Prep Football

Iowa high school football rewind: West Liberty wins another thriller on blocked kick return

Comets return blocked field goal as time expires to knock off No. 2 Williamsburg; Sieren scores 26; Win streaks

West Liberty's Lake Newton celebrates the Comets blocking a Tipton point after attempt following a Tigers touchdown duri
West Liberty's Lake Newton celebrates the Comets blocking a Tipton point after attempt following a Tigers touchdown during a playoff game last year. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)

The finish was unbelievable.

West Liberty senior Lake Newton was still trying to wrap his mind around what happened, how it happened. Comets Coach Jason Iske admitted he had never experienced anything like the ending that was splashed all over Twitter by the end of Friday night.

“I’ve watched it countless times already, but living it was a whole different feeling,” Newton said. “It was really amazing. I’m thankful to God that he put the ball in my hands. As soon as I got it, I knew I had to go.”

West Liberty turned second-ranked Williamsburg’s potential go-ahead field goal into its own game-winning score as time expired when Newton clutched the blocked attempt and bolted about 60 yards for the touchdown and 20-14 victory in the Class 2A football playoffs at the Raiders’ Bob Murphy Stadium.

 

The victory was the Comets’ second straight postseason thriller over a ranked foe on the road. They topped No. 10 Mount Vernon, 26-20 in overtime, to reach the round of 16.

“We’ve got some good players,” Iske said. “We’ve got different guys that step up at different times.”

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The Comets (6-2) have a knack for playing tougher as the game progresses. The attitude has been ingrained in the players by previous classes. Confidence exists as long as they’re in the game.

“We know we’re going to come together as a team, as a family, in the second half to really fight for us and that win,” Newton said. “Everybody can doubt us but we’re going to fight until that last whistle is blown.”

The Raiders drove down the field in the final minute and lined up for about a 39-yarder in the last seconds. Iske said he thought they could overpower the right side of Williamsburg’s line. The rush produced the needed penetration and 6-foot-4, 240-pound senior Kobe Simon led the push for the block.

Newton and Jahsiah Galvan came off the edge and Newton was in the perfect spot at the perfect time.

“I heard it block and I felt myself look in to try to look for the ball and it just felt it in my arms,” Newton said. “I felt it land right there. I just took off.”

Newton said his only focus was to keep his balance with nothing but open field in front of him and a couple blockers on his heels. Once he got to the end zone, he looked for any penalty flags and when he realized there were none it was time to celebrate. He was tackled by teammates in the end zone.

“There’s no feeling like it,” Newton said, “Just being a senior, being a playoff game, either we get that block or they have a pretty good chance of making it. There’s just nothing like it.”

The dramatics started before the final play. West Liberty trailed 14-7 and faced fourth-and-long with a little more than a minute remaining. Quarterback Caleb Wulf was flushed from the pocket, getting pressured the entire game, and Galvan, who had released. Galvan raced 30 yards for a TD.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

“We go from having a fourth-and-11 and the end of the season to scoring on that 30-yard play to tie it up,” Iske said. “Two fantastic athletes making plays. We have two more kids make plays on the blocked field goal to win it. That’s what it really comes down to. We’ve got players and they made plays.”

Galvan has been a huge key to West Liberty’s success, especially offensively. He scored the Comets’ first two touchdowns. Galvan entered the Williamsburg game with 1,383 yards rushing with 11 TDs. He also had an interception Friday, giving him a team-high three this season.

“He’s meant everything,” Iske said. “Offense, defense, special teams, the guy does it all. If people don’t know about him yet, I hope you know about him now. He’s a heck of a player. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”

Ninth-ranked Camanche (8-1) stands between West Liberty and a second trip to the semifinals in the last three seasons. Camanche won the regular-season matchup, 20-0.

“We played them Week 5,” Iske said. “They were our district’s champion. They got the better of us. We’re looking forward to seeing them again.”

Sam Sieren scores 26

Sigourney-Keota’s Sam Sieren accounted for 26 points in the team’s 35-14 home victory Friday night over Dyersville Beckman. The Cobras advance to the Class 1A state quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.

Sieren rushed for 225 yards on 35 carries and scoured four touchdowns. He also added a 2-point conversion. Sieren increased his season totals to 1,281 yards and 21 scores. Sieren was Sigourney-Keota’s top returning rusher from a year ago, amassing 1,122 yards and 13 TDs as a junior.

Third-ranked Sigourney-Keota (9-0) hosts No. 10 Waterloo Columbus (8-1) next.

Win streaks

Class 1A top-ranked OABCIG won its 22nd straight football game Friday night, beating Western Christian, 41-14. The Falcons were the 2A champions last year and are one of four teams with double-digit streaks. Top-ranked and defending 8-player champion Don Bosco is right behind with 21 in a row after its 44-38 victory over Tripoli.

Pleasant Valley (4A) and Webster City (3A) have won 10 straight games.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

The longest Gazette-area win streak is shared by four teams. Cedar Rapids Xavier, Iowa City West, Montezuma and Sigourney-Keota all advanced to the quarterfinals with their ninth straight victory. Some extend into last season.

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

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.