IOWA CITY– It had to happen sooner or later. However, the West High Trojans probably would’ve preferred to suffer their first loss of the 2013 season after The Battle for the Boot.
The City High Little Hawks stymied and denied the Trojans with a 14-7 win Friday night at City, taking the golden Boot in the process. West captured The Boot last year in a 44-0 shutout at home, ending a City streak. The night started out on a promising note as the sophomores pounded out a 48-20 win.
But for the varsity, it was a different story. The Trojans had the first possession, which was bogged down from the start as the City defense lived up to the school’s song, “Sturdy Little Hawk.” After West punted the ball away, those sturdy Little Hawks scored on their first drive with a short run by Mitch Wieland. Drew Cornwell nailed the PAT kick and City held a 7-0 lead five minutes into the contest.
The Trojans regrouped and retaliated, putting together a drive culminating in a short run for Micah Kelsay, good for a Trojan touchdown. Connor Gordon booted the ball through the uprights for the PAT, and the game was tied 7-all.
The second quarter was a study in stagnation as the battlefront shifted, but neither squad could reach the end zone. That is, until the final minute when West tried to repeat the Miracle on Melrose from the week before. A blitzkrieg by the Trojans found them deep in City territory. However, with a second-down and 10-to-go situation around the 37 or 38 yard line, West coach Brian Sauser called for a field goal attempt. The kick missed it’s mark, and the half ended in a stalemate.
The Trojans nearly scored in the third after quarterback Nate Boland scampered downfield in a long run, setting West up for another attempt at a touchdown. Kelsay appeared to have scored from 1 yard out, but the celebration quickly became outrage as an illegal shift penalty was called, negating the touchdown. On the West sideline, Sauser launched into the stratosphere, but his appeal to the officials fell upon deaf ears. Again the West crew regrouped and made another attempt, which failed when Boland was sacked on the fourth-down play, turning the ball over to City.
The Little Hawks scored their second and game-winning touchdown late in the fourth on a drive, which started by recovering a West High fumble and ended with an 18-yard touchdown run by Xavier Washpun. The successful PAT gave the home team a 14-7 lead with just over three minutes to play.
West tried to make the most of their last opportunity, again looking for the magic of the week before. The Trojans started their final drive on their own 30-yard line and worked quickly to midfield. A Boland long bomb to Anthony Batie put the Trojans deep in City territory. With 14 seconds left to play and looking at a fourth-down and 10 to go situation, Boland again passed to Batie just outside the goal line. Again, a penalty stung the Trojans hard as a false start penalty moved West back to the 6-yard line. Boland scampered about trying to find an opening to fire off a pass and finally managed to launch a shot, which was promptly swatted away by City High’s Wieland.
At the game’s end, the Little Hawks raced across the field to take back The Boot while stunned Trojans pondered what might’ve been.
Coach Sauser was unavailable for comments after the game. Friday, Oct. 18, puts the Trojans back on the buses for a trip to Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids to face Cedar Rapids Jefferson. West High returns home Friday, Oct. 25, for Senior Night and to face Waterloo East to bring down the curtain on the regular season.