Historic Titan season continues at Cyclones’ expense
COUNCIL BLUFFS (Nov. 2) -- Whether Lewis Central bags its first state football title in the next two weeks remains to be seen, but the Titans have certainly proven themselves as western Iowa’s top dog in 2018.
Despite playing a much more clean and efficient game than the first time around, Harlan Community was once again unable to hang with the 2nd-ranked Titans in Friday’s Class 3A quarterfinal rematch, falling behind 28-0 at halftime and losing 35-14 to finish the year at 8-3 overall.
Led by quarterback Max Duggan’s 212 rushing yards and four touchdowns - capped by a 69-yard burst of speed down the left sideline with 8:23 remaining - Lewis Central improved to 11-0 and will now face No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier (11-0) in a 3A semifinal Thursday night at the UNI-Dome.
The trip to Cedar Falls marks a historic program first for the Titans, who also became just the second team ever to defeat HCHS in both the regular season and the playoffs, joining Sioux City Heelan in 2008. LC also beat Harlan 49-14 in Week 7.
Since 1981, the Cyclones have avenged seven regular-season losses in the playoffs - part of a history that includes 12 state titles and eight runner-up trophies - and that tradition was not lost on Lewis Central head coach Jim Duggan. Friday’s 21-point win was the Titans’ closest margin of victory this fall.
“We’ve tried to keep the kids focused and everybody was genuinely concerned about this game, having to play Coach [Curt] Bladt and the most successful program in the state of Iowa and all the tradition that they have,” Duggan said. “It was a lot of anxiety going into this game, but it was a great game and both teams played hard.”
The Cyclones, who hurt their cause with self-induced fumbles and by allowing several big plays in this year’s first game at LC, turned the ball over just once Friday and allowed only one play over 25 yards until Duggan broke loose in the fourth quarter.
Coach Bladt was not disappointed by his team’s effort.
“I think they had to earn it,” he said of LC. “Our kids played well and they played hard. You can’t fault them for getting beat physically when they’re more physical than you are and more talented than you are, but by God they hung in there and kept battling. It was a lot better than the first time around.”
The Titans finished with 341 rushing yards on 45 carries - Duggan 212, Brady Miller 110 - and Duggan completed 9-of-13 passes for 86 yards. LC outgained HCHS 427-285 overall.
HCHS will graduate 21 players off the 2018 squad, including 17 who started at least one game this fall. Many of those seniors also played a key role on last year’s 10-2 team that made it to the dome.
Lewis Central 35, Harlan Community 14
CB LC: Max Duggan 2-yd. run (Drake Nettles kick) - 1st qt., 8:43.
CB LC: Duggan 12-yd. run (Nettles kick) - 2nd qt., 11:54.
CB LC: Brady Miller 4-yd. run (Nettles kick) - 2nd qt., 3:37.
CB LC: Duggan 2-yd. run (Nettles kick) - 2nd qt., :31.2.
HCHS: Brett Sears 16-yd. pass from Preston Mulligan (Kyle Knudson kick) - 3rd qt., 8:46.
HCHS: Sears 3-yd. pass from Johnathan Monson (Knudson kick) - 4th qt., 8:40.
CB LC: Duggan 69-yd. run (Nettles kick) - 4th qt., 8:23.
HCHS Individual Stat Leaders
Rushing -- Alex Schechinger 4-18, Brett Sears 4-14. Passing -- Preston Mulligan 22-35-1, 246. Receiving -- Johnathan Monson 11-107, Sears 7-72, Eli Boldan 3-44. Kickoff returns -- Sears 2-69.
Tackles -- Brenden Bartley 14 (5s/9a), Jake McLaughlin 9 (4s/5a), Wyatt Schaben 7 (5s/2a), Joey Arkfeld 7 (2s/5a), Jon Owens 6 (4s/2a). Tackles for loss -- Bartley 1 solo, J. McLaughlin 1 solo.
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