CEDAR FALLS - In spite of three first-half turnovers and a blocked punt that was returned for a touchdown, Spirit Lake never panicked.
Down 7-0, the Indians came out and scored 17 points in the third quarter and held on for a 17-15 win over Mediapolis for Spirit Lake's first-ever football title.
The Class 2A game featured stellar defense by both teams, but the Indians turned two interceptions into points in that third quarter.
Spirit Lake players celebrate their Class 2A State Football title Friday evening at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls after defeating Mediapolis 17-15.
Photo courtesy SJSmith Photogrphy
Paul Brown, who had thrown one interception in the first half, came up with the first pick of Drew Foster on Mediapolis' first drive of the second half.
Starting at the Mediapolis 23, Brown completed a pass to Casey Spaeth for 14 yards, then Bryson McCabe ran for 7 yards and Cody Poock ran for 1.
With third-and-goal at the 1-yard line, a false start by the Indians pushed them back to the 6. Brown could only rush for 3 yards on the next play and Brett Cochran-Bray stepped on the field fro a 20-yard field goal at the 8:58 mark.
On the Bulldogs' next drive, Nick Amundson picked off Foster at midfield and returned the ball to the Mediapolis 29.
On Spirit Lake's first play from scrimmage, Brown connected with Amundson in the corner of the end zone as Spirit Lake took its first lead. Cochran-Bray kicked the extra point as Spirit Lake led 10-7.
Mediapolis drove to midfield before the Bulldogs had to punt.
Spirit Lake's drive started at the 21-yard line and it took just four plays to get back to pay dirt. Brown connected with Bryson McCabe for a 44-yard strike then Brown rushed for 12 yards. Brown then connected on a 20-yard pass to Rick Maris and finished the drive himself on a 3-yard run. Cochran-Bray's extra point made it 17-7 with 2:23 left in the third quarter.
Spirit Lake's final drive of the third quarter ended in a fumble at midfield. That began what we be Mediapolis' final scoring drive. The Bulldogs marched 47 yards in 7 plays ending on a 1-yard run by Dalton Scott. The extra point attempt went ride right, but Spirit Lake's deficit was cut to 17-13.
After Spirit Lake went three-and-out, Mediapolis began another long drive, but the Bulldogs had three incomplete passes from the Indians' 19.
Foster's fourth-down pass to Jordan Wagenbach was nearly caught in the end zone, but Indian defenders were able to knock the ball out before the 6-1 senior hit the ground.
With 4:20 left in the game, Spirit Lake worked to run out the block, but Casey Spaeth's second fumble of the game gave Mediapolis the ball at the Spirit Lake 36 with 2:06 remaining in the game.
But Foster went for the big play on first down and Spirit Lake's Tyler Petersen intercepted the ball at the 6-yard line.
The Indians were unable to get a first down to easily run out the clock.
However on fourth-and-4 from their 11-yard line, Poock took the snap ran back into his own end zone for a safety while running at the final 5 seconds.
Both teams were even in passing yards with Foster going 15-of-31 for 220 yards and three interceptions. For Spirit Lake, Brown was 14-of-18 for 213 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Spirit Lake's Bryson McCabe finished with five catches for 90 yards. Amundson had two catches for 32, Poock had two for 30, Spaeth had two for 28, Maris had two for 27 and Zach Arneson had one for 6 yards.
The Indians held Mediapolis to 33 rushing yards on 32 carries. The Indians had 77 yards on 40 carries.
McCabe led the way with 28 yards on five carries while Brown had 23 yards on 14 carries, Poock had 18 yards on 14 carries and Maris had four yards on 15 carries.
In the first half, Spirit Lake started with the ball and went three-and-out.
On fourth down, Black Beckman blocked Poock's punt and Chase Miller returned it 30 yards for a touchdown with less than 2 minutes gone in the game.
Spirit Lake also gave up two fumbles and an interception in the first half.
Defensively, Ben Spaeth led the Indians with 11 solo tackles and finished with 11.5 for the game. Poock had six tackles and Brown had 5.5.