CEDAR FALLS — Cedar Rapids Washington made its case as one of the top teams in the state this season.
But, any questions as to who was actually No. 1 were answered in convincing fashion by West Des Moines Dowling.
Third-ranked Dowling, led by quarterback Ryan Boyle, rolled to its second-straight Class 4A title, defeating No. 1 Cedar Rapids Washington, 49-14, in the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 4A state championship game last night at the UNI-Dome. It was the fifth overall title for the Maroons (13-1) and third in the last five seasons.
Washington finished 13-1 and reached the championship for the second time in school history.
“They accomplished a lot,” said Washington Coach Paul James, who also guided the Warriors to the 2003 final. “Dowling is a good team and they shut us down.”
The loss, and likely the manner it was handed to them, was hard for the Warriors to swallow. It didn’t overshadow their effort or the fact they swept their way through the East side of the state and played in the final game of the year.
“It’s amazing what we were able to accomplish this year,” Washington quarterback Reid Snitker said. “All the credit goes to the coaches and teammates. We worked so hard over the summer. We just have to keep our heads up.”
Boyle, a University of Iowa commit, proved to be too much in the first half, helping the Maroons build a 28-7 lead at the break. He racked up 182 of his 207 total yards of offense in the first half, including 128 on the ground, and four touchdowns.
He capped drives with touchdown runs of 4 and 2 yards, giving the Maroons a 14-0 lead with 5:03 left in the first.
“He’s definitely the best quarterback we’ve seen all year,” said senior linebacker Connor Vincent, who led Washington with nine tackles. “He’s really good at extending the play. He can obviously throw a great ball. He’s only thrown one pick all year, so it was different seeing a quarterback that good.”
Dowling added two more scores in the second quarter. Boyle hit Eric Fordal for a 6-yard TD, scrambling, forcing the defense to react and throwing as he reached the line of scrimmage. Boyle scored from one yard out for his third rushing TD with 1:55.
Other than an 83-yard, 11-play drive that resulted in a Johnny Dobbs 2-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the third quarter, the Warriors struggled to consistently move the ball against the Maroons quick and disciplined defense.
“I think where the game was won or lost was up front,” James said. “I just don’t think we were effective up front on offense or defense.”
Snitker’s scrambles were the most successful offensive plays early. Dowling’s quick defense caused fits for the Warriors. He routinely scrambled for big plays, including gains of 30 and 22 to set up the Dobbs’ touchdown. He led Washington with 78 rushing yards. Snitker said he tried to take whatever was available.
“He refuses to lose,” James said. “He stepped up and did what he could to try and help us win.”
Field position favored Dowling in the opening half. The Maroons started three of its scoring drives inside the Warriors’ 45, capitalizing on a turnover on downs at the Washington 32 on its first possession when fumbled snap forced the punter to run. The longest scoring in the first half was 64 yards.
Two of three scoring drives in the second half started in Warrior territory. Defending a short field is a tough task, especially against a high-powered offense.
“It’s really tough when you have a team that can both run and pass the ball,” Vincent said. “There is a lot of pressure.”
Warriors may have had a puncher’s chance, coming back from the break, but Dowling may delivered the knockout blow when another short field led to Gray Gochenour’s 9-yard TD run and a 35-7 lead. Dowling set a 4A championship game record with seven touchdowns and 49 points. Iowa City High previously held the points record, putting up 45 in 1996.
Landen Akers put Washington in the state record books. He returned a fourth-quarter kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, marking the first time that has been done in the 42-year history of the 4A title game. It didn’t cure the sting of settling for second.
“It eases it a little bit but we still didn’t achieve our overall goal,” Akers said. “That kind of upsets me.”
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