CEDAR FALLS — Prior to Friday night, Iowa City West’s most recent trip to the UNI-Dome was a loss in the 2016 Class 4A state championship game.
The Trojans’ Week 3 return to Cedar Falls had that same late November feel.
Iowa City West answered Luke Gillett’s touchdown pass to Blake Christensen on the first play of overtime with a five-yard touchdown run by quarterback Evan Flitz. The senior signal caller then rolled out and hit Traevis Buchanan for the two-point conversion in the corner of the end zone as the No. 3 Trojans prevailed over No. 8 Cedar Falls in an overtime thriller, 32-31.
“Cedar Falls, they are a good team,” Iowa City West coach Garrett Hartwig said. “They are going to be there in the end. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them playing in the Dome in November.”
Despite taking a non-district loss, Cedar Falls (2-1) certainly showed its ability to compete with any team in this half of the state.
“In big games like this, you’ve got to make plays,” Cedar Falls coach Brad Remmert said. “We made a bunch of plays, we just came up one play short.”
That final play Iowa City West (3-0) executed had no margin for error. Flitz was flushed out to his right and Buchanan tight-roped his feet to the purple portion of the end zone with an official making the close call to signify the completion.
For West’s Hartwig, there was no question about going for two instead of a tying PAT kick.
“You play to win,” Hartwig responded. “Nothing more needs to be said.”
Momentum shifted early in the third quarter as Flitz led the Trojans to touchdowns on three of his team’s first four drives — the lone missed opportunity came when he fumbled the ball in the red zone and Cedar Falls linebacker Jack Campbell recovered.
Iowa City West overcame a 17-point halftime deficit with those 21 unanswered points, and after Cedar Falls regained the lead, tied the score on Lucas Karwal’s 35-yard field goal with 1:16 left in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers once again fought back.
Gillett found Logan Wolf for key first down conversions on the final drive of regulation. Cedar Falls moved the ball to the Iowa City West 29 and lined up for a potential 45-yard game-winning field goal from Matthew Cook with four seconds remaining, but the hold didn’t get down quick and the kick came up short.
“He has the range,” Remmert said. “We didn’t execute perfectly on it and that happens. No fault to our kicker. He’s done a great job all year.”
Cedar Falls’ Gillett completed 22 of 34 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns — including a 29-yard beauty into double-coverage that Wolf hauled in for a score five seconds prior to halftime and a 20-yard go-ahead completion to Christensen with 6:43 left in the fourth quarter.
“It showed a lot of character,” Remmert said, praising his team’s ability to regain the lead after Iowa City West flipped momentum. “We got behind, first time we’ve been behind all year, and were able to march it down and get points.”
Christensen caught seven passes for 151 yards and two scores to lead the receiving corps, while Dalton Closson hauled in five receptions for 82 yards as blockers provided Gillett plenty of time to throw.
Iowa City West’s Flitz was 17 of 25 passing for 208 yards and two scores. He also rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries for a Trojans team that was held to 85 yards of offense in the opening half.
“They’re a highly ranked team, they were in the finals last year and they’ve got a lot of kids back from that team,” Remmert said. “To stand in there toe-to-toe, and we really had an opportunity to win the football game but we didn’t make enough plays.
“We’ve got great kids, they’ve got a great attitude. It hurts, but we’ll go back, we’ll regroup and watch the film, and we’ve got to get better next week.”
I.C. West 32, Cedar Falls 31, OT
I.C. West 0 0 14 10 8 — 32
Cedar Falls 0 17 0 7 7 — 31
CF — Sam Gary 6 run (Matthew Cook kick)
CF — FG Cook 27
CF — Logan Wolf 29 pass from Luke Gillett (Cook kick)
ICW — Owen McAreavy 2 run (Lucas Karwal kick)
ICW — Jalen Gaudet 2 pass from Evan Flitz (Lucas Karwal kick)
ICW — Traevis Buchanan 10 pass from Flitz (Karwal kick)
CF — Blake Christensen 20 pass from Gillett (Cook kick)
ICW — FG Karwal 35
CF — Christensen 10 pass from Gillett (Cook kick)
ICW — Flitz 5 run (Buchanan from Flitz)
First downs 20 20
Rushes-yards 43-166 31-103
Comp-att-int 17-25-0 23-35-0
Passing yards 208 360
Punts-avg 4-31.5 4-31.25
Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-0
Penalties-yards 4-20 3-17
IOWA CITY WEST — Andre White 15-73, Evan Flitz 20-73, Trumell Roberts 2-3, Owen McAreavy 2-5, Dylan Miene 2-4, Landon Green 1-9.
CEDAR FALLS — Sam Gary 16-46, Luke Gillett 14-60.
IOWA CITY WEST — Flitz 17-25-0, 208 yards.
CEDAR FALLS — Gillett 22-34-0, 295 yards, Logan Wolf 1-1-0, 65 yards.
IOWA CITY WEST — Jalen Gaudet 7-80, Traevis Buchanan 5-72, Parris Taylor 2-14, Dillon Doyle 2-30, Austin Geasland 1-12.
CEDAR FALLS — Blake Christensen 7-151, Dalton Closson 5-82, Jakob Courbat 4-35, Wolf 4-52, Sam Gary 1-35, Jackson Frericks 1-4, Reese Gardner 1-1.