win 12 games, so they are ready to continue with preparation for another game and go back to work.”