CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- Make that two in a row for the West Sioux Falcons.
As in state football championships.
One year after capturing the Iowa Class A title, West Sioux outscored top-ranked and previously unbeaten Dike-New Hartford 52-38 in a scintillating Class 1A championship tilt Friday at the UNI-Dome.
Hunter Dekkers threw for a 1A state title game record 391 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 120 yards and another score and the Falcons erased a seven-point deficit by scoring the final 21 points of the game.
Dekkers, a 6-3, 225-pound junior, tossed three scoring passes to classmate Kade Lynott, who also etched his name into the playoff record book. Lynott hauled in 10 passes for 203 yards, both 1A title game marks.
“I don’t have to get open as much, Hunter will find me and the play is never dead,” said Lynott, who had touchdown grabs of 5, 55 and 48 yards, “If he scrambles, you just have to break off your route and he will find you,”
There were so many ebbs and flows in this game that it was hard to discern who would ultimately have the upper hand.
Dike-New Hartford (12-1) had a 23-10 first-half lead evaporate, then took a 38-31 advantage with 8:55 left in the game.
That happened shortly after West Sioux (12-1) surged in front 31-23 with its 21st unanswered point when the left-handed Dekkers rolled to his right and threw across his body to Drake Millikan for a 45-yard touchdown with 51 seconds left in the third quarter.
Dike-New Hartford tied it at 31-31 as Parker Kiewiet caught his third touchdown pass of the game from Drew Sonnenberg, then caught a huge break when Lynott coughed up the ensuing kickoff and Cade Bennett gave his team the lead two plays later with a 2-yard run.
“Coach told me to keep my head up, I’ve been fumbling a lot lately,” Lynott said. “But you just have to keep battling. My teammates picked me up, we got a stop on defense and kept scoring.”
After West Sioux once again drew even on the 55-yard pass from Dekkers to Lynott, Dekkers intercepted an under-thrown pass from his safety position. The Falcons then created another turnover when Victor Hernandez drilled Sonnenberg from behind while he was throwing and Chase Koopmans intercepted.
That set up a perfect strike of 48 yards to Lynott, making it 45-38. Dike-New Hartford coughed up the ensuing kickoff and West Sioux’s Saul Ortiz recovered before Dekkers put the icing on the cake with a 25-yard run, his sixth touchdown of the game.
“It was a battle the whole game, each play was a battle,” said Dekkers, who completed 18 of 33 passes. “On the last play I told myself I had to get into the end zone to end this game.
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“It means a lot more winning it this year than last year. That sounds kind of weird since last year was the first time, but going up a class and proving that we could do it is just an awesome feeling.”
To capture their second title in a row, the Falcons had to knock off three straight unbeaten teams, downing South Central Calhoun, defending state champion Van Meter and Dike-New Hartford.
“That is by far the best game I’ve ever been a part of,” West Sioux Coach Ryan Schwiesow said. “I can’t give it to our kids enough, they were just fantastic. To have what happened to us happen, we fumble the kickoff and then the same kid makes a great play on a (touchdown) reception.
“It’s just a good life lesson that you’re never down, you’re never out and hopefully that’s what the kids learned.
“We told them all summer in the weight room there were some keyboard warriors on social media who told us we couldn’t do it and we printed those off and it just gives you momentum. The kids are the ones who have to do it, they put in all of the hard work and it paid off for them.”
Sonnenberg, who passed for 282 yards and four touchdowns, threw a 70-yarder to Cade Fuller on Dike-New Hartford’s first offensive play of the game.
West Sioux got a 41-yard field goal from Jason Topete, but the Mustangs took a 13-3 lead on Kiewiet’s first touchdown reception.
Koopmans did most of the work on a 68-yard scoring pass from Dekkers, stiff-arming a defender at around the 50-yard line and racing to the end zone, trimming the deficit to three points with 6:51 left in the first half.
A 52-yard bomb to Kiewiet and a 42-yard field goal increased the Dike-New Hartford cushion to 23-10, but West Sioux scored just before half on a 5-yard flip to Lynott.
The Falcons marched 93 yards in 11 plays on their first possession of the second half, then took a 31-23 lead on the scoring strike from Dekkers to Millikan.
Koopmans, a senior, finished with 118 yards on five catches.
“I can’t really describe the feeling right now, knowing we had doubts going into the season and people looking down on us,” Koopmans said. “Coming up and doing this, being down and coming back to win gives me goose bumps.”
West Sioux gave up 232 of Dike-New Hartford’s passing yards in the first half and limited Cade Bennett, who rushed for over 1,800 yards this season, to 77 on 22 carries.
“We had some success in the first half going over the top but they made some adjustments in the second half, I do know that,” Sonnenberg said. “They were probably double-teaming our outside receivers, I know they had four guys in the secondary in the second half. They just played a great game. We tried our hardest but they played a better game than us and they won.”