CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Washington knew it faced a battle against a Cedar Falls defense that allowed less than 10 points per game.
And while it looked like the Warriors might engineer a last-minute escape, the Tigers pounced with the pivotal play.
Cedar Falls defensive back Daniel Martinson thwarted a Washington comeback attempt with a goal-line interception on fourth down with 1:11 to go, and the Tigers held on for a 27-21 upset of Class 4A No. 3 Washington Friday night at Kingston Stadium.
“I could tell that guy was coming down in that slant,” Martinson said. “I just broke hard. I wasn’t even going for the pick, really. I was just trying to break it up. The pick worked out.”
The interception was the third of the game for the Cedar Falls defense – which held Washington to 24 rushing yards and recovered a fumble – against Warriors quarterback Bryan Kunde, who pulled Washington within 27-21 with a 32-yard TD pass to Brian Saylor midway through the final period.
After the Warriors (5-1, 1-1 District 5) forced a three-and-out, Kunde drove to the six-yard-line in the closing minutes on the strength of a pair of fourth-down conversions, but Martinson’s theft made sure there would not be a third.
“We kind of waited until the last six minutes to turn things on,” Washington Coach Paul James said. “Against a quality team like Cedar Falls, you can’t do that. They’re well-coached, they’re well-prepared and they come to play every night. For whatever reason, we didn’t make plays.”
Cedar Falls led for virtually the entire game, beginning with a six-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Sam Cirksena – who started in place of injured Luke Gillett – to Luke Loechner for a 7-0 first-quarter lead.
The teams combined for 31 points in the second quarter, beginning with a 22-yard interception return by Washington linebacker Sam Nassif that tied the score at 7-7.
The Washington defense could not corral Cedar Falls tailback Hayden Clausen, who tallied touchdown runs of 10 and 66 yards in the second quarter that sent the Tigers to the halftime locker room up, 24-14.
Clausen gouged the Washington defense with 199 yards on 29 carries.
“Big plays, went back and forth and so forth against a really good team,” said Cedar Falls Coach Brad Remmert, whose team improved to 4-2, 2-0 in District 5. “I’m just proud of this program. That was a big win for us. We needed that.”
Kunde threw for 296 yards and two scores and the three interceptions. Washington receiver Drew Dostal caught nine passes for 176 yards, including a 67-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
Washington visits Mason City next week, while Cedar Falls hosts undefeated Waterloo West.