IOWA CITY– Some call it “the second season.” Officially, it is “the Football Postseason Tournament.” Call it what you will, the bottom line is the same.
It’s do or die time.
Brian Sauser’s West High Trojans survived Wednesday night’s (Oct. 26) first round encounter with Dubuque Wahlert at home, picking up the team’s first postseason win in several years, 66-32.
The Trojans took the kickoff from Wahlert and scored on a Charles Rogers 44 yard keeper with 8:40 left in the first quarter. Alex Troester’s point-after-touchdown (PAT) kick was good, and West had the early 7-0 lead.
Anthony Brown made a 2-yard run with about three minutes left in the period to score, and with Troester’s kick, the Trojans were up 14-0. The Golden Eagles made their presence known however, scoring on a 16 yard run with 44 seconds left in the quarter for a 14-7 ballgame.
In the second, Brown took a 2-yard run into the end zone to give West a 21-7 lead, then foiled Dubuque’s drive and started another trip to the end zone from their own 26 yard line. But, the Eagles’ made a stop, forcing the Trojans to punt the ball away. Wahlert capitalized on the return, going all the way to West’s 3-yard-line and scoring on the next play to make it 21-13.
The end of the half was interesting, as the Trojans were on-track for another touchdown, making it to the 2-yard-line with 17 seconds left on the clock. Brown tried to get in, but ended up flipped and on the 1-yard-line. The guys in green scrambled for a quick play and Rogers took a shot at spiking the ball into the end zone, after time had expired. But, the referees put one second back on the clock, called a penalty on West, called a second penalty and replaced the second again before Rogers ran for his life to score. Troester’s kick gave Sauser’s crew a 28-13 lead at the half.
“We seem like we play in more bizarre games,” Sauser said after the game. “I don’t know what it is; it’s always something strange going on.”
The strangeness continued into the third quarter as the Eagles soared to a touchdown in just three plays for a 28-19 ballgame. The Trojans extended their lead on the next drive in one play as Rogers found Dondre Alexander with a 43-yard pass for the touchdown. Troester’s kick made it 35-19 with 10 minutes to go in the period.
The scoring frenzy continued as Wahlert’s Riley McCarron flew 51 yards to score, and cutting West’s lead to 10 before the PAT.
“We knew McCarron was going to be a handful… you know, that guy is as dangerous as anybody,” Sauser said.
Again, the Trojans took the kickoff from Dubuque, and again it only took one play for Rogers to find a receiver in position to score. This time, Jeremy Morgan took the 68-yard pass in to score. Again, Troester put the kick straight down main street and West’s lead grew to 42-26 with 7:17 remaining in the quarter.
The points trading continued through the rest of the quarter. The rest of the game continued to go West’s way.
The Trojans opened the final stanza with a 7-yard run by Richard Bryant to score. Coupled with Troester’s kick, West had a 52-29 lead with 11:34 left in the ball game. Rogers gave his team a little insurance and insulation with a 37-yard scramble into the end zone. While the Eagles tried to find the end zone again, the West defense held them to another field goal, one that just barely dropped over the crossbar.
With 3:42 left, Sauser put in many secondary players including Xavier May at quarterback. Orion Phillips took a 32-yard run and scored West’s final touchdown while Troester put up one more kick for the exclamation point on the sentence.
“Those kids (Wahlert) played hard and luckily we played well, and had some breaks go our way. But you know, we never really got stopped on our offense all night,” Sauser said. “As long as we didn’t turn the ball over, we were going to keep on scoring. We ran the ball like crazy, and I’m really proud of our guys for doing that.”
The win advanced the Trojans to a second round battle on Halloween night in Eldridge against the North Scott Lancers, the team that knocked West out last year in a first round battle on a bitterly cold and windy night. While hungry for revenge, Sauser took a more practical approach to the upcoming battle.
“I’m just glad to be playing on Monday (Oct. 31). Too many times, you’re sick to your stomach when everybody else is playing.”