MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
Now is the time to turn up the defense.
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CEDAR RAPIDS — This time, the Cedar Rapids Titans rose up when the lights were on and the moment was large.
A string of late-game plays, including a touchdown run with less than a minute to go by tailback Jamuel Jones, gave Cedar Rapids its first victory of the season April 1 at Green Bay and provided a much-needed confidence boost throughout the roster.
“It was big, especially for tomorrow’s game and momentum,” said Jones, who will help the Titans (1-5) tangle with the Sioux Falls Storm (5-0) in an Indoor Football League game Saturday at 7:05 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Center. “Big win. Happy we got it.”
Last week, Cedar Rapids appeared destined for a sixth-straight loss to begin the season when the host Blizzard held a double-digit lead midway through the second quarter. Cedar Rapids quarterback Brion Carnes started the rally with a touchdown run and two scoring tosses.
With 1:22 to go in the game and the Titans trailing 37-33 with no timeouts, Jones fielded a swing pass from Carnes at the 24-yard line, cut inside, juked a defender to the ground at the 22, sprinted along the left wall and made a second defender miss with another cut at the eight before being tackled at the two.
“I’m an elusive guy, more of a finesse back,” said the 5-foot-9, 195-pound rookie from Kentucky Christian. “I make the plays when I need to and I’m good at making defenders miss in the open field.”
Jones’ number was called again on the next play, and his offensive line opened a cavernous hole that invited a two-yard TD and a 39-37 Titans’ lead. With long snapper Conner Hollenbeck ejected from the game, first-year Coach Marvin McNutt elected to try a two-point conversion, and Jones again converted.
“I made a mistake in the game earlier and I was thinking about it the whole time,” Jones said. “So I was thinking, ‘I’ve got to make up for that one.’ Made up for it, and we ended up pulling it out.”
A stout goal-line stand from the Cedar Rapids defense saved the game. A scramble by Green Bay quarterback Matt Behrendt gave the Blizzard 1st and goal from the 1-yard-line with 30 seconds left, but a stop behind the line of scrimmage by Cedar Rapids linebacker Curtis Thomas and three incomplete passes gave the Titans their first victory.
“It was a great confidence-booster for us,” Thomas said. “We love that. Our backs were against the wall … For us to make a stand like that, a goal-line stand, and come out with the victory, that did a lot for us going into tomorrow.”
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