116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — The Johnston Dragons were playing for their playoff lives.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy, it was — and is — playing for something more.
“Home, home, Dome, Dome,” Coach Brian White said.
It remains very much in play.
Carson Blietz passed for 321 yards, and the top-ranked Cougars fought through some self-proclaimed first-half lethargy and sidestepped Johnston’s upset bid, 24-10, Friday night at Kingston Stadium.
The Cougars (8-0) rallied from a 7-0 halftime deficit behind Blietz, who completed 25 of 34 passes. He was at his best in the third quarter, when he rang up 196 yards.
“We just needed to focus on our assignments,” Blietz said. “We had to focus on our jobs. I think our offensive line wore them down at the end of the game, and we had our Big Muscle Man that made a big play.
Big Muscle Man is fullback Alex Koch, whose 1-yard touchdown plunge clinched victory with 1:27 left.
“We had some trouble in the first half, but when we needed it, we kept playing,” Koch said.
Koch set up the clinching touchdown with a 58-yard sprint. He got ran down at the shadow of the goal line.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I’m thankful the coaches gave it to me again.”
Blietz overcame a first-half lost fumble when the Cougars were driving on their first possession of the game. He spread the ball around, connecting with seven different receivers.
“We were really working the short and underneath passing game, and we took our shots when we had the opportunities,” he said.
Kennedy scored on its first drive of the second half on a 10-play, 80-yard drive, with Blietz hitting Brenden Linde for a 9-yard TD and a 7-7 tie.
Johnston (3-5) went three and out, then Kennedy marched again and took the lead on Luke Bradley’s 31-yard field goal.
Jeron Senters’ 36-yard catch-and-run made it 17-7. Then, with Kennedy leading 17-10 late in the fourth quarter, Bradley converted a fake punt into a first down, and Koch supplied the dagger.
Kennedy closes its regular season next week at Dubuque Hempstead. A win means 9-0, and the likelihood of two home games.
Or, as White mentioned, the possibility of home, home, Dome, Dome.
Both teams had one quality drive in the first half. Kennedy’s march ended in a turnover; Johnston’s concluded with a touchdown.
Kennedy marched from its own 33 into the red zone on its first possession of the game. But the five-minute journey ended when the Dragons forced a fumble by Blietz, and recovered at their own 14.
Special teams flipped the field on the next two possessions, then the Dragons marched 67 yards in 11 plays.
On fourth-and-3 from the Kennedy 28, Mason Cornwell got loose for 25 yards, setting up first and goal.
Johnston needed all four plays to punch it in. On fourth and a foot, Adrian Broadus snuck it in, crossing the goal line by about 6 inches.
The Dragons led 7-0 at halftime despite a 134-92 yardage advantage for the Cougars.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy 24, Johnston 10
AT KINGSTON STADIUM
First downs: JOHN 10, CRK 22
Rushes-yards: JOHN 23-54, CRK 38-165
Passing yards: JOHN 145, CRK 321
Passing: JOHN 13-28-1, CRK 25-34-1
Total yards: JOHN 199, CRK 486
Fumbles-lost: JOHN 0-0, CRK 1-1
Punts-average: JOHN 6-41.5, CRK 2-24.0
Penalties-yards: JOHN 5-54, CRK 7-64
Johnston 0 7 0 3 — 10
C.R. Kennedy 0 0 10 14 — 24
JOHN — Adrian Broadus 1 run (Carson Hanson kick)
CRK — Brenden Linde 9 pass from Carson Blietz (Luke Bradley kick)
CRK — FG Bradley 31
CRK — Jeron Senters 36 pass from Blietz (Bradley kick)
JOHN — FG Hanson 36
CRK — Alex Koch 1 run (Bradley kick)
Johnston — Mason Cornwell 12-54, Adrian Broadus 9-11, Cade Godwin 1-1, Wilmont Manneh 1-(minus 12). Kennedy — Alex Koch 5-67, Jazan Williams 24-59, Carson Blietz 5-24, Jeron Senters 1-9, Luke Bradley 1-7, Colin Flannagan 1-(minus 1).
Johnston — Broadus 13-28-1-145. Kennedy — Blietz 25-34-1-321.
Johnston — Cornwell 6-48, Tatum Fox 3-29, Jacob Simpson 2-22, Rex Woodley 1-34, Taylen Proctor 1-2. Kennedy — Senters 6-93, Hayden Klett 6-73, Brenden Linde 4-75, Isaiah Morgan 4-48, C.J. Coker 3-23, Williams 1-9, Michael Mulherin 1-0.