FAIRBANK - The Redhawks weathered the first wave, but after the second, third and fourth, the Warriors' depth took over.
Tyler Odneal rushed for 177 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries as second-ranked Wapsie Valley (12-0) used a relentless running attack to wear down No. 5 North Tama for a 46-20 Class A quarterfinal win Friday.
"Wapsie dropped down from Class 1A and has a lot more seniors and juniors. That depth was huge. When they rest somebody, they had the ability to come in with fresh bodies. That definitely helps them out," said North Tama coach Dan Oltman.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
North Tama’s Damon Spencer closes in on Wapsie Valley tailback Tyler Odneal near the sideline, while Mitchell Boerm (23) also closes in on the play. Odneal rushed for four touchdowns to lead the Warriors past the Redhawks 46-20. North Tama finished with a 10-2 record.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
North Tama senior quarterback Jacob Wrage (1) follows a block from Brent Billerbeck and Dalton Hulme (20) late in the second quarter. Wrage ran for two touchdowns and also threw another to Billerbeck in the quarterfinal contest at Fairbank Friday.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
Snapping the Redhawks (10-2) nine-game win streak, the Warriors advance to face ninth-ranked BGM (10-2) in a semifinal contest in the UNI-Dome Friday at 7 p.m.
Clinging to a 7-6 edge late in the second quarter, a pass interference call against North Tama put Wapsie Valley just outside the red zone. Five plays later, Odneal punched in a 10-yard score, his second of the night, to give the Warriors a 12-7 edge after a failed two-point conversion with a minute to play in the half.
A pair of Redhawk incompletions allowed the home team to preserve its final timeout to use after stopping Wrage on third-and-10 to reclaim possession with 31 ticks on the clock. A 34-yard strike Mitch Boevers to Kenny Saulsberry had the Warriors knocking on the door before Boevers spiked the ball with 5 seconds left. On the ensuing play Boevers hit Saulsberry on an 8-yard slant for the score to put the Warriors up 18-7 and grab all the momentum before intermission.
NT - Jacob Wrage 10 run (Tanner Swanger kick), 10:23
WV - Tyler Odneal 12 run (kick failed), 2:27
WV - Odneal 10 run (run failed), 1:00
WV - Kenny Saulsberry 8 pass from Mitch Boevers (pass failed), :05
WV - Ethan Kleitsch 6 run (Carter O'Brien kick), 6:45
NT - Brent Billerbeck 1 pass from Wrage (run failed), 3:33
WV - Stone Kane 9 run (Odneal run), 1:55
WV - Odneal 7 run (O'Brien kick), 10:45
WV - Odneal 44 run (kick failed), 8:20
NT - Wrage 1 run (Swanger kick), 4:52
"Wapsie is a very good football team and they have a lot of explosive speed. They brought it tonight. We played our hardest, but in the end, the credit goes to (Wapsie)," said Oltman.
Wapsie Valley carried it into the third with a bruising ground game on a 12-play, 75-yard drive culminating in a 6-yard burst from Ethan Kleitsch. The touchdown capped 24 unanswered points from the Warriors with 6:45 to go in the third and started to show some cracks in the armor for the Redhawks.
North Tama retaliated with a one-yard shovel pass from Wrage to Brent Billerbeck to pull within 24-13 with 3:33 left in the third, but the Redhawks wouldn't draw any closer. Doing all his damage in the second half, Stone Kane bulled his way in on a 9-yard score and finished with 112 yards on just 11 carries.
Forcing a three-and-out, the Warriors added to their advantage with a 7-yard scamper from Odneal early in the fourth. The Redhawks used some trickery on the ensuing drive as Wrage delivered a 49-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Watson off a pitch from Dalton Hulme, but the play was negated by a block in the back. Later in drive, Tyler Ebaugh jarred the ball loose hitting Wrage from behind before Chris Woods jumped on the ball for the Warriors.
Odneal broke loose for his final score of the evening, a 44-yard sprint to extend the Warriors' cushion to 46-13 with eight minutes to play. North Tama didn't throw in the towel as Wrage punched in a one-yard score before the Redhawks recovered the ensuing onside kick. The Warrior defense held strong and eventually took over on downs to close it out.
Leading the Redhawks ground attack with 119 yards on 15 carries, Wrage drew first blood for North Tama with a 10-yard rumble on the visitors' opening drive. The Redhawks were back in business again when North Tama recovered a fumble from Saulsberry on the kick return. The Redhawks failed to cash in though as Ryan Miller picked off Wrage at North Tama's 38. After trading punts, Odneal got the Warriors on the board with a 12-yard dash.
Wrage completed 15 of 30 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown, while Mitchell Boerm hauled in eight catches for 89 yards.
Reflecting on the season as a whole, Oltman couldn't fault his team's efforts.
"This senior group is amazing. They had tremendous leadership both on and off the field. I couldn't be prouder of our seniors," said Oltman.
"10-2 is nothing to blink an eye about. I just with we could have gone a little bit further for them."