Despite their lowest offensive point total of the season, the Van Meter football team punched their fifth consecutive ticket to the state semi-final round at the UNI-Dome Friday, Nov. 8.

In front of the hometown crowd, the Bulldogs defeated South Central Calhoun in a defensive dog fight 10-6 to punch their ticket. Behind 264 yards of total offense, the Bulldogs walked away from their final 2019 game at Bulldog field with their 29th consecutive home field victory dating back to 2014.

“This is what playoff football is all about,” said head coach Eric Trudo. “This is why you work for 11 months to get back to a moment like this and our kids took advantage of their opportunities here tonight.”

The entire contest began on an inauspicious start that saw the Bulldogs shutout across the first quarter of play for the first time all season long. On a positive note defensively, it marked the eighth time this season that the Bulldogs forced their opponent without a score in the opening quarter. Ultimately, neither team found the scoreboard across the first quarter and both teams entered the second quarter tied up at zero. Then the second quarter came along and fans witnessed the largest single-quarter offensive output of the game for both squads. It is where both teams touched up the scoreboard and it’s where Van Meter faced their first deficit all season long. Following a Zach Madden 32-yard field goal to kick off the second quarter, South Central Calhoun answered back four minutes later with a three-yard touchdown run. That led to a 6-3 deficit and quite the scare for the Bulldog faithful.

Every scoring drive on the night came in no less than ten plays. Van Meter’s only end-zone trip came with 1:29 left in the first half of play. The one-yard touchdown rush by Dalten Van Pelt capped off a 12-play, 73-yard drive to put the Bulldogs up 10-6. It was a huge score that shifted the momentum of the game and something that signal-caller Anthony Potthoff recognized as a big point in the game.

“Certainly we would have liked to score more offensively but looking back, that was a huge part of the game for us,” began Potthoff. “Definitely have to give a shoutout to the defense who held a very good South Central Calhoun to just six points tonight.”

It was a bend but not break mentality that saw more efficient work by the Bulldogs as a whole. Defensively the Bulldogs held opponents to an average of 5.2 points per game entering the contest as saw the Titans post six points while averaging 6.9 yards per play across the first half of play.

The second half of the game proved to be extremely exciting, but no points per posted up on the scoreboard. Never the less, Van Meter held strong on their end and worked the clock down to all zero’s and with it, a ticket punched to the UNI-Dome. Leading the top-ranked Bulldogs on the ground was Dalten Van Pelt who captured 56 yards on 25 rushes. Through the air, Anthony Potthoff posted a career-high in completions with 12 which he turned into 174 yards passing. Zach Madden and Parker Fryar led the way in receiving with 67 yards and 32 yards respectively.

Defensively, Tyler Haynes and Parker Fryar paced the team with four solo tackles each and three assisted tackles. Overall the Bulldogs nearly doubled the Titans in time of possession 30:49 to 17:11.

Next up for the Bulldogs will be the state semi-final round which will take them to the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. They will take on the likes of Iowa City Regina (9-2) who came into the postseason as the 11th ranked Class 1A squad. It will be the second-ever meeting between the Bulldogs and the Regals, the first coming back in 2017 during the state title game in which Van Meter won 28-7. The game will kick-off Saturday, Nov. 16 beginning at 10 a.m.