In what could only be described as one of the wildest finishes in Iowa High School football this season, the West Des Moines Valley Tigers rolled into Waukee stadium Friday night and downed the Warriors in the final seconds to claim a 28-27 victory.
The Warriors held the lead for all but 14 seconds of the game before Valley quarterback Beau Lombardi took a twelve yard passing strike into the end zone to claim the eventual game winner.
The game seemed almost in the bag for Waukee for most of the game, and it started with a fast start. Mitch Randall connected with Sam O’Dell early on as Waukee fired the opening salvo to give the Warriors the early 7-0 lead. After the Waukee defense did their part by hauling in an interception one of two on the night, the Warriors claimed their second score and a 14-0 lead before Valley got o the board with a field goal. Defense would prevail for the most part throughout the rest of the half as both teams headed into the halftime break with a score of 14-9, in favor of Waukee.
The second half is where the scoring intensity turned up with a combined 32 points scored between the two teams. Waukee harnessed the power of home field and marched 80 yards to open up the second half and scored on a ten yard toss from Mitch Randall to Zach Eaton. Both teams would trade punts before Valley struck with seven minutes remaining in the first half on a 42 yard rushing touchdown. With the two-point conversion faltering, the score read 20-15 in favor of Waukee.
In a call and response scenario, Waukee answered the Valley score just over a minute later on O’Dell’s second receiving touchdown of the game. That then gave the Warriors a more comfortable 27-15 advantage. The Waukee defense struck again and hauled in the second interception of the night and then proceeded to stop Valley on two consecutive fourth down conversion attempts.
It was at this time with 2:24 left in the game, that the Valley Tigers made their improbable comeback over the Warriors. It all began with a 60 plus yard drive capped off by a one yard touchdown run to bring the game to a 27-22 Waukee lead. Then Valley managed to execute an onside kick attempt, giving them the ball near midfield with a full head of steam.
The final two minutes looked good for Waukee off the bat as Valley suffered two straight penalties yet still they marched the majority of the field. With some good plays and what some would claim as questionable calls, the Valley offense drove the end zone with just 14 seconds left in regulation and claimed the 28-27 lead.
After the game Warrior head coach Scott Carlson was pleased by his team’s play but mentioned the game came down to something in particular.
“Over all I thought our kids played a good game,” began Carlson. “We just needed to make one more play. We needed one more play to go our way but unfortunately, that did not happen for us tonight. We were just one play short.”
When dissecting what went down favorably for the Warriors, coach Carlson was quick to cite his stingy defense.
“Our defense has a lot of athleticism and what we may lack in size we more than make up for in athleticism and speed and I think that showed here tonight for the most part,” said Carlson. “Our guys rose to the challenge against a potent Valley offense.”
The offense was not too far behind in execution and also gave coach Carlson some excitement in the game.
“The offense was really clicking in the game tonight,” began Carlson. “Mitch did a tremendous job tonight following his reads and also earned one of his best performances on the ground.”
Despite the loss, Waukee football walks away with a lot of positives which as coach Carlson states, includes the schedule of opponents.
“Given the schedule that we’ve played, there were a lot of things that we were able to learn about ourselves,” started Carlson. “The biggest thing for me is that we’re battle tested and know how to play in the big games.”
The Warriors came within one drive of a 4-0 start but unfortunately settle with a 2-2 start as they now get ready for district play. Waukee’s district opener will take them on the road to Mason City who has started off the season 0-3. Waukee can find solace in the fact that their match-up against Mason City is quite favorable, given the fact that Waukee defeated Mason City 46-16 in their last head to head battle.
Overall, the Warrior football team hasn’t lost a week five game in over 11 seasons. Their chance to make that twelve seasons happens Friday, September 21 with kick off at 7 p.m.