116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The opening drive was indicative of the entire game.
Cedar Rapids Prairie marched down the field with relative ease, covering 85 yards in 10 plays. The Hawks capped the possession with a touchdown run.
No. 7 Prairie’s punishing style racked up 362 rushing yards, including 180 from Makelle Taylor, and 28 first downs as the Hawks rolled over Waterloo West, 45-14, in a Class 5A high school football game Friday night at John Wall Field. Taylor finished with three of the Hawks’ five touchdowns on the ground.
Ground and pound was part of the game plan, according to Taylor.
“Shout out to my line,” Taylor said. “They had blocks and allowed me to use my vision, break tackles and see the end zone.”
Taylor started the game with gains of 5 and 8 yards. He also reeled in three passes from quarterback Cal Sullivan for 29 yards on that series. He was actually out in front and doing the blocking for Casey Kelley on a weaving 25-yard TD run to put the Hawks up 7-0 with 8:14 left in the first.
After a fumble deep in West territory on the second drive, Taylor found the end zone on a 1-yard plunge to close an 80-yard drive that lasted 13 plays and doubled the lead midway through the second quarter.
Taylor amassed 212 total offensive yards, giving him about 948 this season. He also bumped his TD total to 13.
“He’s been that way consistently all season long,” Prairie Coach Mark Bliss said. “Honestly, we’re fortunate enough we can throw the ball and run. Without rubbing it in or making it look bad, there are things we like to do, creating rhythm as we go, offensively. Down the stretch, we knew we had the game in hand, so we focused more on the run.”
Prairie pounced on three West turnovers to pull away. The first came near the end of the first half. West forced a punt in the waning moments of the second quarter, but fumbled it at its 10. The Hawks recovered and Sullivan hit Kelley for a 5-yard pass on the next play and 21-0 lead 11 seconds before the break. Sullivan finished with 125 passing yards.
“That is crucial,” Bliss said. “Anytime you’re playing good football and you can capitalize on turnovers that’s a good thing. We were able to do that. We had short fields at least twice.”
The second half included two more key fumbles. One on the first possession of the third that Prairie recovered at the 19. Taylor rushed twice, including a 6-yard score and 28-0 advantage. Nic Powell snatched a West fumble later in the quarter, giving Prairie another short field that led to a Sullivan 2-yard TD run.
“The second half we tried to get a little more energy going,” said Taylor, who added a 31-yard TD run. “Our defense came in and shut them down, giving our offense short yardage to score.”
West answered with a 63-yard Cavelle Fay dash with 10:07 left in the third. Alex Willis added a 10-yard TD run with 3:20 left to play. Fay finished with 85 rushing yards and Depree Banks had 90 total yards, including 74 rushing, for West.
The teams are going in different directions. West (1-5) has lost five straight. Prairie (5-1) has won five in a row, heading into next week’s showdown at No. 4 Southeast Polk (5-1).
“We’re getting confidence in each other,” Taylor said. “We’re playing as one team.
“We’re all excited. This is our most exciting game of the year. We’re all locked in right now.”