Bacon, Hamilton lead Iowa City High to first round playoff win

In a dominating 41-16 victory over winless Ottumwa, the rushing game was strong for the Little Hawks.


Hannah Kinson

City High quarterback Raph Hamilton runs the ball in for a touchdown during the first varsity football playoff game between City High and Ottumwa on Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. The Little Hawks defeated the Bulldogs with a score 41-16. At the beginning of the game, announcers told the crowd to wear masks and practice social distancing. (Hannah Kinson/The Daily Iowan)

Isaac Goffin, Assistant Sports Editor

A narrow defeat to rival Iowa City Liberty last week could have carried over into the playoffs for Iowa City High, but it didn’t

In their first-round Class 4A playoff game against the winless Ottumwa Bulldogs, the Little Hawks’ running game led to a 41-16 victory.

“We had a very good week,” Iowa City High head coach Dan Sabers said. “The guys got excited. They begged me to get the black jerseys back out, so I said, ‘Alright, we’ll do whatever the hell we have to.’ And they came out and did a great job.”

On their second drive of the game, the Little Hawks helped someone fulfill a career milestone. Senior fullback Joe Bacon took it in from two yards out with 45 seconds eclipsed in the second quarter.

That was his first TD of his varsity career, and he scored another one from one yard out in the fourth quarter.

“I guess it’s kind of like hitting a brick wall and then you just got to keep running through it and then a hole eventually opens up, pull the bodies and you just fall through,” Bacon said. “And the ref lifted his arms and that was a good feeling.”

Bacon was also proud of his teammates. He said it was fun to go out with a dominating victory in the team’s final home game of the season.

On the first drive of the game, senior Raph Hamilton turned a quarterback sneak from 15 yards out into a TD with 9:04 to go in the first quarter. Like former Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, Hamilton had several successful quarterback sneaks throughout the game.

Junior receiver Gable Mitchell got into the scoring as he caught a 21-yard pass from Hamilton, diving into the northwest corner of the end zone. The Little Hawks then missed the extra point with 1:22 to go in the first half.

On the Little Hawks first drive of the second half, junior running back Joey Bouska – who had made some nice runs in the game – found his way into the end zone from 11 yards out.

“The run game definitely a team effort,” Hamilton said. “I mean, all credit goes up to those guys up front creating the whole setup.”

The Bulldogs scoring got started like the Mitchell TD, as a Bulldog receiver got the ball in the southwest corner of the end zone from 16 yards out halfway through the second quarter.

On their next possession, senior running back Colton McKinnon took it down the Little Hawks’ sideline for 51 yards to score a TD with 21.4 seconds to go in the first half. The Bulldogs had their chances after that, but all they got was a safety late in the game after a high snap on a punt attempt from City High.

City High (2-3) will take it across town to its enemy, Iowa City West, next week for the second round of the playoffs. The Trojans (4-0) had this week off. In their matchup in Week 2, the Little Hawks lost, 56-20.

“This is redemption week,” Bacon said. “The teams always have a long history of battling and they had our number the last few years and earlier this season and it’s time. It’s payback time.”

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