CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — Josey Jewell felt the momentum slipping, and started having flashbacks to last season.
As a junior, his Decorah team lost a 21-14 decision to Union in the Class 3-A championship game.
“At the end of the second quarter and during halftime, I thought about how it felt, and how I didn't want that again,'' he said of last year's loss.
Jewell took matters into his own hands to assure that he would leave the field with a different feeling this year.
Jewell's 47-yard touchdown run on Decorah's first possession of the third quarter put his team up 28-14, and two plays later, he followed with a 20-yard interception return to the 6, setting up another score. Decorah never looked back in a 49-21 victory over Sioux City Heelan Thursday in the Class 3-A championship game at the UNI-Dome.
“That whole team is one that you savor for a long time,'' Heelan coach Roger Jansen said. “I can kind of relate to that. We had ours in '08, and I think (coach) Bill (Post) had his this year.''
In 2008, Heelan beat Decorah 35-10 in the championship game. But the Crusaders couldn't solve the Vikings four years later, largely because of the presence of Jewell.
The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder is a throwback player. He finished with 23 carries for 160 yards and three touchdowns, picking up many of the yards after contact. He also completed a pass for 32 yards, caught one for 23, returned two punts for 26 and made three solo tackles and two assists.
“He's a special player, there's no doubt about it,'' Jansen said.
Heelan dug itself an early 21-0 hole before rallying. Trent Solsma was intercepted by Brett Johnson on the first play, setting up the Vikings on the Crusader 16. The Vikings scored four plays later.
On Heelan's third possession, Josh Ihde picked off Solsma after his high attempt was tipped by receiver Philip Jacobson. That set up Jewell's 1-yard plunge, making it 14-0.
Jewell's diving 22-yard reception gave Decorah a first-and-goal at the 3, and Jewell scored from the 1 two plays later, pushing it to 21-0.
Heelan battled back into contention with a pair of scores before the intermission. The Crusaders drove 80 yards in nine plays, with Connor Niles scoring from the 4 on a reverse carry.
Then the District 2 champs took over on their 23 with 1:23 left before the intermission. Solsma hit Niles for 52 yards to the 5, setting up Solsma's 2-yard TD pass to Connor Spears.
Suddenly it was a 21-14 game. Solsma, who in the game became the 14th Iowa prep to pass for 3,000 yards in a season, said the halftime break came at a bad time. But his team felt good in the locker room.
“We thought we had a lot of momentum that we could carry into the second half,'' Solsma said. “We hoped to build off that last drive in the first half, but unfortunately that wasn't the case.''
Jewell's 47-yard run made it 28-14. Solsma was picked off on his first throw of the half again, leading to Holt Johansen's 4-yard TD run. The Crusaders were never a factor again, as the 35-point running clock started with 7:36 left and was halted after they scored with 3:21 remaining.
Heelan simply couldn't get off the field when it needed to. Decorah was 10 of 14 on third down.
Heelan returns an abundance of gifted juniors, including Solsma, who passed for 202 yards and two scores to go with the three picks.
“For every good play I make, I always feel like I have that one that I can't forget about,'' he said.
Solsma said his team will use the loss as motivation to get back on the same field next season.
“We've got a lot of weapons coming back for next year, and I can't wait for it,'' he said.
Decorah (14-0)........................14 7 21 7—49
SC Heelan (12-2).......................0 14 0 7—21
D: Holt Johansen 4 run (Josh Lee kick)
D: Josey Jewell 4 run (Lee kick)
D: Jewell 1 run (Lee kick)
H: Connor Niles 17 run (Tyler Stolen kick)
H: Connor Spears 2 pass from Trent Solsma (Stolen kick)
D: Jewell 47 run (Lee kick)
D: Johansen 4 run (Lee kick)
D: Jacob Kvale 5 run (Lee kick)
D: Michael Peter 36 pass from Kvale (Lee kick)
H: Niles 12 pass from Solsma (Stolen kick)
RUSHING: D, Josey Jewell 23-160, Holt Johansen 16-62, Drew Schwartz 4-29, Jacob Kvale 5-12. H, Jack Wegher 13-39, Connor Niles 2-20, Trent Solsma 7-8, Manny Alcaraz 1-5.
PASSING: D, Jacob Kvale 4-8-0, 85 yards, 1 TD; Josey Jewell 1-1-0, 32 yards. H, Trent Solsma 13-29-3, 202 yards, 2 TDs.
RECEIVING: D, Michael Peter 1-36, Drew Schwartz 1-32, Josey Jewell 1-23, Cole Svestka 1-16. H, Connor Niles 7-143, Philip Jacobson 3-45, Jimmy Fitzsimmons 1-13, Connor Spears 1-2.
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