CEDAR RAPIDS — Haven Henningsen is taking hold of his second chance.
The Cedar Rapids Washington senior tailback — hampered last season by a nagging left-ankle injury that kept him out of action — wasn’t sure that restored health would equate to a starting spot.
His play on the football field has put that fear to rest.
Henningsen carried the ball 35 times for 185 yards as the Warriors overcame a game Cedar Rapids Jefferson squad, 21-18, in a Class 4A District 5 opener Friday night at Kingston Stadium.
“After missing my junior year, I’m willing to do whatever I can to help this team,” Henningsen said. “I feel like this game I put it out there and did what I could when I had the chance.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Henningsen entered the game ranked eighth in 4A in rushing yards, a total that now stands at 714. He accounted for nearly 75 percent of his team’s total yardage against the J-Hawks.
“He’s a big part of it,” first-year Washington Coach Maurice Blue said. “Running the ball is one of our better things. The passing game will get on track.”
After a scoreless first half, the teams combined for 26 third-quarter points.
Jefferson (1-4, 0-1 District 5) struck first with a 70-yard interception return by senior Mitchell Hall and a 6-0 lead. The defensive score delivered a jolt to both sidelines, and the Warriors immediately took their first lead when Henningsen accounted for 60 of 65 yards on the ensuing drive. His one-yard TD plunge got Washington on the board with a 7-6 advantage.
One play later, Jefferson receiver Kyler Bell took a short pass from quarterback Noah Vawter and raced for 80 yards down the sideline and across the open field for a jarring score that energized the home-side crowd.
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Again the jubilation was short-lived as Washington (3-2, 1-0) responded with an 88-yard kickoff return by speedster Keiyon Smith-Allen that set up a five-yard TD pass from Bryan Kunde to senior receiver Cade Saylor.
“We really just kept fighting,” Henningsen said. “We knew we could come out here and beat these guys if we stayed physical, kept fighting and stayed strong. We all had that big heart and just made it happen.”
A 17-yard TD pass from Vawter to sophomore Ezeki Leggins gave the J-Hawks an 18-14 lead with 6:09 to play, but a methodical 12-play, 67-yard Washington drive provided the final outcome when senior fullback Seth Semrau burrowed across the goal line for a two-yard score 1:28 from the final horn.
Kunde completed three passes on the game-winning drive, including a 10-yard strike on 3rd-and-8 from the Jefferson 13. The senior finished with 101 yards passing, a touchdown and two interceptions.
Vawter threw for 104 yards and ran for 46.
The Washington defense did not allow the J-Hawks beyond their own 35 during the last-gasp drive.
“We just talked about fighting,” Blue said. “We have to play 48 minutes. If we would have played 47 minutes and 30 seconds, we would not have won this game.”
Jefferson visits Waterloo West next Friday, while the Warriors will tussle with eighth-ranked Cedar Falls in their first game away from Kingston Stadium, where the Tigers were victorious last season when Washington was ranked third in the state.
“We can’t make the little mistakes,” Blue said. “They’re good. They’re very good.”
AT KINGSTON STADIUM
Cedar Rapids Washington 21, Cedar Rapids Jefferson 18
C.R. Washington 0-0-14-7—21
C.R. Jefferson 0-0-12-6—18
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CRJ — Mitchell Hall 70 interception return (kick blocked)
CRW — Haven Henningsen 1 run (Andrew Hammer kick)
CRJ — Kyler Bell 80 pass from Noah Vawter (run failed)
CRW — Cade Saylor 5 pass from Bryan Kunde (Andrew Hammer kick)
CRJ — Ezeki Leggins 17 pass from Noah Vawter (pass failed)
CRW — Seth Semrau 2 run (Andrew Hammer kick)
RUSHING — C.R. Washington: Haven Henningsen 35-185, Lincoln Riley 1-(-17), Seth Semrau 2-3, Bryan Kunde 4-(-21); C.R. Jefferson: James Baugh 3-3, Henry Garsayne 12-45, Joshua Furrow 4-10, Noah Vawter 9-46, Jacob Thompson 2-1, Kyler Bell 2-1.
PASSING — C.R. Washington: Bryan Kunde 11-28-2-101; C.R. Jefferson: Noah Vawter 6-13-0-104.
RECEIVING — C.R. Washington: Lincoln Riley 1-8, Keiyon Smith-Allen 2-23, Ross Snitker 1-14, Brooklyn Butler 1-(-1), Joshua Cacabit 1-10, Cade Saylor 2-15; C.R. Jefferson: Kyler Bell 3-97, Joshua Furrow 1-4, Mitchell Hall 1-8, Ezeki Leggins 2-12.
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