116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It won’t completely erase the sting of last week’s heartbreaking setback.
But it will definitely help.
Cedar Rapids Prairie powered past perennial power Bettendorf, 54-20, on Friday night for a decisive homecoming football victory at John Wall Field.
It was a much-needed bounceback win for the Hawks following a crushing last-second home loss to Cedar Falls the previous week.
Following the defeat, Prairie Coach Mark Bliss said “we are going to find out what we are made of.”
Bliss received an emphatic answer as his Hawks came back to turn in a dominant performance. The 54 points was the most scored against the Bulldogs in program history. The previous high was 52, set in 1952.
“Absolutely, our kids showed us what they were made of,” Bliss said. “These players did a great job regrouping after an emotional loss last week. It’s a testament to our seniors and their leadership. They helped us refocus and get ready for a good Bettendorf team. We faced a well-coached team and this was a good win for us against them.”
Junior Makelle Taylor led the Hawks with 162 rushing yards on 15 carries.
Prairie (3-1) bolted to a 21-0 halftime lead against Bettendorf (1-3).
Prairie struck for two early touchdowns to take command.
The Hawks methodically drove 80 yards on the game’s opening possession with senior quarterback Brandon Vlcko capping the march with a 1-yard TD run.
Prairie expanded its cushion to 14-0 when Taylor found an opening, and the end zone, on a 5-yard run early in the second quarter.
The Hawks capitalized on a costly Bettendorf turnover, on a fumbled punt return inside the Bulldog 10, to score again just before the break.
Vicko bulled into the end zone on a 1-yard plunge to make it 21-0 with just eight seconds left in the first half.
“We did a really good job regrouping and brought even more fire this week,” Vicko said. “We were frustrated after that loss, but we just used it as fuel to motivate us. We did a great job preparing for this game.”
Taylor broke loose on a 59-yard TD scamper on Prairie’s opening drive of the third quarter to make it 27-0.
“It all starts with our line,” Vicko said. “They’ve done a really good job up front, moving the defensive line and protecting us. It allows us a lot of opportunities. We have a lot of skill and depth and we can make big plays like we showed in this game.”
The Hawks added another 80-yard scoring drive late in the third quarter, capped by Jake Walter’s 2-yard TD run.
Vlcko then delivered a perfect 40-yard scoring pass to Elijah Ward to widen the lead to 40-13 early in the final quarter. Taylor sprinted 43 yards for a TD on the next Prairie possession.
“There is a lot of parity in our class and it’s pretty wide-open right now,” Bliss said. “Our kids are very ecstatic with where they are at and they know the most important game on our schedule is Ottumwa next week. That’s where our focus is going to be.”
Bettendorf quarterback Christian Kautz passed for two scores and ran for one.