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CEDAR RAPIDS — It was a sequence that explains why Cedar Rapids Jefferson’s football team hasn’t won a game this season. And why Waterloo West’s hasn’t lost one.
Devonte Taylor ran the kickoff back all the way to begin the second half for Jeff. It was his second kickoff return for touchdown in the game.
Only it wasn’t.
A block-in-the-back penalty negated Taylor’s apparent huge play. Jefferson gets a starting lineman ejected two plays later for an alleged punch, West linebacker Dylan Meyer intercepts a J-Hawks pass the play after that, Carlton Todd runs 5 yards for a touchdown the play after that, and Class 4A No. 8 West escapes Kingston Stadium with a 35-20 win Thursday night.
The Wahawks are 6-0, with some momentum going into their big district game next week against rival Cedar Falls. Jefferson is 0-6 and left wondering why this awful history keeps repeating itself.
“We knew that they had a real tough schedule,” said West quarterback Devon Moore. “Their losses, the games were all close in the first half. With their numbers, they probably get a little tired. I thought they were a great team. I feel like we didn’t have their respect coming in before the game, but I really felt like we earned it tonight.”
Moore, the Iowa State recruit, completed 9 of 17 passes for 186 yards and two long touchdowns, including a key one late in the second quarter. With Jefferson ahead, 20-14, the lefty threw a perfect line drive down the left sideline that hit receiver Tayshaun Cooper in stride en route to a 61-yard score.
The extra point gave the Wahawks a 21-20 edge. The third quarter began the way it did, and that was all she wrote.
“There were a lot of great plays in the game,” Meyer said, when asked if his pick turned things for good. “That one, it was a good play. My other linebacker, Sam Gerst, came on an outside blitz and gave the quarterback some pressure. I moved to the middle, just saw the ball in the open and snagged it.”
“It’s like a grenade. Boom,” Jefferson Coach Brian Webb said. “I don’t know. At the end of the first half, that big vertical pass down the sideline. I really feel like if we had gone into half with a two-touchdown lead, we were going to beat those guys. But it wasn’t meant to be tonight.”
The first half was like a table-tennis game, with the teams playing fast and moving the ball back and forth.
Jefferson got a deflection interception by Logan Klein off a long Moore pass on the opening offensive possession of the game. Running back Tavian Rashed gashed West for 22 yards on the J-Hawks first play from scrimmage and was mainly responsible for taking the J-Hawks into the red zone.
Taylor had back-to-back jet sweeps inside the 10, including a 4-yard score. Tyler Hefflefinger’s extra-point attempt smacked squarely off the left upright.
West came right back two plays later, when Moore threw a quick pass in the flat to Carlton Todd, with the speedster getting to the edge and sprinting past the defense down the sideline for a 54-yard TD. Adijan Muhamedagic’s extra point gave the Wahawks a 7-6 lead.
Jefferson drove right back down field for a go-ahead touchdown. Rashed rambled 45 yards on the opening play of the drive, with QB Dylan Hart eventually sneaking it over from the 1-yard line.
Five consecutive Harrison Eighmey rushes accounted for 64 yards and an immediate West response. The senior back, who had 153 yards on 18 carries, ran a read-option play 10 yards for a touchdown.
Taylor ran the ensuing kickoff back for a 99-yard score that pushed Jefferson back in front. Momentum actually carried him into the end zone, but he was allowed to run the kick out because he fielded it at the 1.
“I’ve had more miscues at inopportune times this season than I’ve ever had in my coaching career,” Webb said. “We’ve tried to fix those things mentally in practice. I don’t know why we’re making those mistakes. Obviously as a head coach, I’m trying to fix them. I think it’s more of a psychological thing at this point than it is Xs and Os. We just keep making mistakes at the wrong time.”
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