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IOWA CITY — Iowa City High’s big plays started right away in the second half. They didn’t stop.
The sixth-ranked Little Hawks exploded for 30 second-half points and held off a frantic rally from Muscatine in the final minutes in a 36-28 win Friday night at Bates Field.
Vance Dillon returned the second half’s opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and Zach Jones’ 63-yard interception return for a score in the fourth quarter helped City High erase an early deficit.
“We did talk to them (at halftime) that we can’t let it end like that,” City High Coach Dan Sabers said. “I wasn’t pleased with our juice and energy. I thought it wasn’t where it needed to be. We said it’s up to you guys.”
The Little Hawks (6-1, 3-0 District 7) secured a playoff berth with the win. Next week’s showdown against No. 7 and undefeated Bettendorf will decide the district title.
Muscatine (4-3, 1-2) scored a touchdown with three minutes left to make it a one-possession game. The Muskies recovered the ensuing onside kick, but City High’s Naeem Smith intercepted a fourth-down pass to close out the game.
City High quarterback Nate Wieland had 92 yards rushing, 92 yards passing and two total touchdowns.
Muscatine’s Alphonso Soko rushed for 125 yards and added a spectacular 51-yard punt return touchdown.
The Muskies trailed 28-21 with six minutes left when Soko was injured and did not return to the game.
On Muscatine’s first play without Soko, Jones intercepted a Luke Wichers pass and weaved down the sideline for a 63-yard score.
“It was really big for my team,” Jones said. “Definitely the highlight of one of my career plays.
“Coach in practice is on my tail about making dancing moves, but Friday I think you have to make those moves for the team.”