CEDAR FALLS — They were all reminded about that football cliche.
Defense wins championships. Yada, yada, yada.
“Yeah, I agree with that,” said Iowa City West’s Dillon Doyle. “But you do need a little offense in there somewhere.”
Fair enough, Dillon. Fair enough.
West got a little offense and a whole lot of defense Friday afternoon at the UNI-Dome, shutting down and shutting out No. 4 Bettendorf, 23-0, in a Class 4A state playoff semifinal. It’s back to the title game for the top-ranked Trojans (12-0), who get four-time defending champ West Des Moines Dowling (11-1) next Friday.
“Right now, if we can play like (this), I think we’ll be in a good spot,” Doyle said.
“The coaches just told us to play hard tonight,” said West’s Trumell Roberts. “They said if we played hard, there was no doubt we would win. That’s what we did.”
West contained Bettendorf’s running game and blanketed Bulldogs receivers, leaving quarterback Carter Bell scrambling and scrambling and scrambling. Most of the time, he had nowhere to run and nowhere to throw.
Bell had over 2,000 combined yards rushing and passing coming in but finished with just 79 here. That included 6 of 17 passing and his first two interceptions of the entire season: one by Austin West, the other by Andre White.
Bettendorf (10-2) had a mere 94 yards and turned the ball over four times. It had only three TOs total in its first 11 games.
“Hats off to those guys on defense,” said West quarterback Evan Flitz, who threw a pair of second-half touchdown passes. “They played outstanding. An outstanding game. Just really happy for them. They came out, they prepared.”
“They had a really talented quarterback, and we prepared for that all week,” said Doyle, the University of Iowa linebacker commit. “They’re a good team, but I think we had a good preparation ... I’m proud of our defense. They had a helluva game.”
This was West’s second shutout of the season. It has allowed single-digit points in seven of its last eight games.
“I don’t feel like we won the line of scrimmage,” said Bettendorf Coach Aaron Wiley. “We’ve kind of been built all season on getting big plays, and we didn’t get any. We didn’t have those explosive plays that we’re kind of used to having, and I credit them, their defense, for taking that away.”
“We are not the biggest team, but we are fast, and we move,” said West Coach Garrett Hartwig said. “They understand their responsibilities, and they never give up on a play. That is the secret to a good defense. One that never gives up on a play.”
Everyone knows about West’s explosive and multi-faceted offense, and it was able to overcome some fits and starts due to penalties and turnovers to score three touchdowns. Roberts had the first, breaking loose from a pile of players in the middle of the field and running down the sideline 37 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.
He had 107 yards rushing on 17 cracks.
“Score, score, score, score, score. That’s all I was thinking there,” Roberts said. “Instincts, I guess. Until the whistle blows, keep playing.”
A 35-yard Lucas Karwal field goal made it a 9-0 game at halftime. Karwal had his extra-point attempt after Roberts’ score blocked, by the way.
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A Flitz-driven, 88-yard drive late in the third quarter put the game away. The senior QB completed four of five passes in the march for 89 yards, including a perfect deep ball into the corner of the end zone to West for the 43-yard TD.
Flitz connected with Austin Geasland in the fourth quarter on a similar pattern for a 28-yard touchdown. He finished 21 of 28 passing in the game for 282 yards and an interception.
“I thought we were really effective,” Flitz said. “We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. Costly penalties and too many turnovers. We’ve got things to work on going into next week. I’m excited to get those things fixed.”
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