116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Prairie had its shot for a marquee victory.
Southeast Polk denied it and the upset.
The Class 5A top-ranked Rams blocked a 36-yard field goal attempt with nine seconds left to secure a 21-20 victory over No. 7 Cedar Rapids Prairie in a Class 5A prep football game Friday night at John Wall Field.
The Rams improve to 6-1, while the Hawks drop to 5-2.
“We had our shot,” Prairie Coach Mark Bliss said. “Sometimes we couldn’t get a break. Our kids had a chance. We played hard with them and our kids competed really well.”
There were no moral victories but the Hawks proved they can compete with the top teams in the state.
“We’re better in the fact that there shouldn’t be any doubt that we can compete with some of the best teams in the state because we are one of the best teams in the state,” Prairie quarterback Brandon Vlcko said. “It burns that we lost this game on a lot of little things — miscommunication, penalties here and there and I didn’t play very well. There’s a lot to take away from this game.”
The situation seemed to favor the Hawks. They had found traction with their rush attack, moving the ball downfield the final three quarters and producing scoring drives of 6:11, 4:39 and 3:45.
Down 21-20 after a flea-flicker pass from Jaxon Dailey to Cole Filloon resulted in a 52-yard touchdown in the fourth, Prairie started the final drive at its own 36 with 4:20 remaining.
The Hawks opened with six straight runs, inclduing a 3-yard gain by Vlcko to convert a key fourth-and-1 from the Rams’ 44.
Late in the drive the Hawks had to burn their last timeout and burn a down to spike the ball when a receiver failed to get out of bounds.
Southeast Polk used a timeout to set up the final play that was immediately blocked by Xavier Nwankpa and sent the Rams, coaches and fans into a frenzy.
“This little stumble is not going to end our journey,” Bliss said. “We’ll keep focusing on what we have to do to get better and move on. We will let them understand that Iowa City West and Linn-Mar are the two most important games left on our schedule.”
Southeast Polk was explosive early. The Rams scored on their first two possessions. The first was set up by a blocked punt, giving the Rams the ball at Prairie’s 40. Abu Sama produced gains of 9 and 31, with the latter reaching the end zone and providing a 7-0 lead.
The Rams went to the air for the next score. Dailey hit Filloon for a 40-yard pass to make it 14-0 with 1:15 left in the first quarter.
Dailey passed for 180 yards, including 136 to Filloon. Sama finished with 143 yards rushing.
Braxton Martin helped swing things in the Hawks’ favor, intercepting Dailey at the goal line on the next Rams drive.
Prairie went 62 yards on 12 plays, finishing with a Vlcko 2-yard run.
It was the first of three Hawks TDs that gave them a 20-14 lead with 6:17 left after the point-after attempt was missed. Taylor scored on second-half TD runs of 1 and 18 yards.
Taylor tallied 140 total yards, including 128 rushing.
The Hawks also had a shot to take a two-score lead when Vlcko’s backward pass to Walter and Walter’s throw downfield was dropped in the end zone.
Prairie drove down to the Rams’ 19, but the field goal was blocked. Southeast Polk knelt out the last five seconds to win.
“I’m just proud of their effort tonight,” Bliss said. “It stinks that we came up short.”