VAN HORNE — The ball backed up to their own goal line, midway through the third quarter, West Liberty’s leaders gave their own version of a pep talk.
One was direct.
“I just told the guys, we’re going to drive the ball down their throats, we’re going to use some clock, and we’re going to score,” quarterback Seth Feldman said.
The other, a bit more wistful.
“It was time to get this done and make our dreams come true,” added lineman Spencer Daufeldt.
Done, and done.
West Liberty embarked on a 99-yard touchdown drive, igniting a second-half onslaught and a 42-14 victory over No. 4 Benton Community in a Class 2A football quarterfinal Friday night at Benton Community High School.
The Comets (8-3) won their seventh straight game and advanced to the semifinals for the first time since 1987. They’ll meet No. 1 Monroe PCM — a 55-34 winner over Williamsburg — at 7 p.m. next Saturday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
It’s now a family thing for the Daufeldt clan.
“My dad made it (to the semifinals) his senior year, and I had to do it too,” Spencer said. “It’s a great experience. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
West Liberty scored the final 36 points, monopolizing the second half by a 30-0 margin on the scoreboard and 253-71 in yards.
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“It’s all in here,” Feldman said, tapping his chest. “All in the heart.”
Trailing 14-12 after a Benton punt died inside the 1, the Comets began their fateful drive. After a long incompletion on first down, West Liberty began gaining yards on the ground in chunks. A face-mask penalty moved the ball into Benton territory, then three plays later, Feldman connected with A.J. Lenz in the corner of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown pass, the go-ahead score. Feldman ran for the 2-point conversion and a 20-14 lead.
Benton (9-2) muffed the ensuing kickoff, West Liberty recovered, Coy Ruess scored from 2 yards out, and suddenly the Comets were up 28-14.
Another lengthy drive, a 95-yarder, proved to be the dagger. That march included four plays of 14 yards or more, including Feldman’s touchdown run that made it 35-14.
Ruess’ 11-yard run capped the scoring with 3:04 left.
Benton quarterback Clayton Krousie was pinpoint early, completing 11 of his first 12 passes for 150 yards. His 13th pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, tipped again, and intercepted. That came in the red zone late in the first half and Benton up 14-12.
Feldman rushed for 97 yards and passed for 100, and Gabriel Melendez ran for 121 yards on 15 carries for the victors.
Matt Davis had both of Benton’s touchdowns.
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