SIOUX CITY, Iowa — No. 7 Council Bluffs Lewis Central had been struggling on offense in the postseason.
Sioux City Heelan made sure that continued by bringing the pressure all night Friday.
The No. 5 Crusaders shut down the Titan running game, sacked quarterback Austin Simmons eight times and forced three turnovers in their 21-0 shutout in the Class 3-A quarterfinals at Memorial Field.
Heelan (11-1), which will face unbeaten Grinnell (12-0) at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls at 5:36 p.m. Thursday in the semifinals, limited L.C. to 139 total yards in one of its best defensive efforts to date.
“We felt that we were going to come with pressure,” Crusader coach Roger Jansen said. “There may have been some opportunities to give up some big plays. But we were going to trade that off to pressure him and get the ball out of his hands as quickly as we can.”
Zach Skibinski and Christian Brobst dropped Simmons on the second play of the game, setting the tone for what would be a long night for the Titan sophomore. He was sacked six times in the middle two quarters and was hurried on a number of other plays throughout the game.
“We came out knowing this was going to be a battle the whole game,” Skibinski said. “We played off our speed and our strength to get to the quarterback as fast as we could.”
Heelan held L.C. (9-3) to 77 yards and four first downs in the first half. It took a 7-0 lead into the locker room after a 10-play, 82-yard drive early in the second quarter.
Trent Solsma found Connor Spears over the middle for 18 and 34 yards on back-to-back passes to set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Manny Alcaraz with 8:39 left in the first half.
The Titans, however, stayed close by blocking a field-goal attempt as time expired. The Crusaders had a third-and-goal at the 2 before an Ethan Ruby sack forced the kick.
“Our defense kept us in the game,” L.C. coach Jim Duggan said. “We just couldn't produce offensively, and that was the difference in the game.”
The Crusaders opened the second half with a 68-yard drive to extend their lead. Solsma raced 20 yards up the middle on the final play of the possession to make it a two-score game.
After an L.C. punt, Solsma hit Philip Jacobson down the middle for a 58-yard TD to cap the scoring.
Heelan entered the quarterfinal averaging more than 40 points a game. It didn't need that many Friday with the way its defense played. Against a Titan offense that Duggan admitted hadn't been playing well recently, Heelan gave up less than 100 yards through three quarters.
Simmons was under heavy pressure all night, and L.C. couldn't get into an offensive rhythm.
“It was obviously going to be a lot tougher to complete passes,” the Titan sophomore said. “But the linemen and everybody did the best they could. You can't really be upset with anyone.”
The loss was L.C.'s second at this field under Duggan in the postseason. Heelan knocked the Titans out in the second round here in 2010 — the only other year in which L.C. had won a playoff game.
This was the first time in school history that L.C. had advanced to the quarterfinals. Duggan said that was an accomplishment his program can build upon.
“They set the standard for teams in the future,” he said. “They did something that nobody had ever done — got us to the quarterfinals. For our program, that's huge. It shows that we're going in the right direction.”
Lewis Central (9-3) .................. 0 0 0 0—0
Sioux City Heelan (11-1) .................. 0 7 14 0—21
SCH: Manny Alcaraz 1 run (Tyler Stolen kick)
SCH: Trent Solsma 20 run (Stolen kick)
SCH: Philip Jacobson 58 pass from Solsma (Stolen kick)
RUSHING: LC, Simmons 16-(-38), Martin 8-40, Miller 1-2. SCH, Wegher 11-49, Solsma 11-16, Alcaraz 9-16, Niles 2-15.
PASSING: LC, Simmons 11-23-2 135. SCH, Solsma 20-29-0 268, Fitzsimmons 0-1-0 0.
RECEIVING: LC, Savage 7-82, Hanafan 2-27, Duggan 1-15, Pettepier 1-11. SCH, Niles 7-73, Spears 4-88, Jacobson 4-82, Fitzsimmons 2-14, Wegher 2-(-8), Alcaraz 1-9.