ALBURNETT – Drew Cook was all smiles leaving the football field Friday night.
The Iowa City Regina junior quarterback had plenty of reasons to be pleased.
Cook displayed the big-play ability in his right arm, throwing for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Class 1A top-ranked Regals to a 49-12 victory over Alburnett in a non-district prep football game at Alburnett Stadium. The Regals won their 48th straight game to take sole possession of third on the state’s all-time best unbeaten streak.
Cook spearheaded a quick-strike offense that threw deep, including five passes for 17 yards or more. Chucking the ball downfield is fun when it is successful and Cook had a blast with eight of his Regina receiving friends.
“You get excited when that works,” Cook said. “Basically, my job when that happens is I have to get the ball out of my hands and into the hands of a great athlete. I just did that well.”
He was quick to pass the praise around as much as he did his 15 completions. Cook said he had plenty of time to find the receivers that maneuvered across the field with precision, tallying 309 passing yards.
“I had all day back there,” Cook said. “The wide receivers ran great routes. They dealt with the sloppy conditions.”
Regina (6-0) trailed 6-0 after Alburnett (2-4) landed a proverbial punch to the mouth early, forcing a fumble on the opening drive and capitalizing with a Dylan Windfield 13-yard touchdown run.
On the second play of Regina’s next possession, Cook hit a wide open Conner Brown, who reeled in the pass and rolled the final 40 yards untouched. It gave the Regals a 7-6 lead less than halfway through the first.
“I think they had a broken coverage,” Brown said. “Drew threw a great pass and I got the touchdown.”
Brown finished with 101 receiving yards, adding a big 31-yard reception that helped set up Cook’s third TD pass, which was a 9-yarder to Bryan Amelon for a 42-12 lead in the third. According to quikstats, Brown didn’t have a catch before Friday night.
“Guys went down, I went in and got my shot,” Brown said. “I just tried to make what I could of the opportunity.”
The big play appeared again to drives later. Amelon’s interception gave the Regals the ball on their 35, Cook found Teddy Nepola behind Pirate defenders down the middle of the field for a one-play, 65-yard drive and 21-6 advantage.
“It’s one of those things where you want to take what the defense gives you and read it out,” Regina Marv Cook said. “I thought Drew did a good job of reading the progressions and making the plays and knowing where (offensive coordinator Ed) Hinkel wanted him to go with the football.”
Cook and Amelon, who finished with 54 receiving yards, teamed up for 37-yard gain to the Alburnett 4, following a kickoff recovery at midfield with 43 left until halftime. The pass set up Riley Dixon’s second TD run of the game, making it 35-12 at the break.
Dixon made his first appearance since hurt his ankle in a Week 3 win over West Branch. He said he had nerves during the first carry, but felt good, leading Regina with 74 rushing yards.
“I wasn’t even supposed to be ready by next week,” Dixon said. “To be out here tonight was awesome.”
Cook had only four incompletions, hitting Nick Phillips four times for 50 yards. He completed 12 straight passes attempts and 14 of his last 16. Marv Cook noted that is a product of protection, timing by receivers and a cohesive unit.
“It’s an 11-person machine and it all works together,” Marv Cook said. “It is a team effort. It says that our team was in a nice little groove for a little bit.”
The Regals expected a challenge Friday night, recalling a whipping Regina wrestlers took at the hands of the Pirates as they pulled into town, according to Cook. The rebounded from that early blow and took control the rest of the way, capping the scoring with Cliff Wagner’s 8-yard interc“It definitely does get your attention,” Marv Cook said. “Ultimately, our kids responded and locked some things down defensively and we just made enough plays offensively to get a cushion.”eption return in the fourth.
Alburnett never back down from the Regals They battled, pulling within 28-12 in the final minute of the second quarter when Alec Philipp hit Kolton Rose for a 28-yard touchdown on 4th and 3. Rose caught a pass in the flat, turned inside, made another move and then fought his way into the end zone.
Alburnett Coach Chris Evers said the effort is indicative of his player’s toughness and passion to compete on the football field.
“I’m proud of how our kids played,” said Evers, in his fifth year as Pirates head coach. “There’s so much gas in our tank and we got all the way down to the “E” and a little below.”
Evers noted Regina’s talent and depth were hard to match and the Pirates had to be close to flawless. He said he didn’t want to take anything with the way the Pirates fought.
“We have to play perfect and stop everything,” Evers said. “They’re high school kids. We can’t play perfect. We just don’t have enough bullets in the gun that we can make a mistake and catch up to it.”
Philipp finished with 193 yards passing and added 66 on the ground. Rose posted a game-high 109 receiving yards. The Pirates had 322 total yards of offense, which is the most Regina has allowed this season. Alburnett actually owned an advantage in first downs.
Windfield added 41 rushing yards, with Dylan Miller adding more than 100 yards of total offense.
“Homecoming is a tough environment,” Marv Cook said. “Their coaches and players handled it extremely well, and gave us a great football game.
“I was extremely impressed with the way they played.”
Regina travels to Wilton next week, while Alburnett heads to Durant. The Pirates will need to play their best to make a run at the postseason.
“We don’t take anything for granted,” Evers said. “We’ve lost four in a row. All four have been in the top 10. We didn’t play real well, but we’ve gotten better.
“Durant is a good team on offense and defense,” Evers said. “We have to execute.”
IC Regina 49, Alburnett 12
|TEAM STATISTICS||IC Regina||Alburnett|
|Rushes-yards||26 - 119||38 - 129|
|Comp-Att-Int||15 - 20 - 0||12 - 24 - 3|
|Fumbles-lost||2 - 2||2 - 1|
|Punts-average||2 - 50.5||5 - 42.4|
|Penalties-yards||2 - 20||3 - 15|
Rushing: IC Regina – Riley Dixon 9-74 , Nick Phillips 3-19 , Jake Brinkman 4-17 , Cliff Wagner 4-15 , Eric Bracken 2-5 , Michael Adam 1-2 , Drew Cook 2--11 , Team 1--2 Alburnett – Alec Philipp 12-66 , Dylan Windfield 12-41 , Dylan Miller 9-32 , Connor Shulista 3--3 , Team 2--7
Passing: IC Regina – Cook 15-19-0-309 , Wagner 0-1-0-0 Alburnett – Philipp 12-24-3-193
Receiving: IC Regina – Conner Brown 2-101 , Bryan Amelon 3-54 , Phillips 4-50 , Teddy Nepola 1-65 , Adam 1-17 , Cale Lehman 1-9 , Brinkman 1-7 , Dixon 2-6 Alburnett – Kolton Rose 7-109 , Miller 4-70 , Team 1-14
SCORE BY QUARTERS
ALB - Windfield 13 run (kick blocked)
ICR - Brown 70 pass from Cook (Jacob Adam kick)
ICR - Brinkman 2 run (J. Adam kick)
ICR - Nepola 65 pass from Cook (J. Adam kick)
ICR - Dixon 8 run (J. Adam kick)
ALB - Rose 28 pass from Philipp (pass failed)
ICR - Dixon 4 run (J. Adam kick)
ICR - Amelon 9 pass from Cook (J. Adam kick)
ICR - Wagner 8 interception return (J. Adam kick)