116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — You can’t have a renaissance football season without a playoff win.
That one got checked off the list Friday night for Iowa City High. The Little Hawks used a very large, bold pen, too.
City High scored on its first three offensive possessions, got a 98-yard kickoff return for touchdown by Jamari Newson, three interceptions and two touchdown passes on gadget plays by Gable Mitchell and beat up Urbandale, 47-21, in a Class 5A first-round game at Bates Field.
“We played really good the first half,” said City High running back-defensive back Joey Bouska. “The third quarter was not our best, we didn’t play very good. But we closed it out.”
This was City High’s first playoff victory since 2016. The Little Hawks (9-1) came in ranked seventh and Urbandale (7-3) ninth, with the teams having similar state RPI rankings: City High seventh and Urbandale 10th.
That suggested this one could be a tight one, but City High ran to an early lead, held off a semi-comeback in the third quarter and moves on to play a 5A quarterfinal playoff game next week against top-ranked Cedar Rapids Kennedy (10-0) at Kingston Stadium in Cedar Rapids. By the way, City High has a lower-than-you’d-expect RPI because the winning percentage of its opponents this season was the second-lowest in all of 5A, the lowest of any 5A playoff qualifier.
That factors into the RPI equation.
“We definitely use that as motivation,” said Bouska, who had a pair of first-quarter touchdown runs and a second-quarter TD reception. “We want to play the best, and we’re just going to keep going. Let’s go.”
“We rose really fast to the top,” said first-year City High Coach Mitch Moore. “I don’t know if we handled that success great. We’ve talked about managing success these last three weeks. We’re going to do it again this week.”
City High’s lone loss was three weeks ago to Pleasant Valley. The Little Hawks went 2-4 in a truncated, COVID-affected 2020 season and were 2-7 in the three seasons prior to that.
This has been a return to winning ways.
“You can argue a lot of things,” Mitchell said. “But you know what? You’ve still got to win the game. That’s what we’re doing. We won tonight, we’ve just got to keep moving on. That’s what we’re here for.”
City High’s defense forced an immediate three and out from Urbandale, with a short punt giving the Little Hawks offense the ball in J-Hawks territory. Six running plays, mostly up the middle, took care of the 45 yards needed, with Bouska’s 4-yard TD burst and the extra point making it 7-0 just 3:06 into the game.
Mitchell picked a pass for City High on Urbandale’s next possession, with Bouska breaking loose for a 44-yard touchdown run and a 14-0 lead. A bit of trickeration and a little luck put the Little Hawks up three scores early in the second quarter: a fourth-down reverse pass from Mitchell bouncing off the hands of well-covered receiver Jovan Harris but to Ben Kueter for an 8-yard score.
The extra point missed, making it 20-0. Urbandale got a touchdown back on its next possession, but Jamari Newson ran the ensuing kickoff back. An 18-yard Drew Larson touchdown pass to running back Bouska over the middle made it a 34-7 game at the half.
Urbandale scored twice in the third quarter to make it kind of interesting, but City High resumed total command when Mitchell threw a third-and-1 halfback pass to a wide-open Kueter for 54 yards and a touchdown in the first minute of the fourth. Darren Richardson added a 45-yard TD run with six minutes to go.
“Touchdown passes get points,” Mitchell said. “But interceptions allow for it. So I don’t know. I like them both.”
“Dan Gable loves to attend our practices,” Moore said. “He pulled me aside a couple of weeks ago and said ‘I don’t think you need to call them trick plays. But if those are plays that work, put them in your repertoire.’ That stuck with me. I’ve got so much respect for that guy as a coach. I know it sounds a little crazy to have a wrestling coach dictate your thoughts. But what he said stuck with me.”
Richardson rushed 23 times for 146 yards for City High. Mitchell and regular quarterbacks Drew Larson and Quinton Tran combined to complete 14 of 23 passes for 270 yards, to seven different receivers.
Urbandale QB Peyton Rottinghaus completed 18 of 40 throws for 265 yards and three TDs, showing his toughness by returning to play three different times after sacks injured him and took him off the field.
The game started 36 minutes late because one of Urbandale’s team buses broke down en route to Iowa City.
IOWA CITY HIGH 47, URBANDALE 21
At Bates Field (Iowa City)
Urbandale 0 7 14 0-21
Iowa City High 14 20 0 13-47
- ICH-Joey Bouska 4 run (Kongalo Mwenemkamba kick)
- ICH-Bouska 44 run (Mwenemkamba kick)
- ICH-Ben Kueter 8 pass from Gable Mitchell (kick failed)
- Urb-Grant Friedrichsen 24 pass from Peyton Rottinghaus (Rockne Carver kick)
- ICH-Jamari Newson 98 kickoff return (Mwenemkamba kick)
- ICH-Bouska 18 pass from Drew Larson (Mwenemkamba kick)
- Urb-Kai Black 27 pass from Rottinghaus (Carver kick)
- Urb-Black 7 pass from Rottinghaus (Carver kick)
- ICH-Kueter 45 pass from Mitchell (Mwenemkamba kick)
- ICH-Darren Richardson 45 run (Nwenemkamba kick
First Downs - Urbandale 20, City High 20. Rushes-Yards - Urbandale 29-29, City High 39-229. Passing Yards - Urbandale 295, City High 270. Completions-Attempts-Interceptions - Urbandale 18-41-3, Iowa City High 13-23-1. Total Yards - Urbandale 295, City High 499. Punts-Average - Urbandale 4-24.5, City High 3-32.0. Fumbles-Lost - Urbandale 2-0, City High 1-1. Penalties-Yards - Urbandale 8-60, City High 12-105.
Rushing - Urbandale: Ben Booth 16-43, Dillon Kuehl 2-0, Jordan Sturdivant 1-3, Drew Sickerson 1-3, Drew Rottinghaus 9-(minus) 20. City High: Darren Richardson 23-146, Joey Bouska 9-57, Drew Larson 3-21, Quinton Tran 2-10, Ben Kueter 1-(minus) 4, Jamari Newson 1-(minus) 6.
Passing - Urbandale: Peyton Rottinghaus 18-40-3-265, Jordan Sturtivant 0-1-0-0. Iowa City High: Drew Larson 10-16-0-201, Gable Mitchell 2-2-0-62, Quinton Tran 1-5-0-7.
Receiving - Urbandale: Kai Black 7-142, Graham Friedrichsen 5-46, Cole Garwood 2-38, Jaylen Ziegler 2-23, Beau Carenza 1-14. Iowa City High: Ben Kueter 3-69, John Klosterman 1-50, Akili Mattox 2-38, Joey Bouska 3-33, Jovan Harris 2-21, Ronnie Major 1-5, Darren Richardson 1-0.
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