116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — It took some time, but eventually the ground game prevailed for Cedar Rapids Prairie.
The Hawks found themselves trailing 20-13 three plays into the second half of Friday night's game with Dubuque Senior at John Wall Field. The dynamic Rams duo of Jack Simon and Walker Tart had just connected for their third scoring pass of the night.
“We just went into the locker room at halftime and cleaned up some key mistakes,” said Prairie senior running back Makelle Taylor. “Once we did that, we were able to shut them out the rest of the way.”
And it didn't hurt that Taylor and his offensive backfield mates were on their games. The Hawks scored the final four touchdowns of the contest en route to a 40-20 victory.
Prairie's creative running attack unofficially racked up 395 yards on 43 carries.
“I'm glad we finally got one,” said an elated Prairie Coach Mark Bliss after his team evened its record at 1-1. “I think in the end we finally wore them down a little bit. Down the stretch we kinda knew how they were lining up against us and we were fortunate enough to take advantage of that.”
Taylor struggled to gain yards in the Hawks’ 37-6 loss in the season opener at Pleasant Valley, getting just 54 against a stingy Spartans defense. He rebounded with 161 yards on 29 carries and two scores, one coming on a 15-yard pass from quarterback Cal Sullivan.
“I felt like I had a pretty good night,” he said. “I still have some things to fix up, but this was much better than last week.
“Our energy was so much better tonight. Our team just came together as one.”
Senior's energy was high as well early on. The Rams relied on big plays from Simon and Tart to keep the game close into the fourth quarter. The first of their three scoring passes was from 3 yards out. The second two saw Tart use his speed to simply outrun Prairie defenders to score on tosses of 50 and 40 yards.
The final TD gave Senior (1-1) a lead that lasted just one play.
On Prairie's first play after the kickoff, junior Casey Kelley took the ball on an inside handoff and went untouched 80 yards to give Prairie back the lead for good.
Sullivan was brilliant, especially in the second half. He scored three times on runs of 3, 10 and 8 yards to go along with his TD pass to Taylor. The senior finished with 113 yards on 15 carries. He also completed 4 of 6 passes for 83 yards.
Kelley just missed joining his teammates passing the century mark on the ground, finishing with 97 yards on four carries.
On defense, Jack Wagemester had two interceptions in the second half.
“We knew (Senior) was a big-play team,” Bliss said. “They showed that in their win over Hempstead. Our plan was to chew up some clock and keep their offense off the field and it worked pretty well.”