CEDAR FALLS – Waukon’s first visit to the UNI-Dome was memorable.
The Indians have a chance to make a few more memories at the football stadium.
In its first state semifinal appearance, fourth-ranked Waukon defeated No. 2 Albia, 27-21, last night to advance to the Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 2A state championship. The Indians (12-1) will face top-ranked Carroll Kuemper (13-0) on Friday at 2:06 p.m.
Senior running back Marcus Weymiller was impressive, making his biggest impact right at the start of the second half. Weymiller, who had 150 total yards at halftime including 108 receiving, ran off right tackle, angling to the outside and bolting 63 yards for a touchdown.
The score was his third of the game, and when quarterback Parker Hesse waltzed in for the two-point conversion, the Indians had the lead for good at 21-14.
Weymiller and Hesse served as a potent pair. Weymiller had 266 yards of total offense, including more than 150 rushing and three touchdowns. Hesse had 116 yards rushing and 131 passing. Hesse’s 4-yard TD run with 1:27 left in the third, increasing the lead to 27-14.
Albia threatened late on an Alex Schultz TD run with 8:44 remaining, but Waukon slammed the door shut in the final two minutes, sacking quarterback Brett Leshen twice for a total loss of 15 yards, which lead to Hesse kneeling down to burn the clock.
It was Albia (12-1) that opened the scoring. Those devious Blue Demons deceived the Indians to strike first. Tight end Luke Sarver took the pitch from Leshen on a reverse, but pulled up and hit split end Zach Hugen on a flag route when a Waukon defender fell. Hugen turned upfield, cut to the inside and completed the 52-yard TD reception.
Three plays later, Weymiller provided the boost Waukon needed to take its first lead. He had two short runs and then reeled in his own 52-yard touchdown catch. Weymiller slipped behind two defenders down the center of the field and ran underneath a nicely lofted pass from Hesse, tying it at 7 apiece.
Weymiller reached the end zone again on the next possession, running in from six yards out, closing a 9-play, 64-yard drive. The extra-point attempt was blocked, holding Waukon’s lead to 13-7 with 5:05 to go in the first half.
The blocked kick was one of a few mistakes that hampered the Indians in the first half. The Indians suffered a fumble and an interception in Albia territory before the scoring drives.
Albia melted 4:34 seconds off the clock, driving 84 yards on 15 plays. Schultz capped the drive with a 1-yard run left of center. Justin Bossard’s kick was good, putting the Blue Demons ahead, 14-13, with 25 seconds left before halftime.
Waukon makes its first trip to the state championship game. The Indians face another first-timer.
Kuemper advanced with a 28-6 victory over Sioux Center in the other 2A semifinal, reaching the championship game for the first time in three semifinal appearances in school history. The Knights qualified for the postseason 12 times, including the last 10 years.