116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR FALLS — Emotional. Hard fought. Simply tough to swallow.
The reactions were understandable after Williamsburg’s valiant effort to return to the state championship game.
West Lyon’s Jaxon Meyer played spoiler with an interception in overtime before scoring the decisive 5-yard touchdown rush, leading the sixth-ranked Wildcats to a 20-14 victory in a Class 2A state football semifinal game Saturday at the UNI-Dome.
“The kids played with tremendous heart, like they always do,” Williamsburg Coach Curt Ritchie said. “They took all the blows and kept hanging in there. I’m very proud of them for that.”
The Wildcats (10-2) advance to the championship game against No. 3 Southeast Valley (11-1) here next Friday at 10 a.m.
The Raiders (8-4) end another strong campaign, winning eight straight to reach their third semifinal in the last five seasons.
“It sucks,” Raider senior quarterback Cade Ritchie said. “There is nobody I would rather do this with. It’s a great group. There is a bright future.”
» Photo gallery: Williamsburg vs. West Lyon in state football semifinals
Senior Jake Weber reflected on a tough start to the season that included an 0-3 mark. The Raiders persevered and trounced 2A foes to reach this point.
“I love this program and everyone on this team,” Weber said. “To battle through that adversity was big. We had a lot of young kids step up. Our coaches adapted and we adapted as a team. We got here.”
“We were not satisfied this year. Sometimes it is just how it goes. We played a great team. I’m so proud of everybody here.”
The teams battled to a 14-14 tie through 48 minutes of regulation. Williamsburg opened the extra frame with the ball. On the second play, Meyer undercut a pass at the goal line to keep the Raiders off the board.
The Wildcats needed just two plays to cover 10 yards to win, ending it on Meyer’s run off right tackle. Meyer accounted for all three Wildcat TDs and finished with 118 total offensive yards, including 68 rushing.
“I thought we had some momentum going into the end of the fourth quarter,” Williamsburg’s Derek Weisskopf said. “We didn’t score on that last drive and went into overtime but they scored.”
West Lyon hogged the ball in the third quarter, owning an 18-3 advantage in offensive plays. The Wildcats produced an impressive 14-play drive that covered 53 yards and melted 7:49 off the clock.
“We knew that could happen,” Ritchie said. “That makes us be a little more aggressive than we’d normally be on offense. You know you might not get a lot of plays.”
Meyer’s 1-yard QB sneak put West Lyon up 14-7 with a little more than 10 minutes left in the fourth.
The Raiders recaptured their success on a 66-yard drive that tied the game. Cade Ritchie hit Madox Doehrmann on a fade to the back left corner of the end zone on fourth-and-10 from the 15.
Williamsburg’s offense was effective early. The Raiders moved into West Lyon territory with a mix of run and pass, reaching the 40. The drive came to a halt with a fumble that the Wildcats grabbed.
The Raiders put points on the board on the next possession after the defense recovered a fumble of its own.
Two plays later, Cade Ritchie and Weber connected on a 61-yard touchdown pass for a 7-0 lead with 4:59 left in the first quarter.
Ritchie lofted a deep pass down the left sideline that Weber jumped and caught between two defenders. He landed on his feet and kept striving, pulling away for the score.
“It’s what me and Cade did all year,” Weber said. “It was huge for us. It gave me a confidence boost.
“It was good to connect early.”
Williamsburg’s stout defense thwarted West Lyon’s first good opportunity to score. The Wildcats started on the Raiders 41 and moved inside the 10. The Raiders stuffed four straight rushes, turning them away on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
“The defense has been phenomenal all year,” Curt Ritchie said. “They took blow after blow from a big, physical team. We fought for every inch and just came up a little short there in the end.”
West Lyon capitalized, however, on a similar series. The Wildcats forced a three-and-out following Williamsburg’s goal-line stand. They took over at the Raiders 34. Six plays later, Meyer scored on a 3-yard rush, tying the game at 7-7 with 4:10 left before halftime.
The teams were almost even in yardage. West Lyon amassed 256 to Williamsburg’s 245. Cade Ritchie finished with 199 yards passing and both TDs. Weber had 120 yards receiving. The Wildcats’ Hunter Jacobson had a game-high 98 rushing yards.