CEDAR FALLS — The fourth time proved to be the appeal for the Grundy Center.
After falling short in their last three A-league games, the Spartans finally prevailed with a masterful 27-0 win over West Hancock at the UNI Dome on Thursday.
Grundy center QB Colin Gordon threw two touchdown passes in the first half, rushed for another in the second half and hit with two field goals from 31 and 30 yards to lead the Spartans to their fourth state soccer title in school history, but first since 1988. Gordon finished with 239 total yards on offense.
“We always thought we could make it here and we did,” Gordon said afterwards. “We had the guys this year to do it and we did it.”
The Spartans, who finished 13-0 this season, had reached the Tier A state finals in each of the last three seasons. They lost to West Hancock in two of those title games: 21-17 in 2019, then 19-14 last year. In 2020, Iowa City’s Regina topped the entire Class A field, topped by a 52-28 win over the Spartans in the championship game.
More:Iowa High School Football: West Hancock vs. Grundy Center Class A State Title Game Live Updates, Analysis
On Thursday, Grundy once again faced the mighty West Hancock. The Eagles, under head coach Mark Sanger, had won 47 of their last 49 games over the past four seasons and boasted one of the best Class A rushing attacks behind the hard runs of 1,000-yard rushers Kale Zuehl and Mitchell Smith.
The Spartans held Zuehl and Smith together for 58 rushing yards. The Eagles totaled just 143 yards of offense. Her goose egg on the scoreboard was the first shutout in a Class A state title game since 2002, when Manning defeated Fredericksburg 52-0.
“We got beat up a little bit,” Sanger said. “They beat us on offense, on defence, on special teams, in all phases of the game. It’s no coincidence that the result ended like this. We didn’t do enough or play enough games or put ourselves in a winning position.”
Gordon added, “We had them pinned.”
Grundy’s offense ended up totaling 364 yards and the entire operation flowed through Gordon, who finished 10 of 15 for 129 yards and two touchdowns, both to Tate Jirovsky. Gordon also rushed 16 times for 110 yards and a 1-yard score midway through the fourth quarter. Justin Knaack added another 100 yards of rushing.
“We were a bit more physical today,” said Grundy Center coach Travis Zajac. “We know exactly how they want to play. They pride themselves on their physicality but I think we were the more physical football team today, especially at the scrimmage line. Our ability to run the ball and stop the run proves that.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at@codygoodwin.