Friday night at the Little Rose Bowl in West Branch, the host Bears and the visiting Maquoketa Valley Wildcats kept fans of both teams of the edge of their seats. Scoring a combined 86 points, both Class 1A District 3 teams found the endzone quite frequently, but West Branch found it more as they came away with the district win and the 54-32 victory.
West Branch had the opportunity to get on the board early but on a failed 4th down attempt deep in Maquoketa Valley territory, the Bears' promising-looking drive stalled. The Bears' defense made sure that didn't come back to haunt the team as they forced a Wildcat punt. After the punt return, quarterback Brandon Rummelhart found junior receiver Ben Thompson for a 35 yard gain down to the 3 yard line. From there, Luke Lenoch powered his way in for his and the Bears' first score of the evening.
Maquoketa Valley responded very quickly by taking their next offensive play 70+ yards over top of the West Branch pass coverage to knot the game up at 7. That score didn't phase the Bear offense as they marched their way right back down into Maquoketa Valley territory. Set up by a 25 yard Lenoch run, Rummelhart looked Thompson's way once again and lobbed one up for him in the back corner of the north endzone. Result of the play? Touchdown, thanks to a fantastic throw, some soft hands, great concentration, and nifty footwork.13-7 Bears at the end of the first quarter.
On another promising-looking drive from the Wildcats, Jacob Graves comes up big for the Bear defensive as he picked off a pass from Wildcat QB Tucker to give the West Branch offense the ball at their own 15. The Bears then put together a long, methodical drive that was capped off by a shifty 11 yard touchdown run from Luke Lenoch, his second of the night.
After both teams traded a couple punts, the Bears got the ball back with just over 30 seconds left in the first half... and they looked to score. Brandon Rummelhart and Cooper Kabela teamed up to lead the Bears down the field, playing a nice game of pitch and catch on several 10+ yard out routes. With less than 5 seconds left in the half, Brandon Rummelhart throws up yet another beautiful lob pass to the corner of the endzone where Kabela uses his athletic ability and big hands to come down with the catch. Mark this as the second week in a row that a Rummelhart-Kabela connection comes through in the clutch. 28-7 West Branch at the half.
Despite the 21 point deficit and not-so-perfect end to the first half, Maquoketa Valley looked unphased as they came out for their first second half drive. The Wildcats took over half of the 3rd quarter and marched their way down the field. After a check down pass that went for a big 25 yard gain, quarterback Tucker powered his way into the endzone to cut the Bears' lead down to two scores.
However, the Bears responded with a long, 5+ minute drive of their own, filled with a couple nice, brusing runs from fullback Cale Donovan. To extend the lead back out to three scores for the Bears, Luke Lenoch darted his way into the north endzone from 2 yards out for the score, his third of the night.
However, the Wildcats weren't ready to pack it in. With the 3rd quarter nearing a close, they burst out to a 63 yard run that resulted in another long touchdown. 34-20 Bears heading into the final quarter.
To kickoff the scoring in the 4th quarter, Luke Lenoch uses his speed and cutting ability to get into the endzone for his 4th touchdown of the evening. That touchdown run put him at 67 in his career, setting a new West Branch High School record.
Shall we call them the "Big Play Wildcats?" On Maquoketa Valley's next drive, they once again take advantage of the open field by taking into the endzone a 54 yard crossing route over the middle of the field. 41-26 Bears with 9:27 left. After forcing a Bear punt, the Wildcats get back into the endzone to pull the game within 9 points at 41-32.
The Bears however, weren't exactly comfortable with that lead. A minute and 20 seconds later, ___ (guess who) darts 17 yards for his fifth touchdown of the evening, tying a school record for most in a game. 47-32 Bears with 3:40 left.
The Wildcats got their critical next drive off to a great start but key player of the night Ben Thompson picked off a Tucker pass to all but seal the deal for the Bears. However, this offense just did not want to stop, and neither did Cale Donovan. Set up by a punishing, determined 27 yard run from Donovan, Luke Lenoch takes a pitch from Rummelhart a couple yards into the south endzone for his sixth score of the night, setting another school record.
Your final: 54-32 West Branch over Maquoketa Valley.
After the game, the BearCast crew caught up with Luke Lenoch, Friday night's Red Buffalo Tree Service player of the game.
On the night, the West Branch offense racked up a whopping 531 total yards, with 367 of that coming on the ground.
QB Brandon Rummelhart: 14/21 for 164 yards, 2 TD
RB Luke Lenoch: 40 carries for 285 yards, 6 TD
FB Cale Donovan: 11 carries for 92 yards
WR Cooper Kabela: 6 receptions for 87 yards, 1 TD
WR Ben Thompson: 5 receptions for 74 yards
Check out the full game stats by clicking here. Also check out the side of this page (or below on a mobile device) for photos, the BearCast replay, and much more from this game.