116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Some would call it an upset.
The Bulldogs wouldn’t.
MFL MarMac (8-2) advanced to the state quarterfinals for the third straight year following a 21-7 victory over Class 1A No. 3 Iowa City Regina on the road Friday night.
“People can say it’s an upset,” junior wing back Karter Decker said. “We felt all week that we could win this game. We didn’t consider ourselves underdogs.”
Regina (9-1) entered the game as the hottest team in 1A having won each of its last 20 contests dating back to the beginning of last season’s state title run. But the Bulldogs brought the ingredients to cool the Regals down.
“It’s a marquee win for our program,” MFL MarMac Coach Dan Anderson said. “We’ve had some big wins over the last few years, but this obviously has to be the biggest one ever, to knock off a returning state champion.”
In addition to playing stellar defense all night, one of the keys to the Bulldogs’ success was having Decker back in the mix.
Decker was injured to begin the season but returned to the field in Week 7. He’s been a welcome addition to an already potent offense.
“He’s a dynamic athlete,” Anderson said. “He got third at state in the 200 (meter dash).”
“He’s just dangerous,” senior running back Gabe McGeough said. “He’s ‘Mr. Excitement.’ You give him a little window and he’s gone.”
On MFL MarMac’s first possession, sophomore quarterback Carver Blietz-Bentien hit Decker for a 37-yard TD strike to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 first-quarter lead.
With 8:41 to go in the second, Cullen McShane picked off Gentry Dumont at MFL MarMac’s 25 and returned it to midfield. Three plays later, McShane shed multiple defenders on his way to a 22-yard touchdown.
MFL MarMac kept its foot on the gas pedal as Decker took a jet sweep to the end zone for a 22-yard TD with 1:26 to go in the second as the Bulldogs took a 21-0 lead into intermission.
The Bulldogs didn’t score in the second half ... and they didn’t need to. MFL MarMac’s defense held Regina to a season-low seven points.
“Best I’ve ever seen our defense play,” Anderson said. “We told our guys, ‘we’re going to bring some heat.’ We drilled all week about the zone-read.”
Regina added a late score as Jack Tierney darted in from a yard out with 4:31 left.
The Bulldogs had a balanced approach on offense as McShane, McGeough and Decker each rushed for 60 or more yards.
Prior to Decker’s return to the field in Week 7, McShane and McGeough, nicknamed “The McDouble,” had carried the workload for MFL MarMac. It seems Decker was simply the missing ingredient.
“It makes us a three-headed monster with all three of those guys carrying the football,” Anderson said. “It’s the McDouble-Decker.”
With the win, the Bulldogs move one game closer to the UNI-Dome, a place MFL MarMac has never been in school history.
In their way, No. 6 Dyersville Beckman. Beckman beat MFL MarMac in Week 8, 41-7.
Anderson believes that if his team plays like they did Friday against Regina, they’ll have a shot against Beckman.
“We’re going to have to play clean football like we did tonight,” Anderson said. “We didn’t have any turnovers tonight, against Beckman we had four, and all of them led to 28 points.”
“After getting a win like this under our belt, nobody scares us,” McShane said. “These guys had a 20-game win streak and we snapped it.”