A second straight stiff test for Iowa City High was met with diminishing returns Friday night.
A week after losing a hard-fought battle with second-ranked Cedar Falls, a gritty defensive effort couldn’t quite overcome a the miscues and a stagnant rushing attack. A highly competitive game for two-and-a-half quarters turned ugly as City High fell to third-ranked Bettendorf 44-7 at Bates Field.
The Little Hawks fumbled six times, albeit losing just one, threw three interceptions and had a punt blocked.
Starting quarterback Nate Wieland sat out with an injured shoulder. Back-up Jared Taylor performed admirably in relief last week, putting up 245 yards and three touchdowns through the air. He found the going a bit tougher against the Bulldogs.
Harassed by consistent pressure, Taylor managed enough big strikes to wideout Jason Jones to keep things interesting. But the Little Hawks failed to find enough rhythm to keep Bettendorf at bay.
City began at their own 6 after muffing the opening kickoff. Pinned at their own 19 on fourth down, the Little Hawks elected for a fake punt, which pin-balled around the secondary before falling incomplete.
“I take full responsibility for that,” City coach Dan Sabers said. “I thought we had something that wasn’t quite there. (Betterndorf) made a good play.”
The Little Hawk defense held tight, keeping Bettendorf to seven yards on six rush attempts as the Bulldogs settled for a 25-yard Matt Perk field goal.
The Little Hawks’ second possession resulted in a Matt Wolfe interception and set Bettendorf up in City High territory once again.
This time the Bulldogs moved swiftly. Quarterback Owen Ridenour hit Keaton Cain for 15 yards and Dax Emerson picked up eight. Ridenour slithered his way into the endzone from 10 yards out on a keeper to put Bettendorf up 10-0 with 4:46 left in the first quarter.
A rolled shotgun snap resulted in a 12-yard loss, derailing City High’s third opportunity, but the Little Hawks showed signs of life in the second quarter.
On third-and-nine from their own 21, Taylor hit Jones on a quick hitch. Jones juked a defender and raced down the sidelines for a 61-yard gain. Taylor picked up a first down on a fourth-and-inches sneak. On third-and-goal from the 10, Taylor drifted a fade toward the back of the end zone as his favorite target, Jones, gained separation and hauled it in for the score.
The ensuing possession, Dillon Africa dropped Ridenour for a nine-yard sack. Just as it looked like City was seizing the momentum, Ridenour hit the Little Hawks with the back-breaker. On third-and-23, Ridenour took off out of the shotgun, looking to pick up a few yards. After breaking a few tackles, Ridenour found himself all alone on his way to a 71-yard touchdown.
The Little Hawks’ first possession of the second half ended with Taylor being picked off by Wolfe again. City High got it right back, as back-up quarterback Jacob Wehr coughed the ball up following a 12-yard run.
A pass interference penalty and a 30-yard shovel pass to James Martinez-Burney gave the Little Hawks an opportunity to get right back in the game. But on first-and-goal at the Bettendorf 2, a mishandled snap led to a 3-yard loss. Then came the final blow.
Looking toward the endzone, Taylor didn’t recognize defensive back Jack Wells, who jumped the route. Wells intercepted the pass and sprinted 99 yards for a 24-7 lead with 3:17 remaining in the third.
Next week, the Little Hawks travel to Ames to face the Little Cyclones.