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Xavier stymies 2-point conversion, holds off West Delaware 23-21
Saints build 16-point third-quarter lead, then defense saves the day at the end
MANCHESTER — Forty-eight minutes evolved into a one-play game.
Three yards for two points. Strength against strength.
And Cedar Rapids Xavier was stronger.
Class 4A sixth-ranked Xavier held on a two-point conversion attempt with 29 seconds left and held off 3A No. 3 West Delaware, 23-21, in a non-district football game Friday night at Brown Field.
“We just did what the coaches told us to do,” said Xavier’s Michael Cunningham, a linebacker on that fateful play. “We were prepared to do our job.”
Xavier (2-0) built a 23-7 third-quarter lead before West Delaware (1-1) made a frantic comeback bid.
The Hawks got within 23-15 on Kyle Cole’s 4-yard run with 2:24 left in the third period, then drove 80 yards in the final five minutes to give themselves a chance. Conner Funk connected with Cole — the quarterback — on a trick play to make it 23-21.
West Delaware opted for pure muscle on the two-point try, with Cole going up the middle. But the Saints stopped him short.
“The kids were just trying to fill that gap, and do their jobs,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “It’s all just kind of a blur right now.”
Hawks Coach Doug Winkowitch said, “We wanted to run our best play with our best people, but they did a good job playing defense.
“The biggest thing tonight, we wanted to walk off the field knowing we got better, and I feel we did that.”
The Saints held on despite getting outgained by a 307-218 margin. Wyatt Voelker ran for 114 yards, Cole for 105.
Leading 10-7 at halftime, Xavier extended the advantage with a pair of third-quarter TDs. Alex Neal scored on a 1-yard run, then Cunningham got loose for a 21-yarder.
“That’s a really good win over a big, solid football team,” Schulte said. “We’ve got to get better, but the kids are playing hard. We’re getting everything out of them.”
Xavier capitalized on a short field twice for a 10-7 halftime lead.
Three plays into the game, Thomas Sundell stepped in front of a pass and returned it to the West Delaware 14-yard line.
It took six plays, but the Saints finally punched it in on fourth-and-goal from the 2, with Cunningham capping it with a dive up the middle.
The Saints scored the go-ahead field goal after stopping West Delaware inches short on fourth down at the Xavier 40.
Xavier reached the West Delaware 15 before settling for Trysten Vasquez’s 32-yard field goal with 0:30 remaining in the half.
West Delaware sustained a 74-yard drive for its lone score of the half. Voelker got loose for a 23-yard run to the Xavier 2, then Will Ward scored two plays later on a sweep.
Xavier is at Dubuque Wahlert next week; West Delaware hosts Decorah.
Cedar Rapids Xavier 23, West Delaware 21
First downs: CRX 12, WD 19
Rushes-yards: CRX 40-94, WD 53-243
Passing yards: CRX 124, WD 64
Passing: CRX 9-13-0, WD 6-11-2
Total yards: CRX 218, WD 307
Fumbles-lost: CRX 0-0, WD 0-0
Punts-average: CRX 3-45.0, WD 3-33.0
Penalties-yards: CRX 3-25, WD 8-79
C.R. Xavier 7 3 13 0 -- 23
West Delaware 0 7 8 6 -- 21
CRX -- Michael Cunningham 2 run (Trysten Vasquez kick)
WD -- Will Ward 2 run (Raub Loecke kick)
CRX -- FG Vasquez 32
CRX -- Alex Neal 1 run (Vasquez kick)
CRX -- Cunningham 21 run (kick blocked)
WD -- Kyle Cole 4 run (Cole run)
WD -- Cole 15 pass from Conner Funk (run failed)
Xavier -- Michael Cunningham 22-78, Alex Neal 10-16, Aidan McDermott 5-2, Christian Stanek 1-0. West Delaware -- Wyatt Voelker 17-114, Kyle Cole 31-105, Conner Funk 3-19, Will Ward 2-5.
Xavier -- Neal 9-13-0-124. West Delaware -- Cole 5-10-2-49, Funk 1-1-0-15.
Xavier -- McDermott 5-41, Trysten Vasquez 3-60, Stanek 1-23. West Delaware -- Ward 4-37, Cole 1-15, Funk 1-12.