116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Mark Atwater saw it on film.
“What you see ... it’s impressive,” the Dyersville Beckman coach said when analyzing Van Meter. “Against a team like that, you’ve got to be perfect.”
The Blazers were good Friday, but good simply wasn’t enough.
Top-ranked Van Meter got a punt return for a touchdown and a fumble recovery early, and ended Beckman’s football season, 28-7, in a Class 1A semifinal Friday morning at the UNI-Dome.
“We knew what we were up against,” Atwater said. “We made too many mistakes.
“A turnover, a special-teams touchdown ... and not getting off the field (defensively) on third and fourth down. We call those money downs, and they won more money downs than we did.”
» Photo gallery: Van Meter vs. Dyersville Beckman in state football semifinals
Van Meter (12-0) returns here to play for the state championship at 4 p.m. Thursday against No. 7 West Sioux (11-1).
The Bulldogs are in the championship game for the fourth time in the past five years. They were the 1A champions in 2017, runners-up in 2019 and 2020.
“We have some unfinished business, obviously,” said Van Meter running back Dalten Van Pelt, who rushed for 173 yards and a touchdown. “We’ve got to come out and play this way next week.”
Beckman (11-1) had its moments Friday, but Van Meter had more.
“They did what we expected,” Beckman lineman Jason Koopmann said. “We played solid at times, but we couldn’t keep it up.”
The teams traded defensive stops in the opening minutes, then Van Meter struck on Chris Schreck’s 46-yard punt return for a touchdown.
“I love catching (punts) in the Dome,” Schreck said. “The ball hangs a little longer, and you have time to evaluate what’s going on downfield. I saw a gap, I made a cut, then it was straight on from there.
“We don’t get stopped on our first (offensive) drive very often, so it was big to come back and score there.”
Beckman fumbled it away on the third play of its subsequent possession, then the Bulldogs drove 45 yards in six plays, with Van Pelt’s 19-yard TD run capping it for a 14-0 lead.
The Blazers answered with their lone scoring drive of the game. Cayden Gassmann connected with a wide-open Conner Grover for a 53-yard gain on the first play, then Gassmann hit Max Mullis on fourth-and-3 for a 13-yard touchdown, and it was 14-7 after one quarter.
But Van Meter responded with two long scoring drives (nine plays for 80 yards, then 15 plays for 85), both ending with Ganon Archer outjumping the opposition in the end zone for touchdown passes.
The second half was a scoreless draw. Beckman drove into Van Meter territory three times, including a march to the 3 in the third quarter, but couldn’t score.
“We played our physical style of football in the second half,” Gassmann said. “We just couldn’t punch it in.
“We had a great season, but we didn’t get to the next step like we wanted.”
Van Meter finished with 323 yards of total offense, 271 on the ground. Pettit rushed for 98 yards, passed for 52.
Gassmann ran for 79 yards, passed for 107 to pace Beckman’s 256-yard attack. Owen Huehnergarth netted 72 yards on 20 carries.
“We settled down in the second half and played better,” Atwater said. “This team had the biggest growth from any of my teams from where we started to where we got.
“I’m not sad because we lost. I’m sad because it’s over.”
IHSAA officials couldn’t confirm for certain, but Van Meter kicker Katie Lindsay is believed to be the first girl to score in a football game in the UNI-Dome. Lindsay made all four PAT attempts, and is 71 of 74 this season.
Van Meter 28, Dyersville Beckman 7
AT CEDAR FALLS
First downs: Beckman 12, VM 19
Rushes-yards: Beckman 39-149, VM 45-271
Passing yards: Beckman 107, VM 52
Passing: Beckman 8-17-0, VM 5-10-0
Total yards: Beckman 256, VM 323
Fumbles-lost: Beckman 4-2, VM 1-0
Punts-average: Beckman 3-33.3, VM 3-38.3
Penalties-yards: Beckman 1-5, VM 2-15
Beckman 7 0 0 0 — 7
Van Meter 14 14 0 0 — 28
VM — Chris Schreck 46 punt return (Katie Lindsay kick)
VM — Dalten Van Pelt 19 run (Lindsay kick)
BECK — Max Mullis 13 pass from Cayden Gassmann (Logan Burchard kick)
VM — Ganon Archer 12 pass from Jack Pettit (Lindsay kick)
VM — Archer 14 pass from Pettit (Lindsay kick)
Beckman — Cayden Gassmann 17-79, Owen Huehnergarth 20-72, Luke Schieltz 1-1, Max Mullis 1-(minus 3). Van Meter — Dalten Van Pelt 29-173, Jack Pettit 16-98.
Beckman — Gassmann 8-17-0-107. Van Meter — Pettit 5-10-0-52.
Beckman — Schieltz 2-22, Mullis 2-17, Padraig Gallagher 2-15, Conner Grover 1-53, Huehnergarth 1-0. Van Meter — Ganon Archer 2-27, Chris Schreck 2-18, Van Pelt 1-7.