Every football coach tells his players turnovers are one major difference maker in a football game. Tom Wilson is in that camp.
For a team that committed only single digit turnovers over 14 games, West Des Moines Dowling Catholic almost committed their season’s allotment in one night at Drake Stadium. An interception, a fumble and a turnover on downs contributed to the 28-21 loss to West Des Moines Valley in the 2011 season opener for both teams.
Just ask Tiger head coach Gary Swenson about turnovers. Fumbles and interceptions lead to losses to the rival Maroons the previous 3 meetings. This time the turnovers helped propel the West Des Moines Valley Tigers to victory in Week Zero.
The Maroon miscues in the 4th quarter resulted in the game-winning touchdown run by Valley’s Trey Lewis. The second turnover ended the chances of Dowling Catholic keeping their 14-game winning streak alive.
But the Maroons from West Des Moines kept even with the Tigers, even after losing a key player on the first play of the game. Michael Palme was injured on the opening kick-off. Palme was listed as the Rover linebacker and backup tailback and didn’t get to see more action in front of the 9,000+ fans.
That injury shuffled Coach Tom Wilson’s strategy in a hurry. The Maroon’s first offensive series featured two quarterbacks and several formations. The drive was briefly kept alive by a fake punt by Matthew Haack but would eventually stall on the Valley 18.
Valley has a tradition of a big offensive line, strong running backs and excellent linebackers. All of those are visible in this 2011 Valley team. Trey Lewis ran all over the field behind the offensive line for 24 carries and 198 yards. He started to find his groove midway through the first quarter and scored the game’s first points on the third play of the second quarter from 2 yards out.
Dowling Catholic would deploy Ben Goaley left and right for a good series that included a nice catch by super prospect Amarah Darboh for 25 yards. Dan Hartlieb would follow a great seal block by Goaley to get his first varsity touchdown from 20 yards out to even the score with 7:53 to play in the 2nd.
The Dowling D responded with a sack and a couple of back of forth series before TJ Palme fell on a fumble. 2 plays later, Hartlieb would hit Darboh from 42 yards out for the score and the Maroon’s first lead of the game.
The Tigers would strike before halftime on the legs of Trey Lewis for a score to tie it at 14.
Alex Heckman, seeing more defensive playing time because of an injury to starting safety Jacob Stacy, would be in on special teams and block a Valley punt. The Maroons would cash that chip in for 6 points on a 7 yard TD run by Ben Goaley.
Later in the quarter, Hartlieb would have to leave the field on an injury, forcing tight end Jon Wisnieski under center. He would throw the interception which the Tigers would later score the touchdown to tie the game at 21. But that Valley drive featured back up tail back Tyus Mason. The sophomore’s fresh legs helped beat back a weakening Maroon defense before QB Jeff Pullen snuck behind his huge offensive line for the score.
Then things got interesting. Dowling was moving the ball behind Goaley’s legs before a blitz by the Valley linebackers disrupted the timing in the backfield and forcing a fumble.
Valley would turn to Mason for a 13 yards, Lewis for 12 before calling on the senior on 4th and 2. He would convert and extend the drive. Then Lewis put on the real show on the next snap, darting left, great cut back right into the endzone with 2:23 remaining in the game. Lewis’ third touchdown of the game came from 24 yards out.
A great kick-off return by Brandon Ogden set Dowling Catholic up for a shorter field. But, a quarterback sneak by Hartlieb was stuff and for the first time in 645 days, the Dowling Catholic Maroons were on the losing end of the scoreboard.
The Maroons ran the ball 31 times for 130 yards, passing was 11-21 for 143 yards for 273 yards of total offense.
The Tigers had 41 carries for 304 yards, 9-13 passing for 65 yards and 369 yards of total offense.
Valley travels to Ottumwa and the Maroons host Council Bluffs Thomas Jefferson. Last season, Dowling Catholic crushed the Yellow Jackets 69-0. TJ dropped their opener to cross-town rival Abraham Lincoln by a similar 28-21 score.
Thanks to those of you who watched the webcast on DowlingWebcasting.com You can see 4 more Maroon home games, including this week’s game. We’ll also be on the radio on the official home of Dowling Catholic Sports, 1150 KWKY. We also stream the audio at kwky.com