SIOUX CITY | Reaching the red zone wasn’t a problem for West Friday night.
Crossing the end zone was.
Four times in the Class 4A District 2 game, West was unable to score when it passed Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln’s 20-yard line. Late in the second quarter, the Wolverines were within two yards of scoring a tying touchdown on a 7-play, 58-yard series, but the drive ended on an interception by the Lynx.
Three turnovers, including two lost fumbles, were also a factor for the Wolverines in a 21-7 district defeat at Olsen Stadium. En route to ending a three-game losing streak, Abraham Lincoln (2-6, 1-3 District 2) scored nine plays after a fumble recovery from Jasper Stottlemyer, who incidentally, rushed for 55 of his 89 yards in the second half as his teammates tried to hold onto their narrow 14-7 lead.
“Turnovers and we couldn’t create any breaks,” said first-year West Coach Joe Schmitz, whose 2-6 (0-4 District 2) squad lost, despite a slim 303-294 total yards advantage.
“(Abraham Lincoln) got a few breaks on stuff and they got more first downs off of it. To me, we just couldn’t figure out how to get those breaks.”
West had a 209-119 total yards advantage at halftime. Schmitz’s squad rallied from a 14-0 deficit to pull within a touchdown as Alec Nieman grabbed his second touchdown catch of the season, a 12-yarder to complete a nice 13-play 68-yard scoring drive.
West quarterback Adien Belt (19 of 32, 249 yards passing) was efficient in the first half, completing 14 of 18 passes for 192 yards prior to throwing the interception to Esteban Gonzalez at CBAL’s 2-yard line. It was the Wolverines’ second turnover of the first half.
Turnovers have been among the factors in a West losing streak that has now reached six games. The Wolverines have turned in nine takeaways (4 interceptions, 5 fumble recoveries), but have also been guilty of 10 interceptions and four fumbles in the skid.
“It is what it is,” said Schmitz. “We have struggled with turnovers. We’re a young team. A lot of our receivers are underclassmen and the guys are learning the offense still. They’re learning how to be receivers and what we do. When that happens, you get inconsistency.”
West dodged a bullet when Stottlemyer missed a 28-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. With his team still trailing 14-7, Belt broke loose for gains of 28 and 23 yards on a drive that reached the 19-yard line following a four-yard gain from running back Micah McWell.
Belt, however, couldn’t convert passes on third and fourth down, marking yet another missed scoring opportunity for the Wolverines.
Abraham Lincoln scored on the ensuing series as quarterback Sean Lorenzen crossed the end zone on an 11-yard run to end an 81-yard drive.
Belt, who topped the 200-yard passing barrier for the third time this season, threaded passes to six different receivers. Dustin Saia, the Wolverines’ leading receiver this season, had five catches for 65 yards while Nieman had four for 67.
“It is what it is,” said Schmitz. “We’re a young program and we have to keep getting better. We have to keep hammering the little things and hopefully through all that detailed work, we can create our own breaks. Then, we keep it in our control and not someone else’s.”
West will conclude the season this Friday at Ankeny Centennial.