DYERSVILLE, Iowa — Déjá vu.
Like the Week 5 meeting over a month ago, the Durant High School football team held a fourth quarter lead against Dyersville Beckman.
Like the Week 5 contest, that lead vanished in the blink of an eye.
On 4th-and-6 with 1 minute, 57 seconds left in a Class 1A second round game Friday night, Beckman quarterback Nick Offerman took a two-step drop and fired a bullet to Trent Koelker for a 23-yard touchdown to complete the comeback as it triumphed 19-14 over the Wildcats at Beckman Catholic High School.
It was Offerman’s one and only touchdown through the air in the game. He started the scoring with a 5-yard keeper that ended a seven-play drive to give the Trailblazers (6-2) an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
The senior finished with 152 yards of total offense to lead Beckman into next week’s Round of 16.
“Beautiful pass, (Koelker) made a heckuva catch,” Durant coach Joe Diederichs said. “That’s our best cornerback and he shut him down all night.”
In all eight of the Wildcats (4-4) games, they led in the fourth quarter. Their four losses were by a combined total of 20 points against teams with a combined record of 17-8.
“It was a great season,” sophomore tailback Nolan DeLong said. “We played good, those games came down to little mistakes and those are easy to fix.”
Trailing by three, Durant started a drive after the Beckman go-ahead score at its own 20. A high snap forced Keagen Head to fall on it at its own 1-yard line.
On the next play, Head was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
On the ensuing possession, Offerman picked up the last of 12 first downs on 4th and 2 to send the Trailblazers into euphoria.
“I don’t know how to explain that one,” Diederichs said. “Heat of the moment, battle of the game. Just happened.”
It was a microcosm of the mistakes made by the Wildcats.
They coughed up the ball twice on their first three plays. They couldn’t tackle Beckman running back Owen Huehnergarth, who finished with a game-high 174 rushing yards, on first contact. Miscommunication happened multiple times between Head and his wide receivers.
Add in not taking advantage of two turnovers, it spelled the end of the season for Durant.
“(Huehnergarth) won’t go down first hit, so when we had those corners out there trying to take him one-on-one, he was just too big,” DeLong said.
Yet after not scoring in the first 29 minutes and trailing 10-0, the Wildcats scored twice in the span of four minutes to take a four-point lead.
Cameron Ruggiero caught a 5-yard screen pass from Head for Durant's first TD. That was set up by the same play that Ruggiero bolted for 37 yards earlier in the drive.
Then, after Beckman hit a 1-yard punt, DeLong found a hole on the left side of the offensive line and went untouched for a 48-yard scamper for the lead. Held to nine yards on four carries in the first half, DeLong finished with 92 yards.
“That was the energizer,” DeLong said. “We’re that second-half team so we came out and we played our game. That’s all I got to say.”
Time was in Durant’s favor in the fourth. Backed up on its own goal line after a Trailblazer punt, it picked up three first downs – one on a fake punt by DeLong – and was near midfield.
On 3rd and 12, Head under threw a ball right into the hands of a Beckman defender that started the game-winning drive.
“I went by my gut with what I saw, it got caught up in the wind,” Diederichs said. “He’s just gotta throw it stronger into the wind. It floated.”
Head finished with 60 yards each on the ground and air in his final game donning the blue and gold.
DeLong returns as does much of the offensive line, but Head and key members of the secondary graduate.