116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — You wondered all week if this Iowa City High football team was for real. Could the Little Hawks play with the behemoth known as West Des Moines Dowling?
Simpy put … yeah and yeah.
Ben Kueter’s 20-yard touchdown reception off a fourth-down, double flea-flicker play with 1:09 left provided the winning points as City High beat Class 5A’s sixth-ranked team and the state’s best big-school program, 21-17, Friday night at Bates Field.
City High students rushed the field at game’s end in a mass celebration. First-year head coach Mitchell Moore got doused with a huge container of water as he did postgame interviews.
This scene was something else.
“It gives us all the momentum in the world,” Kueter said. “Obviously the whole state was talking about ‘Oh, you haven’t played anybody.’ This and that. Everybody better know that City High is here. We’re the real deal.”
City High (4-0) had beaten up on Iowa City Liberty, Cedar Rapids Jefferson and Ames coming into this one, opponents all considered lesser. But this win was the real deal, against a Dowling team that’s only 1-3 now but that has played a gauntlet of an early schedule.
Against a program that just considers getting to the UNI-Dome for the state semifinals and finals assumed.
“The people that have been supporting this program since the day I got here really makes this special,” said Moore, who came to City High this season from Des Moines Roosevelt. “To win it in front of them, this is what it should be. This is what makes Friday nights special.”
City High’s defense forced Dowling to punt from its own 3 with just over two minutes left. A short punt was fair caught at the Maroons 28.
Three runs took the ball to the Dowling 20. Then came the play of the game.
Out of the shotgun, sophomore quarterback Drew Larson handed the ball off to running back Joey Bouska, who ran left and handed off to receiver Gable Mitchell on an apparent reverse. But Mitchell immediately pitched back to Larson.
Kueter got lost in all the commotion and was wide open in the right corner of the end zone.
“I knew it’d work,” said Larson, who caught a reverse pass from Mitchell in the first half for a 5-yard trickeration touchdown. “It was wide open. Just don’t overthrow it, let him catch it. He’s wide open.”
“We’ve been running it all week in practice,” Kueter said. “They obviously weren’t expecting it. We just had to run it the right way. We had to take it slow, make it look like a jet (sweep), so they wouldn’t come after me. I kind of coasted into the end zone. Catch the ball.”
Khameron Middleton’s 12-yard TD run late in the third quarter after a Dowling interception put the Maroons on top, 17-14. His 1-yard touchdown run opened the scoring just 3:24 into the game.
Dowling, playing without top quarterback Jaxon Smolik, a potential Division I recruit who broke his collarbone in his team’s opening game, amassed just 145 total yards. This is the first time it has lost three games in a season since 2012, when it finished 9-3.
“To be honest, when they hit us in the mouth early, I felt no deflation,” Moore said. “When you play with anxiety, you’re going to play slower, you’re going to think slower. You are not going to communicate as well. When you play with contagious energy, positivity in everything you do, you’re not going to let situations bring you down.”
“I think this shows we’re one of the top teams in the state,” Larson said.
Dowling produced immediate lightning offensively. After forcing a City High punt on the opening possession of the game, Maroons quarterback Jake English went deep over the middle to slot receiver Cooper Nicholson for 47 yards to the City High 11.
Middleton eventually plunged over for the Dowling TD and a 7-0 lead after the extra point. A huge Dowling mistake later in the first quarter swung the momentum toward City High. An airmailed punt snap gave the Little Hawks a first down at the Dowling 26, with City High working the ball to the 5.
On fourth-and-2, wide receiver Mitchell took an apparent reverse right, pulled up and threw a touchdown pass to QB Larson, who had floated to the end zone uncovered. The extra point tied things at 7-7.
A Diego Leon 31-yard field goal early in the second gave Dowling the lead back, 10-7, but special teams again foiled the Maroons, with a short punt fair caught by City High’s Mitchell at the Dowling 33. A mixture of the run and pass brought the football to the 3, where Bouska scored from, putting City High ahead, 14-10.
That’s how the half ended.
Iowa City High 21, West Des Moines Dowling 17
AT BATES FIELD
10 First Downs 13
35-99 Rushes-Yards 38-112
46 Passing Yards 138
3-14-1 Comp.-Att.-Int. 16-29-1
145 Total Yards 250
6-40 Penalties-Yards 2-15
0-0 Fumbles-Lost 1-1
7-30.6 Punts-Avg. 5-35.2
West Des Moines Dowling 7 3 7 0-17
Iowa City High 7 7 0 7-21
WDMD-Khameron Middleton 1 run (Diego Leon kick)
ICH-Drew Larson 5 pass from Gable Mitchell (Kongalo Nwenemkamba kick)
WDMD-Leon 31 FG
ICH-Joey Bouska 4 run (Nwenemkamba kick)
WDMD-Middleton 12 run (Leon kick)
ICH-Ben Kueter 20 pass from Larson (Nwenemkamba kick)
RUSHING – Dowling: Khameron Middleton 21-93, C.J. Phillip 11-45, Jake English 1-7, Kellen Shimon 1-1, Team 1-(minus) 32. City High: Ronnie Major 14-50, Joey Bouska 13-32, Darren Richardson 5-15, Drew Larson 5-10, Gable Mitchell 1-5.
PASSING – Dowling: Jake English 3-14-1-46. City High: Drew Larson 7-15-1-79, Quinton Tron 7-12-0-50, Gable Mitchell 2-2-0-9.
RECEIVING – Dowling: Cooper Nicholson 1-47, Andrew Bliss 1-5, C.J. Phillip 1-(minus) 6. City High: Ben Kueter 4-39, John Klosterman 3-28, Jovon Harris 2-18, Akili Mattox 3-15, Ronnie Major 1-14, Jamari Newson 1-7, Drew Larson 1-5, Will Larson 1-5, Ian Moore 1-4, Gable Mitchell 2-3.
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