116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
TIFFIN — A wild finish to the first half masked what was largely a competitive game for large chunks of the night.
A costly 5-yard flag allowed Class 4A third-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier to blow the door open, as it ran away from Clear Creek Amana, 49-0, Friday night.
The Saints (7-0, 3-0 4A District 4) got off to a hot start, scoring twice in the first six minutes to take a quick 14-0 lead. After batting down a fourth-and-goal pass to prevent a third Xavier score, the Clippers defense responded, not allowing a first down for nearly a quarter and a half.
The Clippers’ back seven continuously got their pads low to bring down big Xavier back Michael Cunningham for short gains.
“We just had to make a couple of adjustments and stay to our assignments,” Clear Creek Amana defensive back Reece Hoffman said. “Our run stop started doing pretty well.”
With 35 seconds left in the first half, Clear Creek Amana (3-4, 1-2) found itself hanging around with Xavier lined up to punt. With the Clippers set to receive the second-half kickoff and momentum on their side, spirits were high.
The good vibes quickly evaporated.
A running into the kicker penalty gave the Saints a first down and new life at midfield. After an incompletion, Ronan Thomas threw downfield to Aidan McDermott, who hauled it in for a 50-yard catch and run for a touchdown. Further compounding the Clippers’ problems was a roughing-the-passer penalty on the play, putting the ensuing kickoff at the Clear Creek Amana 45.
With the short field, the Saints opted for an onside kick, which they promptly recovered. With 18 seconds left and the ball at the 30, Thomas hit McDermott for 15 and Grayson Hartman for 14 more. Xavier took a timeout with four seconds left and the ball at the 1. Thomas sneaked it in.
The Clippers’ hard work had been undone as the Saints left the field with a 28-0 lead going into the break.
A difficult task for the Clippers became impossible.
“I think the dimensions of the game changed a little bit when we went for it on fourth-and-goal,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “We had a wide-open guy and we just didn’t complete it. Credit to our guys. They stuck with it.”
To add salt to the wound, Xavier went three-and-out on its first second-half possession. A second running into the kicker flag moved the chains. A 34-yard pass to Carlos Baez-Perez and an 11-yard quick toss to McDermott put the Saints into the end zone again
On the other side of the ball, the Saints entered the night having given up 28 points all season. Xavier lived up to its stingy billing. The Clippers recorded just 60 first-half yards. They found the going just as difficult in the second half. Clear Creek Amana ran one play on the Saints’ end of the field.
“They’re working hard,” Schulte said of the defense. “They’ve been working hard all year. They do the things that we try to preach at Xavier, which is be out for other sports, get in the weight room all year, and listen to your coaches.
“That’s what they’ve been doing.”