116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
It was a grind, but the Hawks are moving on. Class 5A No. 4 Cedar Rapids Prairie found the going much tougher than what they remembered from Week 4, but did enough to beat Bettendorf, 24-6, in a first-round playoff game Friday night at John Wall Field.
“They came out with some different looks than they showed us in week 4,” Prairie Coach Mark Bliss said. “I call it a junk defense. Basically they came out and played something completely different than they played us the first time. It took us three or four series to figure out what they were doing.”
The Bulldogs (5-5) defense has been impressive this season aside from one performance. Prairie (8-2) put up over 600 yards of offense in a 54-20 win over Bettendorf in Week 4. Minus that game, Bettendorf gave up an average of 11 points during the regular season.
It took the Hawks 23:03 of game clock to find the scoreboard.
“It’s hard to beat a team twice,” Prairie quarterback Brandon Vlcko said. “It’s especially hard to end a team’s season.”
Prairie converted a third-and-7 and third-and-8 on its opening possession, but failed to convert on fourth-and-7 in the red zone.
Taking over on the Bettendorf 40 for their second possession, the Hawks failed to convert on fourth down once again.
Not known for their offense, the Bulldogs gave Prairie ample time to find their footing. Late in the first half, they did.
Facing third-and-25 at their own 35, Vlcko found Markelle Taylor for 23 yards. This time, on fourth down, the Hawks converted as Vlcko picked up 5 yards.
A pair of intermediate passes to Elijah Ward put Prairie in range. On first-and-goal, Vlcko scanned the field. Finding no one open, Vlcko tucked it away and scored from 10 yards out as Prairie took a 7-0 lead with :57 left before halftime.
The Hawks outgained Bettendorf 177 yards to 3 in the first half as the Bulldogs failed to pick up a first down. Prairie ran 35 plays to Bettendorf’s 11.
In the second half it became increasingly apparent that the Bulldogs weren’t going to find the scoreboard with their offense.
But late in the third quarter, Bettendorf got its break. Cameron Figgs jumped in front of a Vlcko pass and took it 27 yards the other way for a pick-6. The extra point was blocked and Prairie led just 7-6 with 3:01 to play in the third.
Vlcko and the offensive line responded. On the ensuing possession, Vlcko took off for the biggest gain of the night, 34 yards, to the Bettendorf 30. On third-and-6 from the Bettendorf 9, Vlcko picked up 8 more. He scored on a keeper from a yard out.
“I wouldn’t say that’s just on me,” Vlcko said. “We’re pretty versatile. We can spread the field out. We kind of take what they’re giving us and right there they were giving us the ground game.”
“The biggest thing about it, I think they were more disappointed in themselves,” Bliss said of his offensive unit. “We didn’t finish off a couple of drives when we got inside the 20. I think it was a gut check for those kids and they found a way.”
Since Taylor, Prairie's leading rusher, was bottled up, Vlcko continued to run. He picked up 128 yards on 26 carries. The final nail came as the Bulldogs anticipated another Vlcko rush. Ward got loose behind the secondary and Vlcko found him for a 39-yard touchdown.
Bettendorf finished with 90 yards of offense. Prairie advances to host Ankeny next Friday.
Bettendorf 0 0 6 0 — 6
Cedar Rapids Prairie 0 7 0 17 — 24
CRP – Brandon Vlcko 10 run (Sawyer Slezak kick).
B – Cameron Figgs 27 Int Return (kick blocked).
CRP – Vlcko 1 run (Slezak kick).
CRP – Slezak 38 FG.
CRP – Elijah Ward 39 pass from Vlcko (Slezak kick).
First Downs 6, 17
Rushes-Yards 20-33, 50-208
Comp-Att-Int 4-17-1, 11-14-1
Pass Yards 57, 133
Total Yards 89, 341
Fumbles-Lost 2-1, 0-0
Penalties-Yards 1-5, 6-48
Punts-Avg 5-37.0, 2-19.0
Rushing – Bettendorf: Isaiah Martinez 6-19, Christian Kautz 6-1, Terry Dunn III 5-12, Cameron Figgs 1-minus-13, Connor Giesecke 1-5, Tynan Numkena 1-9. Prairie: Markelle Taylor 14-38, Brandon Vlcko 26-128, Jake Walter 9-42, Trey Peterson 1-4.
Passing – Bettendorf: Kautz 3-15-36-1, Numkena 1-2-21-0. Prairie: Vlcko 11-14-133-1.
Receiving – Bettendorf: Numkena 3-36, Kautz 1-21. Prairie: Taylor 3-32, Elijah Ward 4-74, Walter 1-8, Gabe Burkle 2-20.