DYERSVILLE — The West Branch Bears played only one football game on their home turf this fall.
Friday night, they earned one more. At least.
The Bears spotted Dyersville Beckman the first touchdown, then roared back with the next 35 points and prevailed, 35-21, in a Class 1A District 5 showdown at Beckman High School.
“At halftime, the coaches asked us, ‘Who wants a district championship more?’” Bears quarterback Gavin Hierseman said.
Friday’s outcome, plus Cascade’s 42-41 overtime win over Durant, forged a virtual three-way tie atop the 1A-5 standings between West Branch (5-2, 3-1), Beckman (4-2, 4-1) and Cascade (5-2, 4-1).
All three figure to host at least one game, and maybe two, when the Iowa High School Athletic Association releases playoff pairings at noon Saturday.
West Branch looked like a team poised to stick around the postseason for a while. The Bears racked up 447 yards — 248 on the ground, 199 in the air.
“We’re getting better, no doubt,” West Branch Coach Butch Pedersen said. “I’ve always told my teams I wanted to be one of the best conditioned teams in the state.
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“I like the feel of where we are right now. I like the diversification of both our offense and our defense.”
Andy Henson rushed for 172 yards on 28 carries and scored three touchdowns, including a back-breaking 63-yarder on the Bears’ first possession of the second half that made it 21-6.
Hierseman completed 15 of 20 passes for 199 yards and two touchdowns, and added 81 rushing yards. And University of Iowa recruit Jeff Bowie was a menace at defensive end.
Beckman struck first on Nick Offerman’s 42-yard quarterback keeper early in the second quarter, but the Blazers couldn’t convert on the PAT, and West Branch owned the rest of the half.
Facing third-and-10 from their own 20, the Bears converted on Hierseman’s 21-yard keeper, then the Bears followed with two more big plays, and Henson’s 2-yard touchdown capped the drive. Cael Fiderlein added the extra-point kick, and West Branch had the lead — as it turned out, for good.
On their next drive, the Bears were 3-for-3 on third-down conversions. Hierseman connected with Simon Palmer for a 19-yard touchdown for a 14-6 advantage.
Offerman had 248 yards of total offense for the Blazers.
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