Throughout the season, Rocky Lombardi and Dominique Dafney have made big plays in big games. Tonight, the duo connected on two plays before halftime that provided the spark West Des Moines Valley needed as they defeated Johnston, 35-7, in a Class 4A second-round playoff game at Valley Stadium.
A week after a pedestrian performance by Lombardi and Dafney against Des Moines East, both players got back on track when they were needed. After a scoreless 1st quarter, Lombardi (10-17, 153 yards, 2 TDs) orchestrated a 16-play drive over 87 yards, punctuated by Lombardi’s 1-yard quarterback sneak for a 7-0 lead with 10:19 left in the second quarter. That drive had Drew Gray written all over it. Gray racked up nearly 65 yards rushing on 12 of those plays.
Johnston’s defense was up to the task in the first half, forcing Valley to punt three times, despite Gray gaining 169 yards rushing. The Dragons’ offense punted on 4th down with about 2:00 left before halftime, setting up the key drive of the game. Lombardi ran on consecutive plays for nine and three yards respectively, and on the third play of the drive, he finds Dominique Dafney (4 receptions, 57 yards, 1 TD) streaking down the middle of the field and completes a 42-yard pass to the Johnston 8 yard line. On the ensuing play, Lombardi hooks up with Dafney again on a corner route to give Valley a 14-0 lead with three seconds left before halftime.
The scoring drive swung the momentum in Valley’s favor as the second half began. Gray (24 carries, 169 yards, 1 TD) continued his assault on the Dragons with the ground game. Johnston went for it on fourth down at their own 28, and running back T-Boy White was stuffed by Dan McCoy and the Tigers defensive line. A penalty on Johnston after the play, gave Valley the ball on the Dragons’ 14 and Lombardi made the most of the opportunity, completing a 14 yard pass to Austin Hronich to push the Tigers’ lead to 21-0 at the 2:08 mark of the third quarter.
Johnston went three and out to start the fourth quarter and Valley struck again, this time a 29-yard sweep play by Blake Salsbury made it 28-0.
The Dragons, who were able to gain yardage against Valley sporadically throughout the contest, got on the scoreboard with 4:00 left in the game when wide receiver Jared Seay took a reverse play to the Johnston sideline, reversed course, went back towards the Valley sideline and followed a convoy of blockers into the end zone for a 42 yard touchdown.
That fleeting moment would be short-lived for Johnston. Valley took the kickoff return and started their next drive past midfield in the Dragons’ territory and Drew Gray put the exclamation point on the Tigers’ win by slipping past defenders and exploding down the field for a 43-yard score.
Valley garnered 440 total yards, 287 of it rushing behind Gray, Javon Mason, and Lombardi. Reid Sinnett completed 12 of 26 passes for 118 yards for Johnston, while T-Boy White rushed for 13 times for 44 yards. The receiving tandem of Andrew Heuss, Jared Seay, Mark Johnson, and Regen Siems combined 9 receptions for 94 yards.
johnston ends their season with a 7-4 record. Valley advances to the quarterfinal round with a 10-1 record and a date with Waukee on Friday evening at 7:00 pm.