EPWORTH, Iowa — North Scott came to town seeking revenge.
What the Lancers got was decisive and dominant.
It was another Bobcat beatdown.
Calvin Harris threw for a touchdown and ran for two more, Ben Bryant ran for 115 yards and a touchdown, and the Class 3A No. 1-ranked and second-seeded Bobcats limited No. 5-ranked and ninth-seeded North Scott to just 212 yards of offense in a 29-7 victory in their 3A state quarterfinal on Friday night at Buchman Field.
“We just had a to avoid complacency,” said WD linebacker Jake Hosch, who returned from a three-game injury absence to help a Bobcats defense that surrendered just seven first downs to a high-powered North Scott offense. “We knew this was going to be a battle. We couldn’t let the fact that we beat them last time get in our heads. We knew that we had to grind all week. We just had to prove that our process is better than theirs.”
Western Dubuque (11-0) advanced to Thursday’s state semifinal against No. 3-seeded Council Bluffs Lewis Central (10-1) at either 5 or 8:30 p.m.
Top-seeded Solon (11-0) will face fourth-seeded Sergeant Bluff Luton (10-1) in the other semifinal. Western Dubuque beat Solon in the first round of last year’s playoffs and defeated Sergeant Bluff-Luton in the state semifinals.
“They’re a tough team, no doubt about that,” WD defensive end Dusty Wille said. “We’re just going to grind it out this week, have good practices, compete during the week and build an edge.”
Western Dubuque backed up a 21-3 Week 4 victory over the Lancers while earning their third straight victory over its non-district rival. The Bobcats beat North Scott, 45-21, in last year’s state quarterfinal game in Eldridge after losing the regular-season contest, 7-6.
Western Dubuque’s seniors completed a perfect run on their home field as the Bobcats won their 12th consecutive home game — a streak that dates to 2017.
“It’s really special to us. It’s something I’ll never forget,” Bryant said.
Harris connected with Tom DeSollar on third down for a gain of 30 yards on the opening series, capping the 10-play, 91-yard drive with a 27-yard strike to DeSollar on third down. Western Dubuque converted 5 of 6 third-down opportunities in the first half.
“We were able to execute on third down and I think it was just mindset,” said Harris, who completed 9 of 16 passes for 148 yards and also ran 16 times for 46 yards. “The mindset to finish, regardless.”
North Scott benefited from a personal foul penalty on the ensuing kickoff and needed just nine plays to move 45 yards, drawing even on Jake Matthaidess’ 12-yard touchdown run.
But that was as close as the Lancers ever got to the lead.
“How about our defense? I was just blown away,” WD coach Justin Penner said. “Looking at last year’s score being 45-21, I wondered are we in for a track meet early on? Coach (Ryan) Hoerner, Coach (Cory) Davidson, Coach (Brett) Kilburg made adjustments and they didn’t score again. And that’s unbelievable, because that’s a great football team.”
The Bobcats turned the ball over on downs at the North Scott 12 on its second possession, but forced a quick three-and-out and needed just four plays to take a 14-7 lead on Harris’ 3-yard touchdown run. Bryant ran for 26 yards on third down to set up the touchdown two plays later.
“I can’t take any of that credit,” Bryant said. “The guys up front, they do it all for all of us. They have this attitude that every play they’re going to give 100 percent.”
WD forced another short punt and moved 45 yards in 10 plays, taking a 20-7 lead into halftime on Bryant’s 2-yard touchdown run.
The Bobcats outgained the Lancers, 238-112, in the first half and finished with 323 yards of offense.
North Scott didn’t manage much more after halftime. Matthaidess finished 12 of 21 passing for 118 yards and ran 13 times for 59 yards.
“We know we have a talented defense and we were just sick of hearing how good their defense was. So we had to show them how good our defense was,” Hosch said.
Western Dubuque forced a quick three-and-out to open the second half, then burned nearly 5 minutes of clock before settling for Gabe Ulrichs’ 28-yard field goal.
The Bobcats didn’t punt until the fourth quarter, and used a time-consuming drive — aided by a 20-yard Bryant run on fourth-and-3 with just more than 3 minutes left — and Harris ran for a game-sealing 8-yard touchdown with 64 seconds left.