CEDAR FALLS — Leading 35-28 midway through the third quarter, Iowa City Regina faced a moment of reckoning.
But it was only a moment.
Second-ranked Regina quickly stifled a hiccup, and went on to handle No. 3 Saint Ansgar, 49-28, in a Class A state football semifinal Friday morning at the UNI-Dome.
“Before we went back out there, I got everybody together and told them we needed to get that one back,” Regina quarterback Ashton Cook said. “They got a momentum shift their way, and we needed to go down and score and get it back.”
The Regals (10-1) did it, controlled the rest of the game and will play for the championship at 2 p.m. Thursday against No. 1 Grundy Center (11-0).
“We’re playing at a pretty high level right now,” Regina Coach Marv Cook said.
Regina never trailed, and held a 35-21 lead when Ashton Cook got loose for a 21-yard touchdown run with 6:53 left in the third quarter. The Regals forced the Saints (10-1) into a three-and-out, and appeared on the verge of putting the game away.
Alec Wick received a punt, made a couple of moves, and was stripped of the ball at the Regina 45. After the ball bounced along the turf, Saint Ansgar’s Carter Salz picked it up and ran 41 yards for a touchdown.
It could have been disastrous for the Regals, but it was just a mere blip.
After the ensuing kickoff, Cook was sacked for an 11-yard loss. The next play, though, he connected with Wick down the left sideline for a 36-yard gain. Eight plays later, Cook found Levi Quinlan on a 7-yard shovel pass for a touchdown and a 42-28 lead.
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“It was back to a seven-point game, and we were hoping to get back on top and re-establish some momentum,” Coach Cook said.
That was one key moment. The other came on the final play of the first half.
The teams traded touchdowns through most of the half, with Regina taking leads of 7-0, 14-7 and 21-14, and the Saints answering each time, the last on a 32-yard run by Justin Horgen with 2:19 left in the half.
That was enough time for the Regals to muster another scoring drive. They went 77 yards in nine plays, with Theo Kolie scoring on a 2-yard sweep to the right side on fourth down as time expired.
“Huge two-minute drive for us,” Coach Cook said. “It wasn’t as clean as I would like, but Theo got in the end zone, and it was big, because they were getting the second-half kickoff.”
“The line did a great job all day,” said Kolie, who rushed for 159 yards and three touchdowns. “And the receivers did a great job blocking downfield. We played hard, and I think we played the most physical.”
Cook completed 17 of 23 passes for 251 yards, ran for three touchdowns and passed for another. Wick caught nine passes for 128 yards.
Saint Ansgar’s Ryan Cole entered the game with 1,918 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns, but the Regals held him to 69 yards and kept him out of the end zone Friday. Cole did catch three passes for 106 yards, and threw an early touchdown pass.
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