STATE CENTER - It wasn't the lopsided lambasting it handed Nevada the first time around, but it certainly was enough to advance.
The third-ranked West Marshall football team benefitted from four Nevada turnovers and used a pair of big plays to push the Cubs from the postseason, winning 27-7 in Monday's Class 2A second-round game.
Trojan junior tailback Duncan Ferch passed Brian Preston for the third-best single-season rushing total in school history, rambling 29 times for 269 yards and two touchdowns in the second meeting with District 7 foe Nevada (6-5).
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
West Marshall’s Elijah Streeter, center, takes off on a 33-yard run as Nevada’s Gabe Dubberke (53) gives chase during the third quarter of Monday’s Class 2A second-round state football playoff game in State Center.
In their Week 4 pairing, Ferch got loose for 363 yards and six touchdowns in a 53-7 rout of the Cubs, but Nevada made multiple changes to counteract the third-highest single-game rushing performance in the state this season.
But it was only enough to slow Ferch and the now 11-0 Trojans, not stop them altogether.
"They brought more guys in the box and always playing a team a second time is tougher than the first time," said Ferch, whose single-season rushing total inched within 3 yards of his brother Dalton Ferch's 2011 mark.
Monday's Second Round
Dyersville Beckman 21, New Hampton 0
Bondurant-Farrar 33, Mid-Prairie 0
Boyden-Hull 45, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura 7
Kuemper Catholic 32, North Polk 7
Mediapolis 42, West Liberty 6
Spirit Lake 43, Sheldon 7
Waukon 21, Union, La Porte City 14
West Marshall 27, Nevada 7
Spirit Lake (10-1) at Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley (11-0), at Hull
Kuemper Catholic, Carroll (11-0) at West Marshall (11-0)
Waukon (9-2) at Dyersville Beckman (10-1)
Bondurant-Farrar (10-1) at Mediapolis (11-0)
But what Duncan really wants is another trip to the UNI-Dome - and then some.
"I just really want to get back there," he said. "My freshman year we were one game away and didn't make it, and last year it was nice but we want to get there and win, too."
The Trojans will need to beat No.4-ranked Kuemper Catholic of Carroll in Friday's state quarterfinal game, which will be at 7 p.m. in State Center. The Knights (11-0) knocked off North Polk, 32-7, in their second-round pairing.
"I think the guys had the goal at the beginning of the year (getting back to the UNI-Dome) is what they wanted to do," said West Marshall head coach Ken Winkler. "I think some people probably thought we could do it and others thought we couldn't, especially losing the amount of kids we lost.
"Overall this year they've stayed focused and been ready to play most every night, so now they've got their opportunity."
They earned it by forcing four Nevada turnovers, the first of which resulted in Dale Hilleman's 5-yard fumble return for a touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Traye Pelzer put the ball on the ground too, and Elijah Streeter's recovery set up a short field for the Trojan offense.
Ferch carried for 14 and 18 yards, the second of which crossed the goal line and gave West Marshall a 14-0 lead after two touchdowns in a matter of 25 seconds.
"That's the difference in the ballgame, probably," said Winkler, "we got two turnovers really early and turned them into points."
The Cubs marched to midfield on their next possession before punting the ball back to West Marshall, and five plays into their drive it was Ferch breaking free for a 47-yard TD scamper.
Devin Chesler tacked on a 23-yard touchdown dash up the middle during the third quarter, giving the Trojans a 27-0 lead that was never threatened.
"I thought our defense played really well, probably as well as they played all year," said Winkler, "but overall offensively this year we've finished drives but tonight we didn't finish them quite as well.
"I think we've been pretty consistent, we're just not as explosive as we were a year ago. We left some points on the field tonight which we probably won't be able to do Friday night if we want to win."
West Marshall committed its first turnover since Week 5, a stretch of four games without until a Jake Pszanka pass intended for Jared Riemenschneider was picked off by Nevada's Chad Jamison on the Trojans' opening drive of the second half.
The Cubs didn't reach paydirt until 1 minute remained on the clock, as quarterback Colynn Black scrambled in from 11 yards out.
West Marshall's defense surrendered 265 yards on the night, though 74 of those came on the Cubs' final scoring drive. The Trojans also forced four turnovers, with Hilleman recovering a pair of fumbles and Streeter adding an interception in the third.
Bailey Brockman led the West Marshall defensive front with 11 tackles, Marcus Webber added seven and Riemenschneider had six.
The Trojans totaled 373 rushing yards and added 26 passing yards as Pszanka finished 3-for-4 with one interception. Chesler had 60 yards on 10 carries while Streeter had 45 yards on five runs to boost Class 2A's top rushing attack.
Ferch, who now sits at 2,216 yards after passing Brian Preston's junior year total of 2,008 yards, can surpass Preston's school-record senior season total of 2,257 with 42 yards against Kuemper on Friday night. The Knights' defense, however, ranks atop the state in allowing just 6.1 points per game.
"They've got nice athletes, everybody that we've talked to says their skill kids have good speed and they've got tall kids, nice looking athletes," Winkler said, "and they've blown everybody out all year long. They're a good team."