IOWA CITY - Bill Schwarz is a firm believer in the #x201c;power of the pack.#x201d;
The Cedar Rapids Prairie boys' cross country coach knows, in the absence of a front-runner, the success of his team typically relies on essential contributi ... »
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CEDAR RAPIDS — Ran over, ran through and then ran away.
Cedar Rapids Prairie ran to celebrate with its fans after the first victory of the season.
The Hawks rushed for 367 yards, scoring four unmatched touchdowns in the second half, for a 38-14 victory over Cedar Rapids Jefferson Friday night at John Wall Field.
“We felt pretty good about our second-half adjustments,” Prairie Coach Mark Bliss said. “The kids came out and physically did a nice job and controlled the line of scrimmage, which allowed us to put it away.”
Prairie (1-1) dominated after the break, scoring on its first four offensive drives after the break and eclipsing a 14-12 deficit. The Hawks produced touchdown drives of 11, eight and eight plays without attempting a pass, breaking the game open.
“We decided to pound them, chew clock and have some fun,” Bliss said. “Our kids did exactly what we asked them to do and we’re very proud of them.”
Joe Meyer and Zach Ganske were at the center of the rushing attack. They combined for 300 rushing yards. Meyer ran for 167, including touchdown runs of 6, 6 and 5 yards to put Prairie up, 32-14 midway through the fourth.
“Both are very elusive guys,” Bliss said. “They don’t have blazing speed but they have great vision. They find ways to make people miss and move the chains.”
The Hawks felt the tide turn once they started to move the ball at will. They changed the attack and gained confidence with the momentum.
“When we went to the wildcat package and we kept going on them, they just seemed like they didn’t have an answer for it,” Meyer said. “I think that’s when everyone realized it was time to go and put the foot on the pedal and get this done.”
Prairie’s defense helped the cause, shutting the J-Hawks out the final 31:39 of the game. The Hawks received key turnovers, including an interception by Chance Halfhill when Jefferson was driving and trying to regain the lead in the third.
“I’m very proud of our defense,” Bliss said. “One of them gave us the ball with a short field and allowed us to go in and score. It put us in position to put it away.”
Ganske scored two twice in the first half, running for a 10-yard touchdown and a 6-0 Prairie lead. He also plucked a Meyer fumble out of the air and scrambled 25 yards for a TD to give the Hawks a 12-7 lead with 9:10 left in the second. He finished with 133 yards on the ground.
“Zach and I have been working really hard, but none of that happens without the (offensive) line,” Meyer said. “They aren’t the biggest guys, but they definitely have the biggest hearts I know.”
The J-Hawks took a 7-6 lead less than four minutes later. Tavian Rashed returned the kickoff 61 yards to the Prairie 30. Keenan Stewart plunged in from one yard eight plays later for a 7-6 lead.
Jefferson showed its big-play ability on its second score. Facing 3rd-and-13, Dylan Hart hit Jacob Henderson for a 79-yard scoring strike. Henderson shed a tackler at the Prairie 39 and was gone to make it 14-12.
The J-Hawks (0-2) didn’t have enough gas to hang with Prairie after the break.
“There’s just not enough depth to fill those voids,” Jefferson Coach Brian Webb said. “Our kids don’t come off the field. Not that we’re any different from other schools. We just struggle with depth and quality of depth.”
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