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Flawless outing as Van Meter football blanks ACGC in postseason action

Andrew Brown
Dallas County News

In an outing that could easily be described as nearly flawless, the Van Meter football team kept their season going with a 36-0 shutout over ACGC on Friday, Oct. 23.  

It was round two of postseason play as Van Meter hosted the ACGC Chargers for the second time in 2020. The contest marked the 13th time in program history that Van Meter faced a team twice in one season. Right from the get-go, it seemed as though the Bulldogs could do no wrong as they scored 29 points in the first half alone. 

It marked perhaps Van Meter's most efficient offensive night while the defense held an opponent scoreless for the fourth time this season. Van Meter totaled 283 yards of offense, the fewest they have produced all season. Yet from just 283 yards of offense, Van Meter made it eight straight games scoring 30 points or more. 

Van Meter's Dalten Van Pelt runs through the ACGC defense on Friday, Oct. 23 in round two of postseason play.

Even with the ultimate outcome, it was a defensive battle in the first quarter. Van Meter held the only score in that quarter and it came on a two-yard touchdown run by Jack Pettit. That marked the first of four total touchdowns that Pettit had a hand in throughout the contest. Pettit's four scores were accompanied by 134 total combined yards of offense on the night. His 20 points scored marked the third-highest all-time in a postseason game by a Van Meter player. 

The second quarter is where most of the action occurred offensively as Van Meter touched up 22 points. That tied for the most points scored in the second quarter by the Bulldogs all season. The scoring began with a Dalten Van Pelt touchdown score followed by a Pettit two-point conversion.

Van Pelt averaged just over eight yards per carry against the Chargers, nearly two yards better than in their regular-season matchup to end with 145 yards and one score on the ground. It also continues his historical run in 2020 as the junior walked away from the contest with 1,102 total rushing yards on the season. That's already the 10th-best single-season performance in Van Meter football history.

Van Meter junior Jack Pettit stiff arms an ACGC defender on Friday, Oct. 23 in second round postseason play in Van Meter.

Following that 15-0 lead, Pettit found the end zone once again just a few minutes later on a touchdown run to increase their lead to 22-0 with under five minutes left in the half.

Despite just 17 aerial yards on the night, the Bulldogs did have fireworks in the passing game. Highlighting those efforts was a seven-yard touchdown pitch and catch between Pettit and fellow junior Chris Schreck. Interestingly enough, those 17 passing yards marked the fewest in a game by a Van Meter offense since 2011 when they posted just 16 passing yards against Guthrie Center. 

The Bulldogs went into halftime with a 29-0 lead.  There would be just one more score on the night which once again came from Pettit in the third quarter to bring the score to its final resting place of 36-0. 

Van Meter head coach Eric Trudo congratulating his players after forcing the ACGC offense to punt on Friday, Oct. 23 in the second round of postseason action.

Defensively, the Bulldogs forced ACGC to just 177 yards of total offense, their lowest offensive output of the 2020 campaign. There wasn't much momentum gained by the Charger offense but more from their special teams unit who had the better night against Van Meter with 109 return yards. It marked the continuation of what has been a dominating defensive effort as the Bulldogs have blanked 22 of their last 58 opponents dating back to 2016. 

"We had effort, enthusiasm, making sure you're there for your teammates when they make a big play," began senior defensive star Max Gilliland. "Try to keep the energy high and the tempo as fast as you can." 

Gilliland and the rest of the Van Meter defense stifled the bread and butter of ACGC's offense in the running game. The Chargers came into the contest averaging 276 yards on the ground per game. Friday night, Van Meter limited the Chargers to 141 total rushing yards. 

"We keyed on the fullback and stuffed them up the middle," said Gilliland. "Our other guys took care of things outside. We're all doing our jobs." 

 Fellow senior Ethan Fisher led the way in tackles with four unassisted and four assisted against the Chargers. 

The win for the Bulldogs gives them an 8-0 record on the season and a chance to continue on in postseason play. They will now advance to the third round of postseason action on Friday, Oct. 30 against an opponent yet to be determined. 

The Van Meter football team picked up their fifth straight win over ACGC on Friday, Oct. 23 in the second round of the Class 1A postseason.