Prep Football

Van Meter runs past Iowa City Regina in Class 1A state football semifinals

QB Anthony Potthoff totals 296 total yards, 5 TDs in 49-17 Bulldogs win

CEDAR FALLS — Iowa City Regina football coach Marv Cook walked directly to Van Meter quarterback Anthony Potthoff in the postgame media room, extended his hand and complimented his rushing performance.

Sometimes all you can do is tip your cap when it’s due.

Potthoff ran for 140 yards and three touchdowns, passing for two more, as the second-ranked Bulldogs dropped Regina, 49-17, in a Class 1A state football semifinal Saturday at the UNI-Dome.

“They’re a great football team,” Cook said. “That is why they are what they are and we didn’t make enough plays.

“They made plays in the first half that got us behind the 8-ball. We tried the onside (kick) at halftime to get back in it and just couldn’t do it.”

Regina pulled out a few tricks, including the successful onside kick to start the second half, but was unable to shrink the scoring gap.

Potthoff was a big reason for the Bulldogs’ comfy lead for most of the game. He tallied 296 total yards, including 156 through the air. He had touchdown runs of 18 and 62 yards in the first half.

The latter closed a three-possession series that produced three TDs in 8:33, bridging the first two quarters. The Bulldogs (12-0) ran six plays, covering 204 total yards and increasing a 10-3 lead to an 18-point edge at the half.

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“It hurts to see them score,” Regina senior linebacker Josh Dutchik said of the scoring outburst. “We have to keep coming harder. It just stinks.”

The barrage began with a 63-yard TD pass from Potthoff to tight end Parker Fryar down the seam with 1:59 left in the first quarter. On the first play of the next drive, Potthoff hit Blade Koons, who made one defender miss and raced to a 52-yard score.

Van Meter was in rhythm and its confidence began to grow.

“It’s great,” Potthoff said. “It helps the defense a lot. They don’t get a lot of time to rest, but defending a lead is a lot easier than playing from behind.

“They’ve had some games where they’ve carried us, so it was really good to give them a break for once.”

After Regina’s Ashton Cook rolled to his left to buy time and hit Casey Daniel in a crowded end zone for a 5-yard TD, Potthoff scored on the 62-yarder to make it 28-10 with 5:26 to left before the break.

“Bad tackling and great execution on their part,” Marv Cook said. “We’re not setting the edge, not using the sideline as our friend and we have four opportunities to get the guy to the ground and we don’t.”

Ashton Cook had success with quick, short passes. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 210 yards, including a 62-yard score in the fourth to Chase Becker, who finished with 113 yards on seven catches.

“They weren’t giving us big plays,” Ashton Cook said. “Their corners were playing off and not letting us throw deep. That is what we like to do a lot, so they did a great job with that, making us throw shorter passes.”

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The Regals were held to their third-lowest yardage total of the season. They gained 295 yards, but just 85 on the ground.

“I thought our plan was good going in,” Marv Cook said. “We just didn’t run the ball as well as I would have hoped. That would have helped us a little bit.”

Regina was without one of its top receivers and cornerbacks in Alec Wick, who suffered a hip injury in the quarterfinal victory over No. 3 West Branch. It forced some different personnel to be on the field.

“We’re just trying to get guys on the field to help us,” Marv Cook said. “It wasn’t enough today.”

The Regals close the season 9-3 after returning to the state semifinals after a one-year hiatus, making their ninth UNI-Dome appearance in the last 10 seasons. They return a lot of experience for next season and this setback doesn’t damper what they have accomplished.

“A lot of people kind of counted us out at the beginning of the season, but we just ignored that,” Ashton Cook said. “We stuck to what we did and it turned out we fought hard every game. We got to the Dome, so I’m really proud of this team.”

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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