It was a game that could be described as state championship worthy between the West Sioux Falcons and the Van Meter Bulldogs Saturday afternoon.
It was the Class 1A semifinal round between the reigning class champs and the Falcons who just one year prior, were crowned champions in Class A. It was a true test of two of the better Class 1A schools in the state but unfortunately for the Bulldogs, two late scores by the Falcons was enough to defeat Van Meter 38-35.
It was the first time the Bulldogs faced a deficit all season long and despite posting a school third best 445 total yards of offense in a playoff game, it was not enough to take the victory. It marked the third most points scored by the Bulldogs in a single loss.
The scoring action kicked off in a big way as Van Meter faced their first deficit of the year when West Sioux dropped a 56 yard touchdown pass with five minutes left in the first quarter for a 7-0 advantage. A big advantage for West Sioux came in the form of efficiency as it took just three plays to capture their first two scores and acquire a 14-0 first quarter lead. Van Meter rarely finished a first quarter without a score this season and it remained that way Saturday but it took all of the first quarter to enter the end-zone. With the first quarter clock winding down, Bulldog quarterback Anthony Potthoff capped off an eight play, 68 yard drive to cut the Falcon lead down to 14-7.
West Sioux answered Van Meter just three minutes into the second quarter and capped off a nine play, 62 yard drive with a 31 yard field goal to bring their lead up to a 17-7 advantage. Just as West Sioux flashed consistency throughout the game, so too did Van Meter and it was showcased with a two play, 72 yard drive. Potthoff had been a consistent passe in his own right all season long, yet he stepped it up a notch Saturday by completing a career high 18 passes for 264 yards. one reception and 70 of those yards came with just under seven minutes left before the half on a 70 yard pitch and catch between Anthony Potthoff and Zach Drummond. It was the longest reception of the season for the Bulldogs.
More of a back-and-forth scenario took place from that point beginning with a Falcon touchdown and promptly followed by Van Meter’s third score of the game. That score came by way of Anthony Potthoff’s second of four passing touchdowns which was hauled in by Spencer Lamb to bring the Falcon lead back to three 24-21. That would be the final score of the first half as the Bulldogs endured their very first first half deficit of the year 24-21.
The third quarter was almost void of scoring as it took nearly eight full minutes before the Bulldogs acquired the quarters’ first score. That score gave Van Meter their only lead of the game and it came on a 19 yard touchdown pass from Potthoff to JJ Richards for a 28-24 lead. That capped off the longest drive of the game between either team with 16 plays covering 84 yards That lead would only hold for a few minutes as West Sioux rounded out the third quarter scoring with an end-zone trip to give the Falcons back the lead, 31-28.
What would become the game winner, West Sioux captured their final score of the game on a ten play drive to increase their lead 38-28. The Bulldogs began a furious comeback but they ran up against the clock and ran out of time as the game expired, effectively ending Van Meter’s season.
Despite the loss, the Bulldogs did lead in total yardage with 445 compared to 347 for the Falcons. While Van Meter did best West Sioux in passing yards 264-226 but those 226 yards put up by West Sioux quarterback Hunter Dekkers was the third highest single game mark against Van Meter football in program history.
On the ground for the Bulldogs, Ian Abrahamson didn’t acquire a rushing touchdown despite 115 yards on 31 total carries. His absence from the end-zone marked just the third time all season long that the junior didn’t make an end-zone run in a single game. JJ Richards led the way in receiving touchdowns with two while Zach Drummond hauled in the most receptions for the most yards with six catches for 142 yards.
The loss for the Bulldogs brings an end to the programs longest consecutive winning streak at 24 straight games. The Bulldogs end the 2018 campaign with an 11-1 record and ends the high school football careers for 16 seniors.