Any time there is a single-elimination playoff format in sports, the potential for chaos is always around the corner.
On Friday night in Ankeny, the chaos showed itself in more ways than one.
The 12th-seeded Urbandale football team scraped by No. 4 Ankeny Centennial–a team that beat the J-Hawks by 20 points in Week 2–after making a two-point conversion with 16 seconds to play at Ankeny Stadium. That allowed the J-Hawks to pull off a stunning 29-28 upset.
“Any time your season ends, it’s a blow, whether it’s in the first-round playoff game or in the state finals,” said Centennial co-head coach Ryan Pezzetti.
The two teams combined for eight turnovers throughout the game.
In the end, though, it was Urbandale coming out with the win after the clock expired.
“Our kids gave an effort tonight,” said Pezzetti, whose team finished with an 8-2 record. “We had some breakdowns that we couldn’t have. Urbandale came ready to play tonight, obviously. I thought we did, too, but we got the short end of the stick tonight. My hat’s off to Urbandale.”
Centennial’s defense started off the game disrupting Urbandale quarterback Ty Langenberg in the backfield and forcing a quick three-and-out.
On the Jaguars’ second play from scrimmage, Avery Gates found the end zone, scoring on a 56-yard reception and giving his team some big momentum early on.
That’s when something clicked on the Urbandale sideline.
The J-Hawks drove down the field and Langenberg eventually completed a 36-yard pass to his brother, Tucker, to tie the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter.
After seeing how successful the offense was running, Urbandale then tried an onside kick that worked to perfection. Tucker Langenberg came up with the ball for the J-Hawks.
Shortly thereafter, Ty Langenberg ran 4 yards for a touchdown, giving Urbandale a 14-7 lead.
Centennial would rally back, though. The Jaguars tied the game on a 13-yard run by Tyler Johnson, and the score would remain the same through the end of the first quarter.
The game then turned into a defensive struggle over the next two periods, which featured a plethora of turnovers and big stops.
Eventually, the Centennial offense found something and the Jaguars scored a go-ahead touchdown on a pass from Hayes Gibson to Kein Valentine to take a 21-14 lead late in the half.
Centennial would get another shot at a score with 18 seconds to play in the half after Jackie Wells recovered a fumble at the Urbandale 42-yard line. However, Connor Page hit the upright on a 43-yard field-goal attempt as time expired in the half.
“When you get in the playoff games, the competition rises,” Pezzetti said. “You can play devil’s advocate, and you can second-guess yourself. We felt we had a nice game plan coming in. We scored some points. We had some stops, but in the end it just wasn’t enough.”
The third quarter remained just as unpredictable as the first two.
With under 4 minutes to play in the period, Centennial’s Keaton Gray picked off a pass for the game’s sixth turnover and gave Centennial some extra momentum.
The Jaguars drove down the field and utilized some big runs by both Johnson and Gates to make it to the Urbandale 4-yard line as the quarter ended.
However, due to a fumble, Urbandale regained possession of the ball.
The J-Hawks were eventually forced to put, but Gates muffed the ball on a fair catch and Urbandale recovered at the Jaguars’ 15. The J-Hawks then scored the tying touchdown with 6:20 remaining.
Even though the Jaguars hadn’t found the end zone in the second half, their offense didn’t blink.
Gibson completed a 49-yard pass to Dylan DeAngelo for the go-ahead score with about 4 minutes left on the clock.
It was do-or-die for Urbandale, and the J-Hawks stepped up and made big plays down the stretch.
Urbandale had two third-down conversions as well as a fourth-down conversion on its way to scoring with 16 seconds remaining.
Before the team could take a PAT, Urbandale called a timeout to draw up the game-winning play.
Ty Langenberg found wideout Max Llewellyn wide open in the back of the end zone, and the J-Hawks walked away with the win.
Pezzetti said he learned a bit from the loss, aside from the impact of it.
“Absolutely,” Pezzetti said. “You look and see what maybe you missed, and we’ll look at going forward how we can do a better job.”
Urbandale (7-3) will travel to Cedar Rapids next week to face No. 5 Kennedy (9-1). The Cougars advanced to the quarterfinals with a 63-6 victory over Fort Dodge.