MAQUOKETA – The second matchup could not have gone any different than the first between West Liberty and Maquoketa, as the visiting Comets came out with a 35-16 victory to advance to the second round of the Iowa High School Class 2A playoffs.
Junior running back Jahsiah Galvan rushed for 341 yards on 20 carries for West Liberty and scored three touchdowns, including two game-high rushes of 96 and 70 yards as the Comets avenged a 27-6 Week 3 loss to the Cardinals.
Galvan was the recipient of great spacing from the offensive line, something that coach Jason Iske noted the team hasn’t always had this season.
“It was a product of a good line all night,” Iske said. “They’ve come along way this season, and we’ve probably started about nine guys up front. They’re really starting to improve at the right time.”
Galvan was very appreciative of the space that the line gave him, and even was able to shake a few tackles of his own throughout the course of the game.
“I love them,” Galvan said. “They gave me the space that I needed and I got a couple of blocks down field that really helped out.”
West Liberty started the game with two touchdowns to go up 13-0, and almost tacked on an additional score at the end of the first half that would have been another touchdown for Galvan. Instead, the ball was fumbled at the goal line out the back for a Maquoketa touchback. Maquoketa marched down the field and made it 13-7 with a Connor Becker 11 yard reception touchdown from Kannon Coakley, instead of a potential 20-0 lead for the Comets.
Iske had a feeling that his team would have a better outcome than the previous matchup. The Comets didn’t have any tape on Maquoketa, which started the season late after sitting out two weeks because of COVID-19 issues in the school. West Liberty had two weeks off before the start of the playoffs, as it had a COVID case as well.
“We really focused on getting the team healed up and to come out hungry,” Iske said. “They had two weeks to prepare for us the first time out, and we actually had film on them this time, so it was a different situation.
“There’s an old adage that it’s hard to beat a team twice in a season, because you’re not sure if you should go with the same game plan or not. We had things that we wished we had done differently and had a great plan tonight.”
West Liberty (4-2) will play Mt. Vernon next Friday as Maquoketa bows out at 2-4.
Maquoketa coach Kevin Bowman said he didn’t get the chance to talk to his team after the game, but hopes that their spirits are kept high and "they keep their heads up."
“The defense didn’t play well and gave up big plays," said Bowman. "It was disheartening to see some of those missed tackles.”
The game plan had to change for Maquoketa, which carried an early lead through the first half of the first game and ended up fighting from behind in this game.
“We only had to throw five times in the first game, and we had to go to the air a lot more this time out,” Bowman said. “In weeks past we’ve had to throw when we were down, and that was the case tonight.”
Starting quarterback Kannon Coakley threw for 167 yards on 14-of-32 passing with two touchdowns, and the Comets hauled in one interception.
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