West Branch returns to the Class 1A state semifinals for the second straight season, facing an unranked Dike-New Hartford squad with a state finals berth on the line.
The Bears (11-0) reached the semifinals with wins over Clayton Ridge (35-13), Wapsie Valley (28-9) and North Cedar (37-12). It’s the Bear’s third straigfht trip to the state semifinals, losing a 14-7 contest last year and 27-7 to eventual state champion Emmetsburg in 2008.
Dike-New Hartford (10-2) beat Gladbrook-Reinbeck (33-14) in the opening round and then posted wins over Aplington-Parkersburg (35-12) and Woodward-Granger (34-27) to spoil their undefeated seasons. The win over A-P avenged one of its two losses this season. The other came at the hands of Saint Ansgar, which lost to Woodward-Granger in the second round.
The big matchup is West Branch’s defense, which allows only 8.1 points per game against the Wolverines offense, which includes 1,800-yard rusher Eric Joblinske and QB Josh Rekers, who has thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 18 TDs.
Offenses seem to move the ball but no points to show for it. West Branch drives to DNH 33, but a Brandon Young run comes up inches short and turns over on downs.
We’re scoreless after 1st.
DNH gets on the board first when Josh Rekers hits Bryce Pool for a 12-yd TD, capping a 60-yd, 12-play drive. PAT is good and DNH up, 7-0.
West Branch answers immediately. Cade Jones takes the pitch from Young and runs 67 yards for a TD on the Bears first offense play of the series. Jones outruns the defense then makes a nice cut and breaks a tackle around the 10 to reach the end zone. PAT by Young is good. 7-7 with 8:34 to go in second.
DNH defense holds tough again, forcing Bears to turnover the ball on downs in DNH territory. 51 seconds left and we’re 7-7. DNH ball at the 32.
We’re at the half with the scored tied 7-7.
West branch opens the first half and a bad pitch from Young to Jones is recovered by DNH. On the first offensive play, Rekers hits Pool for a 28-yd TD. Pool streaked down the left side of the field and the Wolverines lead, 14-7, with 10:05 to go in third.
West Branch is backed up in own territory after a DNH punt goes out at the 3. Young completes first down passes on two straight plays and Sid Thompson runs for 12 yards and another first down. Then Cade Jones strikes again, rushing 61 yards for the score, diving in from the 2. Tied 14-14.
DNH answers with a Joblinske score to go up, 21-14 with 4:31 to go.
West branch drives down the field and faces a 4th and 2 from the 27 with less than 20 seconds remaining. Youn g throws a pass to the end zone and it falls incomplete. DNH takes over with 10 seconds left.
Dike-New Hartford wins, 21-14, and advances to the state finals.