The Bulldogs were once again on the look to get another state championship but fell short.
The Bulldogs returned to the UNI Dome on Nov. 9. Beating the Iowa City Trojans the week before, the Bulldogs were playing Dowling Catholic, a five-time repeating state champion.
Fans of the team traveled well to see the team take on the challenge, as the student section was arguably the largest of the season.
The Bulldogs started the game in the manner that they had planned, and Carter Bell, the mobile quarterback, was a key factor in giving the Bulldogs an early lead.
Early in the first quarter, Darien Porter, the Iowa State football commit, gave the Bulldogs the momentum that they needed, gaining 23-yards on an end-around. The next play, Bell rushed for a two-yard touchdown and the Bulldogs led 7-0 in the first quarter.
Later in the second quarter, Keegan Schmidt made a 43-yard field goal that gave the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead. Towards the end of the half, Bell found Brandon Tilman in the end zone, and made the game 17-0 at half.
Going into the second half, the Bulldogs seemed to have the game in the bag. But the tide began to change after Dowling running back, Jayson Murray, started the half with a kick return all the way to the Bulldogs six-yard line. The next play, Murray was able to get into the end zone making the game 17-7.
In the fourth quarter, Bell threw an interception on the Bulldog’s half, giving Dowling great field position at the Bulldogs five-yard line. Three play’s later, Dowling’s quarterback, Zach Watters, scored on a one-yard rush into the end zone, only giving the Bulldogs a 17-14 lead. In the final minutes of the game, Dowling’s kicker, Drew Peterson, made a 32-yard field goal sending the game into overtime at 17-17.
The two teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime making the game 20-20. During the second overtime, Watters made a pass into the end zone to Collin Cook for a six-yard touchdown, giving Dowling the lead 27-20. The Bulldogs tied the game with Bell making a run into the end zone, tying the game at 27-27.
In the third overtime, Bettendorf and Dowling traded touchdowns. The Bulldogs scored on a Bell hand off to Austin Kalar, which Kalar then threw the ball to Bell in the end zone. Dowling came out strong and scored on the very next play, making the game tied again at 34-34.
Dowling took the lead in the fourth overtime after Watters found Jack Lyman in the back of the end zone making the game 41-34. With their last breath, the Bulldogs ran a read option on the one-yard line on fourth down, but Dowling’s defense was able to stop Bell from getting into the end zone.
Dowling won the game 41-37 in what may have been the greatest high school football game the state has ever seen. Bell ended the game with 138 passing yards, 107 rushing yards, 10 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Tilman had five receptions for 97 yards. The Bulldogs ended the game with 355 total yards of offense.
The Bulldogs will not allow this major loss to define their program, as next year the team will once again go on the hunt for another state title.