It wasn’t the most eloquent of performances for South Central Calhoun Saturday in the State Semifianls. The Titans struggled most of the day offensively and had the ball just 3:43 in the 1st quarter and 2:41 in the 4th. Despite the time of possession advantage for Van Meter and three turnovers that led to 14 Bulldog points, South Central Calhoun wouldn’t go quietly as they fell 20-12. If you looked just at the stat sheet, you would probably think they were beaten handily. However, as former college coach Steve Spurrier used to say “the only stat that matters is the scoreboard”. Van Meter came out and established the run early and possessed the ball for over 8 minutes of the first 12. They drove the field and while the SCC defense bent some it never broke. They bowed up when needed and got stops both teams early. Van Meter got on the board late in the 1st quarter when RB Dalten Van Pelt broke a 16 yard TD run to cap off a 73 yard drive that ate up over 3 minutes of clock. The Titans stopped the 2 pt. try and trailed 6-0 after the 1st. In the 2nd both defenses would stand tall and the two teams traded possessions. SCC would get a few first downs with a late 2nd quarter drive using Blake Mcalister in the wildcat formation but that drive stalled. Van Meter would put together another methodical drive and get inside the SCC 10. The Titans got a key play as Brennan Holder came free and knocked the ball loose and Kevin King scooped it up and returned it nearly 30 yards. While the Titans were unable to put together a scoring drive to end the half, that defensive play kept them within one score, as they trailed 6-0 at half.
The Titans would get the ball to open the 2nd half and would go “smash mouth” with their play calling. They marched down the field mixing the formations but keeping the ball primarily on the ground. The Titans tied it with a 1 yard Brennan Holder TD run that capped off a 13 play, 55 yard drive that chewed up nearly 6 minutes. The Titan defense would hold the rest of the 3rd and after 3 it was knotted at 6. Early in the 4th, Van Meter flipped the field position and SCC turned it over. That gave the Bulldogs a short field taking over at the Titan 38. Van Meter would convert on a 4th down pass to Dalten Van Pelt down to the 1. QB Jack Petit would punch it in on the next play, Van Meter got the extra point and led 13-6 with 9:39 left. The Titan offense would turn it over again when Van Meter picked off a deflected pass at the SCC 24. Van Meter scored on a TD pass from Petit to Gannon Archer and got the pint after to lead 20-6. Van Meter scored 14 points off 3 SCC turnovers in the 2nd half. Credit to South Central Calhoun they continued to believe and fight. The next possession, Blake Mcalister got a good return on the kickoff to set them up in good field position. They would run a trick play referred to commonly as the “swinging gate” where they overloaded one side and went to Mcalister on the other side he would take it deep into Van Meter territory at the 14. The next play QB Cole Corey would score on a 14 yard TD scamper to cut the lead to 20-12. The Titans got the 2 Pt. conversion initially but that was waived off on an “illegal shift” flag that came in well after the play was over. The Titans couldn’t get the two on the replay of the 2 pt. try. Titans tried an onside kick but Van Meter recovered it and would salt the clock away as they converted on a 4th and 1 at the Titan 45.
Every statistical category on offense belonged to Van Meter, 20-11 in 1st downs, 328-177 in total yards, turnover margin was +1 for Van Meter and they scored 14 points off turnovers to 0 for South Central Calhoun. But statistical categories can’t measure intangibles, their is no stat for heart, guts, and perseverance. Those 3 things were displayed by the SCC players and coaches, the “never say die” attitude was manifested by SCC Saturday. The Titan defense played with tremendous grit as at times they bent they never broke and only allowed one long scoring drive, the other two scoring drives were on a short field. While certainly the loss is painful for the coaches and players especially the Seniors, the season in itself was one that encapsulated Saturday’s gutsy effort. It is every player and coaches dream to end the season at the UNI Dome and while SCC would’ve wanted to have an encore to the dome their are over 50 teams in Class 1A that would trade places with them. A disappointing way to end, but a season that was from a disappointment.
This season for the Titans was a story, one that back in August nobody knew really how the book would end. Their was the uncertainty of a global pandemic that was a black cloud hanging over Iowa High School Football. As Titans voice Mark Williamson said at the end of Saturday’s broadcast ” Just getting to play the season itself was a blessing.” With all the uncertainty, hardships and chaos surrounding this year it was Titan Football that provided a much needed positive distraction for so many. The young men in that program showed again Saturday what they had all year long, perseverance, heart and restlessness.