116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DYERSVILLE — March on, Trailblazers.
Dyersville Beckman advanced to the Class 1A state football semifinals and will play in the UNI-Dome for the first time since 2014 following a 35-6 win over MFL MarMac Friday night at home.
Friday’s contest was the second meeting between the two teams this season. Beckman (11-0) defeated MFL MarMac in Week 8, 41-7. Despite the margin of victory in the first meeting, the Trailblazers knew they were in for a battle.
“Our kids were ready to play,” said Beckman Coach Mark Atwater. “I think you saw it with our defense. You play an offense like that, with the Wing-T, there’s only so much you can do, there’s so many wrinkles you can put in.
“The more we see it, the more we rep it defensively, the better we got. I think it showed tonight.”
Junior quarterback Cayden Gassmann got the scoring started for Beckman with 58 seconds left in the first quarter, finding Conner Grover for a 7-yard TD. The score capped a 10-play, 74-yard drive that was set up by a turnover on downs forced by the Trailblazer defense.
On Beckman’s next possession, Gassmann scored again, this time with his feet from a yard out. Gassmann’s second score came on a crucial fourth-and-goal, capping a four-play, 41-yard drive that took three minutes.
Trailing 14-0, the Bulldogs shifted the momentum as they recovered a muffed punt at Beckman’s 26.
Gabe McGeough caught a 25-yard pass, followed by a 1-yard TD to put the Bulldogs back within a score at 14-6.
Beckman drove it all the way down to MFL MarMac’s 6 on its final possession of the first half, but McGeough recovered a fumble at the 6 to keep it a one-possession game at the half.
“At halftime everyone was a little down,” Gassmann said. “But Coach (Atwater) said ‘we’re still winning the football game. And we’re not playing very well.’ So we knew we had it.”
Both teams were held in check in the third quarter and Beckman held just a 14-6 lead entering the fourth.
That’s when the Trailblazers turned on the jets.
Beckman scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns as Owen Huehnergarth ran it in from 2 yards out with 9:26 left. Huehnergarth’s scored capped a methodical 17-play, 63-yard drive that took 7:58 off the clock.
With 4:51 to go, Gassmann gashed the MFL MarMac defense on his way to a 72-yard TD.
Gassmann then threw a 25-yard TD strike to Eric Heinrichs with 2:55 left to cap the scoring.
“He’s a dude,” Atwater said of Gassmann. “Not just a guy, he’s a dude. When people want to slow something else up, it became his opening. Tonight was his time.”
Gassmann accounted for four touchdowns (two passing, two rushing), completed 14 of 18 passes for 143 yards and rushed 14 times for 157 yards.
Owen Huehnergarth added 109 rushing yards and a TD on 27 carries.
For the sixth-ranked Trailblazers (11-0), this was their third straight home playoff win.
While they might have not have the comfort of playing on the home turf in the semifinal round, they don’t anticipate feeling out of place in Cedar Falls.
“Obviously none of us have played there yet, so there’s going to be some nerves,” Gassmann said. “But we know we can play with anybody, so I don’t think it’ll be too much.”
“This group is different,” Atwater said. “I just don’t think the lights are too bright. They’re going to play well regardless and they’re going to be physical regardless. I think that’s what we bring.”
It was a tough way to end the season for MFL MarMac. But Coach Dan Anderson is proud of this year’s team.
“I couldn’t be prouder,” said Anderson. “This group of seniors, you know, MFL MarMac for 26 years didn’t have a winning football season. And we’ve gone three (consecutive) years to the quarterfinals. These seniors have won 31 football games in the last four years.”
Beckman will play at the UNI-Dome Nov. 12.
“No team at Beckman has won 12 games before,” Atwater said. “We’re 11-0, we want to get 12. We have to. That’s our first goal.”