116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — A 22-point cushion had melted to a mere two points.
Cedar Rapids Prairie needed to re-establish a line of scrimmage it had dominated so much early. It needed a productive drive.
The Hawks got it.
Class 5A sixth-ranked Prairie embarked on a 16-play scoring drive, eating 7 1/2 minutes and getting the Hawks out of danger. Prairie topped No. 9 Linn-Mar, 36-20, Friday night at Linn-Mar Stadium.
“When we’re on, we’re fun to watch,” Prairie Coach Mark Bliss said. “When we’re off, we’re ugly.”
The Hawks (7-2) were a little of both Friday, but the good outweighed the bad. And as a result, Prairie is assured of a top-four seed (via RPI) for the playoffs, which means the possibility of two home games.
“We want to be in the Dome,” Bliss said. “That’s something we’ve had our eyes on since August.”
Prairie made it look easy early, scoring on its first three possession and soaring to a 22-0 lead. The Hawks went on 14-play and 15-play scoring marches that went for 80 and 96 yards, then capitalized on a blocked punt, with Brandon Vlcko connecting with Elijah Ward for a 30-yard touchdown on fourth-and-21.
But Linn-Mar (7-2) scored a touchdown at the end of the first half to close within 22-7, then struck twice quickly in the third quarter to make it 22-20.
A reverse pass from Jack Robertson to Cam Guenther went for 39 yards a a touchdown. Then, after the kickoff caromed off the Hawks’ front line and into the Lions’ possession, Carter Henderson’s 12-yard TD run got the Lions within two. The conversion attempt failed.
It was still 22-20 when the Hawks took possession at their own 24 with 11:47 left in the game.
The key play in the drive was a 23-yard pass from Vlcko to Ward on second-and-21 from the Linn-Mar 49. Vlcko capped it with a 3-yard scoring run.
“It all comes down to the little things,” Vlcko said. “We had some drives here and there, but we made some mistakes, too, on both sides of the ball.
“But we got a big drive there, and we beat a good Linn-Mar team.”
Vlcko ran for 108 yards and passed for 113.
Cedar Rapids Prairie 36, Linn-Mar 20
AT LINN-MAR STADIUM
First downs: CRP 26, LM 15
Rushes-yards: CRP 57-277, LM 15-46
Passing yards: CRP 113, LM 218
Passing: CRP 9-16-1, LM 15-22-2
Total yards: CRP 390, LM 264
Fumbles-lost: CRP 0-0, LM 0-0
Punts-average: CRP 1-43.0, LM 4-32.8
Penalties-yards: CRP 8-84, LM 6-60
C.R. Prairie 7 15 0 14 -- 36
Linn-Mar 0 7 13 0 -- 20
CRP -- Jake Walter 6 run (Sawyer Slezak kick)
CRP -- Makelle Taylor 9 run (Dylan Beck pass from Brandon Vlcko)
CRP -- Elijah Ward 30 pass from Vlcko (Slezak kick)
LM -- Jack Robertson 10 pass from McKade Jelinek (Micah Baumhoefener kick)
LM -- Cam Guenther 39 pass from Jack Robertson (Baumhoefener kick)
LM -- Carter Henderson 12 run (run failed)
CRP -- Vlcko 3 run (Slezak kick)
CRP -- Vlcko 22 run (Slezak kick)
Prairie -- Brandon Vlcko 17-108, Makelle Taylor 23-95, Jake Walter 16-75. Linn-Mar -- Carter Henderson 13-58, Clayton Muszinski 1-2, McKade Jelinek 1-(minus 14).
Prairie -- Vlcko 9-16-1-113. Linn-Mar -- Jelinek 14-20-2-179, Jack Robertson 1-1-0-39.
Prairie -- Walter 5-44, Elijah Ward 3-64, Gabe Burkle 1-5. Linn-Mar -- Cam Guenther 6-114, Robertson 5-53, Keaton Roskop 2-26, Henderson 1-14, Hayden Thoms 1-13.