Prep soccer: Cougars bow out with loss to Denver – telegraphherald.com
CASCADE, Iowa — Cascade’s high-octane offense met its equal Friday.
But it was more of a defensive battle than anyone could have imagined.
Denver matched Cascade blow-for-blow offensively, but both defenses took center stage as Denver snuck past the Cougars, 21-19, in an Iowa Class 1A second-round football playoff at James O’Meara Field.
Jack Menster ran for 180 yards for the Cougars, capping off an amazing season, both for the sophomore running back and Cascade, which closed out the year at 6-3. Denver moves on with a 6-3 record.
Denver struck first behind their dual-threat quarterback Isaac Besh. Besh ran for 37 yards on Denver’s opening drive, including a 17-yard, no-nonsense keeper into the heart of Cascade’s defense for the game’s first score with 8:30 on the first-quarter clock.
Cascade’s first three possessions stalled and ended with punts that gave Denver the ball near midfield each time.
The Cyclones seemed poised to take advantage of the short fields, but Cascade’s Carson Staner knocked down a pair of Besh passes to get the Cougars’ defense off the field when desperately needed.
Cascade then leaned on its offensive star, Menster.
Menster accounted for all 54 yards on a 7-play game-tying scoring drive midway through the second quarter. He outraced the Denver secondary to the pylon for a 25-yard TD run.
“We’ ve started off slow all year and we’ve always been able to come back from it,” Menster said. “I thought we would again tonight.”
Late in the first half, the Cougars defense stepped up again. After a 56-yard punt return by Denver’s Caylor Hoffler put the Cyclones in striking distance, Cascade’s Luke Ruggeberg recovered an Ethan Schoville fumble and Cascade’s offense went back to work.
Justin Roling lofted a pass for Jackson McAleer. McAleer took a hard hit and couldn’t hang on for the catch. He was eventually carted off the field by medical staff.
On the next play Menster blasted off for a 66-yard touchdown run with just 32 seconds left before halftime to put the Cougars up, 13-7.
Denver got a 66-yard score of its own to retake the lead midway through the third. Besh tossed a short pass to Tye Bradle, who squirted past the first wave of defenders and outran the rest to give Denver a 14-13 lead.
The Cyclones added to their lead with 10:52 left in the final quarter, Schoville capped the drive with a 24-yard touchdown run bouncing off Cougars along the way and the Cyclones had a 21-13 advantage.
Ruggeberg turned from defensive to offensive hero on Cascade’s next play. Ruggeberg took a pass straight down the middle of the field and rambled 80 yards for a score. But Cascade’s attempt at a 2-point conversion pass to tie the score was ruled out-of-bounds, and Denver stayed on top.