In what was billed as the game of the year in Iowa high school football, Southeast Polk and Dowling Catholic did not disappoint. The two undefeated teams, ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in Class 5A, put on a show of offensive fireworks and clutch plays in front of a packed crowd at Southeast Polk Stadium on Friday night. The Rams prevailed over the Maroons by a score of 49-42, snapping Dowling’s 10-game winning streak over Southeast Polk and clinching the district title.
The game featured two of the best quarterbacks in the state, Southeast Polk’s Connor Moberly and Dowling’s Jaxon Smolik, who combined for nine touchdown passes and over 700 passing yards. Moberly threw for 378 yards and five touchdowns, while Smolik passed for 329 yards and four touchdowns. Both quarterbacks also ran for a score each.
The game was a back-and-forth affair, with neither team leading by more than seven points at any time. The Rams took a 21-14 lead into halftime, but the Maroons scored twice in the third quarter to go up 28-21. The Rams responded with two touchdowns of their own to regain the lead, 35-28, early in the fourth quarter. The Maroons tied the game again with a touchdown pass from Smolik to Carson Brown, who had a monster game with 11 catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns.
The Rams then took the lead for good with a touchdown pass from Moberly to Xavier Nwankpa, who also had a huge night with seven catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns. Nwankpa also made a key interception on defense to stop a Dowling drive in the final minutes. The Rams sealed the win with another touchdown pass from Moberly to Titus Christiansen, who caught three touchdowns in the game.
Rams make history with first win over Maroons since 2011
The win was a historic one for Southeast Polk, who had not beaten Dowling since 2011. The Maroons had won the last 10 meetings between the two teams, including four playoff games. The Rams had also lost to the Maroons in the state championship game in 2012 and 2020.
The win also gave the Rams their first district title since 2013 and secured them a top seed in the playoffs. The Rams improved to 8-0 on the season and extended their regular season winning streak to 17 games.
The loss was a rare one for Dowling, who had won eight of the last nine state titles in Class 5A. The Maroons fell to 7-1 on the season and will likely face a tougher road in the playoffs as a lower seed.
Game draws statewide attention and praise
The game was widely anticipated as the matchup of the year in Iowa high school football, and it lived up to the hype. The game drew a large crowd of fans from both schools, as well as media attention from across the state. KCCI recapped the game on YouTube, while MSN, KCCI, KCCI and KCCI also covered the game on their websites.
The game also earned praise from players, coaches and fans on social media, who hailed it as an instant classic and one of the best games they had ever seen or played in. Both teams showed respect and sportsmanship after the game, congratulating each other on a great performance.