CEDAR RAPIDS — There has been a lot of talk around the Metro area that the Cedar Rapids Jefferson football team is much improved.
The J-Hawks now have a win to show for it.
Jefferson recovered a pair of second-half fumbles, scored 17 fourth-quarter points and won for the first time since Week 5 of last season, 23-6, over Muscatine in a non-district game Friday night at Kingston Stadium.
“We have got a bunch of veteran guys that have been in the system,” Jefferson Coach Chris Buesing said. “There are some things out there that they did that you can’t coach, just rising up and having the character. Just really proud of them and really happy for them.”
Despite two long Muscatine (0-2) drives in the first quarter, the J-Hawks kept the game scoreless with a pair of fourth-down stops inside their own 20-yard line. The Jefferson defense bent plenty against Muscatine junior tailback Tim Nimely, who ran 24 times for 200 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown in the second quarter that gave the Muskies a 6-3 lead.
Jefferson lost one fumble in each half, but the game remained tied at 6-6 in the final minutes of the third quarter. From that point on, Jefferson made all the plays beginning with the recovery of a muffed punt by sophomore Dkhai Pope. That turnover resulted in a 9-yard TD run by senior tailback Ezeki Leggins on the first play of the fourth quarter that gave the J-Hawks the lead for good.
“Mental toughness is what it comes down to,” Jefferson senior tailback/linebacker Jacob Thompson said. “We have been working harder than anyone else in the state. We just knew that this game was the one that we needed to win, come out and start our season off with.”
Jefferson (1-1) recovered another fumble on the ensuing drive which led to a 10-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Jacob Coyle to his twin brother, Gabe.
Jefferson junior kicker Jacob Cross made field goals of 41, 29 and 38 yards.
The J-Hawks host Linn-Mar on Thursday.
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“You have got to get one early,” Buesing said. “You are working and working and working and you just see that reward and they finally got it. It feels good.”
AT KINGSTON STADIUM
Cedar Rapids Jefferson 23, Muscatine 6
Muscatine 0 6 0 0—6
Cedar Rapids Jefferson 0 6 0 17—23
CRJ — FG Jacob Cross 41
MUS — Tim Nimely 26 run (kick blocked)
CRJ — FG Jacob Cross 29
CRJ — Ezeki Leggins 9 run (Jacob Cross kick)
CRJ — Gabe Coyle 10 pass from Jacob Coyle (Jacob Cross kick)
CRJ — FG Jacob Cross 38
RUSHING — Muscatine: Tim Nimely 24-200, Takpor Tiah 1-2, Mentor Cooper 1-1, Eli Gaye 1-3, Sam Wieskamp 2-7, Zander Morgan 2-8; C.R. Jefferson: Ezeki Leggins 15-72, Jacob Thompson 15-56, Jacob Coyle 5-46, Gabe Coyle 1-2, Dkhai Pope 4-(-6), Ryne Chamberlin 1-3.
PASSING — Muscatine: Sam Wieskamp 11-29-1-97; C.R. Jefferson: Jacob Coyle 7-13-0-60.
RECEIVING — Muscatine: Zach Hardy 1-47, Eli Gaye 6-17, Tim Nimely 3-31, Zach Hardy 1-2; C.R. Jefferson: Jamarre Robinson 2-23, Ashton Schulte 2-19, Ezeki Leggins 1-(-2), Gabe Coyle 2-20.