IOWA CITY — Iowa City West had more than its share of problems slowing down Dubuque Hempstead in the first half of Friday’s night’s Class 4A third-round game at Trojan Field.
The second half was a different story.
West’s defense allowed just one score over the final 24 minutes and senior quarterback Marcus Morgan made the big plays when called upon, lifting the Trojans to a 38-24 victory at Trojan Field.
No. 5 West (5-0) advances to a quarterfinal round contest next Friday night at Pleasant Valley. The Spartans held off Bettendorf, 10-6, to advance.
No. 7 Hempstead closes at 7-2.
“That’s a well-coached, physical, strong team,” said West Coach Garrett Hartwig of the Mustangs. “Both teams had to get adjusted to each other and we just kept swinging and it worked out.”
The Trojans had trouble containing Hempstead quarterback Aiden Dunne in the first half as he picked apart the West secondary and scored on a nifty 42-yard run in the second quarter.
“We had them scouted really well,” said West senior Grahm Goering, who caught a pair of touchdown passes from Morgan and had a clinching interception in the game’s final three minutes. “There were a couple of times our offense had to carry our defense and our defense had to carry our offense.”
Even as West was figuring out the Mustangs offense in the second half, nothing came easy for the Trojans when they had the ball.
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“They have the best defensive line we’ve seen all year,” Hartwig said. “They were real tough to deal with.”
Which brings it back to Morgan. After a somewhat pedestrian first half, the West quarterback took control in the second half, leading his team on three scoring drives. Two finished with the TD passes of 19 and 5 yards to Goring.
The third was vintage Morgan. He broke through the line on a designed quarterback run and looked like he might go out of bounds. However, he was able to tightrope the sideline, then dove over the goal line to complete a 39-yard scoring run. That TD gave West a two-score lead with under five minutes to play.
“He’s a better person than he is a player,” Hartwig said of Morgan. “He will be the first one to tell you that he isn’t alone out there. It’s a complete team and Marcus is at the forefront of that, but he understands it takes all of us.”
Morgan finished 21-of-32 passing for 235 yards and two scores. He rushed for two more. Goering had seven catches for 92 yards.
Dunne led Hempstead with 17 completions in 28 attempts for two scores. He also rushed for 77 yards.
AT TROJAN FIELD
First downs 18 20
Rushes-yards 24-110 31-103
Passing yards 221 235
Comp-Att-Int 17-28-2 21-32-2
Punts-Avg. 3-35.0 2-43.0
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-Yards 7-35 6-70
Dubuque Hempstead 10 7 0 7 — 24
Iowa City West 3 14 7 14 — 38
ICW — FG Owen Smith 28
DH — FG Ben Jaeger 42
DH — Noah Pettinger 16 pass from Aidan Dunne (Jaeger kick)
ICW — Marcus Morgan 4 run (Smith kick)
DH — Dunne 42 run (Jaeger kick)
ICW — Trey King 3 run (Smith kick)
DH — Dunne 42 run (Jaeger kick)
ICW — Grahm Goring 19 pass from Morgan (Smith kick)
DH — Max Moldt-Culbertson 10 pass from Dunne (Jaeger kick)
ICW — Goring 5 pass from Morgan (Smith kick)
ICW — Morgan 39 run (Smith kick)
RUSHING - Hempstead: Aidan Dunne 13-77, Zach Sabers 7-34, Jalen Smith 3-6, Team 1-(minus 7). IC West: Marcus Morgan 10-45, Trey King 13-51, Taylon Mann 2-6, Fabian Brown 5-3, Team 1-(minus 2) .
PASSING - Hempstead: Aidan Dunne 17-28-2-221,. IC West: Marcus Morgan 21-32-2-235.
RECEIVING - Hempstead: Jackson Ostrander 6-71, Ty Hancock 5-63, Zach Sabers 1-1, Max Moldt-Culbertson 3-33, Noah Pettinger 2-58. IC. West: Grahm Goering 7-92 , Damarion Williams 3-14, Trey King 3-65, Eric Torres-Castro 5-58, Mikey Brown 3-26.