AKRON, Iowa -- West Hancock took advantage of a couple of early Akron-Westfield mistakes and turned good field position into short scoring drives on its way to a 50-14 victory over the Westerners in Class A quarterfinal football action here Friday night.
The Eagles put up 36 points in the first half while limiting a high-powered Westerner offense to a single touchdown.
West Hancock broke out early against the Westerners as Bennett Bruns intercepted a pass at midfield and returned it 30 yards to give the Eagles a short field on their first drive. Tate Hagen would get the touchdown, and following a two-point conversion pass, the Eagles led 8-0.
Akron-Westfield then turned the ball over on a fumbled snap while in punt formation which gave the Eagles the ball at the 31-yard line. On third and goal, from the 21-yard line, Bruns gained 18 yards on an inside trap to the 3-yard line. Hagen scored on fourth down to push the advantage to two touchdowns.
Akron-Westfield got on the scoreboard on the last play of the first quarter as quarterback Nick Jacobs burst in from two yards out. The key play in the drive was a 48-yard pass from Jacobs to Josh Armstrong. A two-point conversion pass to Chase Stowe made the score 16-8.
Following a short kickoff, West Hancock used a short field for its third-consecutive drive, which was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Cole Kelly, a sophomore backup who moved to tailback to replace the injured Hagen.
Kelly ripped off a 30-yard jaunt to start West Hancock’s following possession. Kelly then ended a 64-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown run that boosted West Hancock’s lead to 28-8 with 4:06 remaining in the half.
West Hancock ended the half by marching 54 yards and getting a touchdown with four seconds left on a 17-yard pass from Brayden Leerar to Caleb Eckels. The two-point conversion by Kelly sent the Westerners to the locker room trailing 36-8.
Akron-Westfield charged out of the locker room with plenty of emotion as Jacobs capped a three-play 36-second scoring drive with a 1-yard run to make it 36-14.
West Hancock responded with one of the most important drives of the evening. The Eagles chewed up nearly seven minutes of the third quarter in a drive that ended with a 6-yard touchdown run by Josef Smith to make the score 42-14 with less than five minutes remaining in the frame.
The visiting Eagles would add a 32-yard touchdown scamper by Kelly midway through the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
Kelly finished with 190 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. The Eagles rushed for 351 yards in a 367-yard effort in total offense.
Quarterback Nick Jacobs completed 23 of 29 passes for 248 yards in his last football game for the Westerners, an outfit limited to 24 yards rushing on the night.
“West Hancock is a very physical team,” said Akron-Westfield coach Eric Walkingstick. “We would have preferred getting into more of a horse race up and down the field.”
Walkingstick disclosed that his quarterback suffered an injury in the victory over Westwood last week and was operating at 50 percent strength. “I thought about not playing Nick, but he said he could not leave his senior classmates and his teammates behind," he said.
Walkingstick was coaching with a heavy heart on Friday night as his mother, Mary Walkingstick, of Chelsea, Oklahoma, died on Thursday. Walkingstick and his family planned to leave for Oklahoma on Saturday morning. For the head coach, there was little doubt that he would be on the sideline Friday evening. “These boys committed to me, so I committed to them.”
Akron-Westfield, the 2015 state runner-up and 2002 state champion, ended the campaign with an 8-3 record.
West Hancock, whose head coach Bob Sanger has guided state champions in 1973 and 1996, takes a 9-2 record into a state semifinal matchup on Friday at the UNI Dome. Sanger, who is in his 51st year as a head coach at West Hancock, has directed teams to the state finals on six occasions.
Sanger's son, Mark Sanger, an assistant coach, praised the Eagles for capitalizing on a couple of Westerner mistakes in the early going, turning those short drives into touchdowns. He also lauded the effort of the offensive line and that of Kelly, the backup who turned in a career-best effort off the bench.
"He's (Cole Kelly) is a good player, we knew what we had in him," Sanger said. "He's very talented and did a great job for us."
Sanger indicated leading rusher Tate Hagen likely could have returned to action during the second half if pressed. With Kelly's production and the point margin being what it was during that half, the West Hancock coaches could afford to keep Hagen on the sidelines in their quest to have him at 100 percent for the semifinals come Friday.
BHRV 48, SOUTHEAST VALLEY 6: J.T. Van’t Hul finished with 266 yards of total offense and five touchdowns as the Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley football team defeated Southeast Valley 48-6 in a Class 2A quarterfinal game on Friday in Hull, Iowa.
Van’t Hul completed 6 of 13 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns while also running 10 times for 116 yards and three scores. Elliot Van Kekerix finished with eight carries for 70 yards and one score along with five catches for 82 yards and another touchdown for BHRV.
Nyles Johnson scored the lone touchdown for Southeast Valley (8-3) on a reception from Hunter Kruse.
BHRV plays Waukon in the state semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the UNI Dome.
WEST SIOUX 34, SOUTH CENTRAL CALHOUN 20: Kade Lynott finished with 264 all-purpose yards and one touchdown as the West Sioux football team downed undefeated South Central Calhoun 34-20 in a Class 1A state quarterfinal game on Friday in Lake City, Iowa.
Lynott finished with 17 carries for 131 yards and six receptions for 133 yards with a 71-yard touchdown reception. Hunter Dekkers completed 14 of 26 passes for 246 yards and three touchdowns for West Sioux (10-1). Trevor Schuller caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Dekkers. Dekkers final touchdown pass came on a pass to Lynott that was fumbled at the 1-yard line and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown by Jared Nohava.
"It was a hard-fought game, one of the toughest we've been involved in over the last two years," said West Sioux Coach Ryan Schwiesow, "South Central Calhoun is great football team.
"We shot ourselves in the foot early but persevered and fought through it.'
Jared Birks caught five passes for 127 yards with an 85-yard touchdown reception for South Central Calhoun. Keagan Meyer ran for 106 yards on 23 carries and scored on a 12-yard run.
South Central Calhoun ends its season at 10-1.
West Sioux play next in the semifinals on Saturday, Nov. 10 at the UNI Dome.
TEA 28, WEST CENTRAL 0: Wyatt Vantol caught a touchdown pass, ran for another and returned an interception for a score as Tea Area advanced to the Class 11A state championship game with the win in Tea on Friday.
Hunter West hit Vantol on a 12-yard TD score for the first touchdown of the game in the second quarter. Carter Slykhuis then ran one in from seven yards in the third quarter. Vantol would get into the end zone for the second time on a 1-yard plunge in the third quarter to make it 21-0.
The final score came on Vantol's 41-yard interception return for score with 1:54 remaining in the game.
Vantol finished with 96 yards rushing while quarterback West threw for 111 yards.