IOWA CITY– The machine that is West High football continued to roll through a Class 4A first round playoff game Wednesday against the Waterloo West Wahawks.
But the machine was running rough and misfiring through much of the game.
The Trojans pulled off a 41-13 win, despite heavy pressure from the visitors and with West standout Ezra Reiners sidelined with an injury. The Trojans elected to receive and took their first drive down field for a Micah Kelsay 3-yard run for a touchdown. Jeremy Morgan kicked the extra point and the home team had a 7-0 lead just two-and-a-half minutes into the game.
Though a 3-6 team battling against the Trojans’ 9-0 record, the Wahawks stormed within field goal range on their first possession. A failed attempt left the Trojans ahead with just over five minutes in the period. Iowa City West was headed for another touchdown but a fumble around the 5-yard line was recovered by the Wahawks, who then turned the ball over on downs as the quarter ended.
Devin Raffensperger ran 12 yards to score after a nearly seven-minute Trojan drive. Morgan’s kick was good and the Trojans had the 14-0 lead. The drive nearly died on downs, but a fourth down and inches-to-go surge gave the Trojans a badly-needed first down to continue. Waterloo West made another scoring attempt late in the half with a pass into the Trojan end zone. Morgan managed to break up the pass, and the Trojans again took over on downs with four seconds to go.
During the halftime break, as the Trojan pep band rocked and rallied the fans, coach Brian Sauser and company performed a quick overhaul and re-tooled the team. Their efforts were rewarded as the Trojans put on a clinic in the second half, but not until Waterloo got on the scoreboard with a 1-yard run to open the third quarter. The Wahawk extra point failed, but the Trojan lead was cut to 14-6.
Raffensperger retaliated with a 17-yard touchdown pass, but the extra point kick failed, giving the Trojans a more comfortable 20-6 advantage. Morgan scored on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Nate Boland, and Mueng Sunday added the extra point to put the Trojans ahead 27-6.
Reid Bonner intercepted a Wahawk pass early in the fourth quarter, setting up another scoring drive capped by Boland hitting Morgan again, this time for 16 yards and the touchdown. Again Sunday’s kick was true and the Trojans put up a 34-6 lead. Clay Moel went into bulldozer mode as he plowed ahead for a 3-yard run and another Trojan touchdown. Sunday’s kick sailed through the uprights, putting Iowa City up 41-6 and activating the continuous clock with 4:45 left in the game.
To their credit, the Waterloo squad kept fighting, and scored with 44 seconds left on the clock. The extra point was good and it was 41-13.
Raffensperger, filling in for the injured Reiners, led all Trojans with 145 yards of rushing in 19 carries. Kelsay had 42 yards on nine carries; Bonner made one carry for 17 yards and Tavian Smith had one for 20. Boland kept the ball three times for 15 yards, Clay Moel had three for nine yards and Orion Phillips took the ball eight yards on two carries.
Boland completed 14 of 20 passes for 227 yards. Morgan took seven of those passes for 120 yards, Dondre Alexander caught four for 78 and Raffensperger took one for 17 yards. Kelsay and Moel had one reception each with eight yards for Kelsay and four for Moel.
The win set the Trojans up for a Monday, Oct. 29, date with Cedar Rapids Prairie at home for round two of the playoffs (subsequent to this newspaper’s publication). A win over the Prairie Hawks will lead to a quarterfinal round game on Friday, Nov. 2.