(Photo by Michael Fischer)
Bishop Heelan should be happy not to deal with Spencer anymore this year.
Twice in less than two weeks Heelan played host to the Tigers, this time in the 2nd-round of the Class 3A playoffs Monday night at Memorial Field in Sioux City. Spencer, who beat Heelan 21-14 Oct. 19, gave the Crusaders all they could handle once again, but couldn't keep pace as they fell 57-35 in a game that was much closer than the final score would indicate.
In a scoring see-saw game, Spencer would lead twice, including 35-33 in the third quarter. Heelan's offensive attack, along with an interception, blew the game open in the fourth quarter with 22 unanswered points to advance to the 3A quarterfinal against Lewis Central on Friday, Nov. 2.
"We just couldn't match them," Spencer coach Jim Tighe said. "In the fourth quarter, they were playing a little faster than we were, on offense and defense. Give them credit, they're very good and are very talented."
Heelan's quarterback Trent Solsma, who was intercepted five times in the loss to Spencer Oct. 19, bounced back with his performance Monday night. The junior completed 15-of-20 passes for 301 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran 17 times for 69 yards and two scores.
Heelan jumped out to a 13-0 lead on a 59-yard run on the first play of the game from Jack Wegher and a 15-yard touchdown pass from Trent Solsma to Connor Niles before Spencer broke off big chunks of yardage to get on the board, 13-7.
Spencer's Trey Hookfin would give the Tigers its first lead of the game when he stripped Wegher in the backfield and returned the fumble 40 yards for a 14-13 lead.
The back-and-forth game continued on the next play as Solsma connected on a deep ball with Niles for an 80-yard quick-strike score. Solsma's first rushing touchdown came next and Heelan led, 27-14.
Spencer got back in the game after Blake Altenhofen gained 46 yards and Hunter Cushman added 21 on rushes that set up Finnern from one yard out. Heelan, behind Solsma, moved back down the field quickly after the Spencer score with Philip Jacobson catching a 28-yard touchdown to make it 33-21.
The scoring wasn't over for the first half as Spencer's Cody Mowery broke down the sidelines on a pitch for a 52-yard scoring run to make it 33-28 at halftime.
Spencer took its second lead of the game after Mowery intercepted Solsma, his second of the game, on Heelan's first possession and returned it to Heelan's 11-yard-line. Austin Lauck would punch in a 1-yard score and Spencer was on top, 35-33, with 6:30 left in the third quarter.
Heelan (10-1) moved the ball down 70 yards on a five-minute drive and scored on the third scoring strike from Solsma to Niles. On the next Spencer possession, Heelan intercepted an attempted screen-pass deep in Spencer territory, which set-up a 1-yard run from Solsma and a 47-35 lead.
Spencer couldn't do much offensively for the rest of the game, and Heelan would add another passing touchdown and a 34-yard field goal for the 57-35 final.
For the Tigers, it's been a long road from 0-9 two seasons ago to making it to the second-round each of the last two seasons and capping this season with a win over Heelan, a big win over ADM in the first round and challenging Heelan again.
"There were two seniors on the team who played when we were 0-9," Tighe said. "I'm very proud of them, the whole senior group. They did a lot of hard work to get the program back to where it belongs. And we also had a great group of juniors this year."
The Tigers finish the season 7-4 and third in 3A District 2. They played six of the last seven games on the road.
Monday night, Finnern led Spencer with 88 rush yards on 20 carries and two scores. The junior was 3-of-7 for 27 yards and an interception. Altenhofen gained 79 yards on six carries while Mowery had 63 yards on four touches and a touchdown.
Cushman intercepted Solsma twice, giving him nine picks on the year. Heelan's receivers were led by Niles, who caught four passes for 139 yards and three touchdowns. Jacobson caught four balls for 75 yards and two scores.
2ND ROUND - MONDAY, OCT. 29
ANKENY 45, SIOUX CITY EAST 10
DOWLING CATHOLIC 38, WAUKEE 0
C.R. PRAIRIE 49, IOWA CITY WEST 28
PLEASANT VALLEY 41, NORTH SCOTT 12
SOUTHEAST POLK 52, MARSHALLTOWN 17
WDM VALLEY 42, JOHNSTON 17
C.R. XAVIER 45, WATERLOO EAST 0
CEDAR FALLS V C.R. KENNEDY - LATE
BISHOP HEELAN 57, SPENCER 35
GRINNELL 33, CLEAR LAKE 10
DECORAH 35, SOLON 10
SOUTH TAMA 21, HUMBOLDT 12
LEWIS CENTRAL 22, CARROLL 19
CENTRAL CLINTON 28, MARION 13
WILLIAMSBURG 54, PELLA 27
WINTERSET 27, WASHINGTON 21
BECKMAN CATHOLIC 21, NEW HAMPTON 0
BONDURANT-FARRAR 33, MID-PRAIRIE 0
KUEMPER CATHOLIC 32, NORTH POLK 7
MEDIAPOLIS 42, WEST LIBERTY 6
BOYDEN-HULL/RV 45, GARNER-HAYFIELD/VENTURA 7
SPIRIT LAKE 43, SHELDON 7
WAUKON 21, UNION 14
WEST MARSHALL 27, NEVADA 7
DIKE-NEW HARTFORD 26, SUMNER-FREDERICKSBURG 7
EMMETSBURG 28, ST. EDMOND 0
IKM-MANNING 28, SOUTH O'BRIEN 17
MAQUOKETA VALLEY 48, WILTON 20
MOUNT AYR 21, OGDEN 14
IOWA CITY REGINA 27, WEST BRANCH 9
APLINGTON-PARKERSBURG 49, SOUTH WINN 22
C.B. ST. ALBERT 42, VAN METER 7
B-G-M 23, LISBON 0
LOGAN-MAGNOLIA 41, A-H-S-T 14
LYNNVILLE-SULLY 41, MONTEZUMA 0
NORTH TAMA 35, STARMONT 12
WAPSIE VALLEY 48, GLADBROOK-REINBECK 20
AKRON-WESTFIELD 28, WEST HANCOCK 16
HINTON 14, WEST LYON 10
WOODWARD-GRANGER 24, GRISWOLD 13
DON BOSCO 48, SPRINGVILLE 42
EXIRA-EHK 56, COON RAPIDS-BAYARD 7
ADAIR-CASEY 52, H-L-V 20
M-M-C 55, LAURENS-MARATHON 25
MURRAY 64, COLO-NESCO 40
NEWELL-FONDA 47, HARRIS-LAKE PARK 7
CLARKSVILLE 46, PRESTON 30
GLIDDEN-RALSTON 42, SIDNEY 23