IOWA CITY — Big penalties and missed opportunities plagued the Iowa City West High Trojans Friday night at home against Dubuque Hempstead.
But big plays propelled the Trojans to a 41-17 MVC win.
Jeremy Morgan set the table early in the first quarter with an interception. Although his run was cut short by a Mustang, the Trojans were in position to score, and Colin Baker did just that with 10:07 remaining in the quarter. Alex Troester’s PAT kick was good, and West had an early 7-0 lead.
The Trojans nearly scored again with 4:39 left as Dondre Alexander took a long pass from quarterback Charles Rogers, and ran it in for a touchdown. However, the zebras had tossed their flags up-field, erasing Alexander’s TD and dragging West back deep into their own territory. Mondo Williams took the ball and scurried, danced, dodged, scampered and flat-out ran 90 yards for West’s second TD. Troester’s PAT failed, but West had the 13-0 edge.
The Mustangs retaliated early in the second, scoring on a short run with 11:38 left in the half. The good PAT kick made it a 13-7 ballgame. A pair of costly penalties and a fumble set the Mustangs up for a first and ten situation on West’s 15 yard line, then to the tying touchdown. A successful PAT nudged the Mustangs ahead 14-13.
The Trojans quickly recovered with a Rogers to Morgan pass for a touchdown with 4:01 left in the half. Troester’s kick made it 20-14. Rogers kept the ball with thirty seconds remaining and put up another TD. A successful two-point conversion play gave West a slight sense of comfort, up 28-14 at the break.
The third quarter opened with a West drive ended by a penalty dragging the Trojans way back into the depths of their territory. Stalled, the Trojans punted on a fourth and long situation, which started a long ride by the Mustangs. Trojan defense stymied the horses from Dubuque, leaving them to settle for a field goal with 5:54 left in the quarter. Hempstead’s kick-off found its way to the Trojan end zone, prompting a touchback and West started out on their own 20 yard line.
Again, penalties took their toll on the Trojans, breaking up what could’ve been another successful drive, but one which ended with a fumble and the Mustangs recovering. Fortunately, the quarter ended with West still ahead 28-17.
Rogers scored his second TD of the night on another keeper with 8:44 left in the game. Troester’s kick was good and West was up 35-17. Alexander took a pass from Rogers with 2:23 left to seal the win.
Wholesale changes in West’s lineup gave several of the reserves a chance under the lights. Freshman Kevin Dowell made a few carries in the closing minutes of the game and put the Trojans in position to score again, but time ran out.
“We’ve had them (Hempstead) in our heads all week” Rogers said. With the Mustangs an obstacle for West the past few years, the win was relished. Acknowledging the ten penalties, he said they were “not what we would’ve wanted; we know how to play better.” But, he added, the night showed the Trojans know how to put points on the board.
West improved to 2-0 heading into the coming skirmish with City High in the annual “Battle of the Boot.” City kept the traveling trophy last year after a lengthy lightning delay in a game played in steady rain.
“We’ve got a better chance of taking it this year” Alexander said, “we just gotta keep pushing.”