CEDAR FALLS — Class 2A No. 3 PCM got down in the first half for the second straight week.
This time, there was no comeback or happy ending.
Fifth-ranked Waukon rushed for 302 yards and scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away from PCM’s football team late during a 38-21 victory in the 2A state semifinals inside the UNI-Dome on Nov. 14.
The Mustangs trailed 16-0 after one quarter and fell behind 24-7 in the second before getting as close as 24-21 early in the fourth quarter.
“We came out a little bit hesitant, and it showed,” PCM head coach Greg Bonnett said. “We thought we could win up to the very end. We felt really good still at halftime, but it just didn’t happen.”
The Indians, who are playing in the dome for the fourth straight season, lost starting quarterback Creed Welch to an injury in the first half but still found a way to win thanks in large part to a strong night on the ground.
Ethan O’Neill had 192 of Waukon’s 302 rushing yards and scored three times, including two fourth-quarter TDs that put the game away.
“We are probably more heavy on the run than we have been in previous years, but we’ll take whatever is there,” Waukon head coach Chad Beermann said. “If they can’t stop the run, we’ll do that or vice versa.”
Waukon (9-1) will try to get its second title in four years next week against No. 2 Central Lyon/George-Little Rock in the state title game.
The Lions routed sixth-ranked Camanche 41-0 in the other semifinal game.
The Indians scored on their first three possessions. The scoring drives covered 80 yards in nine plays, 76 yards in seven plays and 33 yards in 10 plays.
Waukon didn’t score again until the fourth quarter. O’Neill put the game away with two TD runs.
“I feel like we didn’t have enough energy at the start of the game. That’s what we thrive on. That’s what gets us going,” senior Sage Burns said.
Senior Jacob Van Winkle scored all three touchdowns for PCM, which capped its season at 10-1. Junior Tyler Kuecker made all three of his extra point attempts.
“We came out flat and weren’t very high on energy. As a collective unit, we didn’t do our jobs,” Van Winkle said. “If each player doesn’t do their job, it’s hard to win.”
Van Winkle caught a 6-yard TD pass from sophomore August Stock in the second quarter and then hauled in a 40-yarder from Stock in the final minutes of the half.
That gave the Mustangs some much-needed momentum at halftime despite trailing 24-14.
“We felt pretty good at halftime. We thought the gameplan was going to work,” Burns said.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but Van Winkle’s 23-yard TD run closed the Mustangs’ deficit to 24-21 with 11:20 left in the game.
It was the only points of the second half for PCM, which also turned it over twice, punted once and turned it over on downs another time.
“It’s disappointing to end the season this way. A lot of us put four years or blood, sweat and tears into the sport,” Van Winkle said.
Burns rushed for 114 yards on 18 carries. Van Winkle had two catches for 46 yards and two scores and rushed for 29 yards and another TD on five carries.
Stock threw for 76 yards and two TDs but also threw a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter. He rushed for 24 yards, and senior Gatlin Boell caught one pass for 30 yards.
The Mustang defense was led by senior Andrew Mitchell’s 7.5 tackles. Boell had 6.5 tackles, junior Kaden Hale finished with 5.5 tackles and senior Justin Maggard tallied 4.5 tackles.
Senior Landon Fenton added four tackles and seniors Greyson Strum and Cooper Sloan each had 3.5 tackles. Sloan also had a sack.
“The season always comes to an end. It’s always the ride that’s better than the end result,” Bonnett said. “When you lose, there’s just a disappointment that goes with it. I love all of these guys. I hope they love me back.”
Notes: Waukon had a 28:51 to 19:09 advantage in time of possession. ... The Indians’ defense tallied four sacks. ... Welch rushed for 58 yards on six carries and went 3-for-3 through the air for 50 yards before leaving the game in the second quarter with an injury. Pat Hennessy also rushed for 68 yards on six carries.