Central Lyon/George-Little Rock loses heartbreaker in 2A Football Championship to Van Meter

Lions hopes for a repeat slip away on goal line stand in 24-21 defeat
Fall to Van Meter 24-21
Published: Nov. 18, 2023 at 12:00 AM CST
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CEDAR FALLS, IA (Dakota News Now) - For a senior class that had done nothing but win and execute at the highest level over the last two years at Central Lyon/George-Little Rock, the ending of the 2A State Championship game is particularly brutal.

After seeing Van Meter rally from 11 down entering the fourth quarter to go up three with 4:45 to go, the defending 2A Champion Lions drove down to the Van Meter eight yard line, eventually forcing a fourth and goal at the three. From there a miscommunication led to the snap coming before quarterback Reece Vander Zee expected it, sending it downfield and leading to a 26 yard loss and turnover on downs that sealed Van Meter’s 24-21 victory and spoiled Central Lyon’s repeat bid.

It was the Lions first loss of the season (12-1) and their first defeat since November 5, 2021, ending a 25-game win streak.

All of this coming after it appear as though Central Lyon was on the brink of extending the win streak to 26. After a scoreless first quarter, Vander Zee found Graham Eben on a screen and the senior went 17 yards for a go-ahead touchdown that put Central Lyon in front 7-3. Following a Van Meter score to retake the lead the Lions regained momentum with 29 seconds left in the half when Vander Zee connected with Matthew Dieren on a play-action pass for a 17-yard touchdown that gave the Lions a 14-10 lead at the break.

Eben would score the only touchdown of the third quarter on a two yard run to put Central Lyon ahead 21-10 entering the fourth quarter.

Early in the fourth the Bulldogs went to the bag of tricks, drawing up a double reverse flea flicker that ended with Austin Baumhover throwing a seven yard touchdown pass to Porter Doggett, pulling Van Meter within 21-16 though they would fail a two-point conversion attempt.

Though Central Lyon picked up a first down on their next drive another botched fumble led to a 20 yard loss and forced a punt. Van Meter then drove 56 yards and went ahead for good on Caleb Moore’s nine yard end around run.

Van Meter finishes the year 13-0 and won their third consecutive state championship, the previous two having come in Class 1A.

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