CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley boasts one of the fastest teams in the state, but the Nighthawks ran into one that is even faster in the Iowa Class 2A state football championship game Friday.
Top-ranked PCM Monroe completed an unbeaten season with a 28-7 triumph over No. 2 Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley at the UNI-Dome.
PCM’s relentless and lightning-quick defense gave the Nighthawks fits all day long. Some of that had to do with the fact that standout quarterback J.T. Van’t Hul wasn’t at full strength, but the Mustangs were clearly the better team in this one.
Van’t Hul, who passed for 1,956 yards and ran for 894 prior to Friday’s contest, re-injured an ankle in a 48-12 semifinal victory over Waukon last week. He originally hurt the ankle in his team’s only loss to Sergeant Bluff-Luton and missed a couple of games.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley Coach Cory Brandt, though, wasn’t about to use that as an excuse.
“We looked like we were missing a cylinder on offense sometimes today but you have to give credit to their defense, they played outstanding,” Brandt said. “They are extremely well-coached and did a great job, they’re state champs for a reason.
“But I couldn’t be more proud of a group of kids to do what they have done. We looked back and these guys have played over four seasons in the last three years. It’s incredible what this senior class has been through, what they’ve done, how they’ve prepared and led this program in the manner in which they have.”
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (11-2) reached the state championship game for the second time in the last three seasons. The Nighthawks won it all in 2016.
PCM’s Reed Worth passed for three touchdowns while Wes Cummings added 129 rushing yards and a scoring run, but it was the Mustangs’ defense that was the difference.
“They only gave up 30-some points in district play so we knew they were good but they played at a new level today,” Brandt said. “Give those guys a lot of credit. We were just off a little bit today for whatever reason and that happens sometimes.
“They had a lot of speed and hurt us a lot with what they did with that speed, but they’re very physical up front and gave us some problems there as well.”
Van’t Hul passed for 142 yards but was intercepted four times after throwing only six picks the entire season. He managed only 44 rushing yards on 13 carries and you could tell that the bum ankle affected his explosiveness and ability to showcase his breakaway speed.
“I could feel it about every play but it’s nothing to put the blame on,” Van’t Hul said. “We just needed to play a little better, I needed to play and prepare a little better.
“Coaches put me in position to make the right plays so I give credit to them and my brothers who played their heart out with me.”
PCM (Prairie City Monroe) won its first state football title in its first appearance in the playoffs since 2008.
“We know they had a solid defense and they’re the No. 2-ranked team in the state behind us,” Cummings said. “We knew they were going to be tough sons-a-guns and we knew they flew to the football and were real aggressive so we tried to establish the running game a little bit and then throw it over the top of them. Everything seemed to work. This has been an amazing season for us.”
PCM intercepted Van’t Hul’s third pass of the game and pulled out its bag of tricks on its very first offensive play.
Worth threw 55 yards to Preston VanWyk on a flea flicker, which was a sign of things to come.
Worth also tossed touchdown passes of 12 yards to Brayton VanDyke and 8 yards to Isaac Telfer, completing 16 of 27.
PCM Coach Greg Bonnett is a PCM graduate and former West Des Moines Dowling assistant.
“We relied on our defense all year long,” Bonnett said. “I told our kids all they had to do was react to their pressure and we had to bring a lot of heat with our defensive line.
“We just tried to stay focused and be in the moment, not to be ahead of ourselves, go one play at a time. And, yes, we did put in the special plays, we hadn’t run those all year long.”
The Mustangs also converted two fake punts and had four tackles for loss, including a sack.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley trailed 13-0 at halftime and it could have been worse, considering PCM missed a couple of field goals.
The Nighthawks pinned PCM its own one-foot line on a punt early in the third quarter and the Mustangs went nowhere and were forced to punt.
Van’t Hul threw incomplete into the end zone, but on the next play Cody Post made a nice catch while tumbling over the goal line, pulling BHRV to within 13-7.
The euphoria didn’t last long, as PCM drove 65 yards in seven plays, thanks in part to a 15-yard late hit penalty. Cummings burst seven yards for a touchdown and the Mustangs once again resported to trickery on the PAT attempt, with Worth, who doubles as the place kicker, took a direct snap and threw to Nick Dredge for a two-point conversion.