Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Jefferson earns first win of the football season in 21-19 upset of Waterloo West

Junior tailback Jake Thompson runs for 174 yards and 2 scores for J-Hawks

CEDAR RAPIDS — Early on, it looked like another long night was ahead for the Cedar Rapids Jefferson defense.

The J-Hawks had allowed an average of over 40 points per game during an 0-4 start to the prep football season. On the second play from scrimmage Thursday night at Kingston Stadium, Waterloo West junior tailback Isaac Tolbert sprinted 78 yards for a touchdown.

Here they go again? Not this time.

Jefferson junior tailback Jake Thompson ran for 174 yards and two touchdowns, while the J-Hawks limited the Wahawks to just eight first downs and forced a late turnover that sealed a 21-19 Jefferson victory in a Class 4A District 3 opener.

“It says a lot about our kids,” first-year Jefferson Coach Chris Buesing said. “I just told them I’m so proud of them. … We’re 0-4 and then you come out here on homecoming and the first play is that? We just kept playing. I’m so proud of them.”

The victory is the first this season for Jefferson (1-4, 1-0 District 3) and the first for Buesing as a head coach. Before this season, Buesing was the Jefferson defensive coordinator for six seasons and it was that unit that made a quick recovery from the initial touchdown blast. The J-Hawks held Waterloo West to just two first downs and 42 total yards without a point over the next four possessions of the first half.

On offense, Jefferson unleashed a bruising option attack led by Thompson and junior quarterback Jacob Coyle. The J-Hawks responded to the opening Waterloo West TD with a 12-play drive that reached as deep as the Wahawks 2-yard-line. Even though the drive ended without points due to a missed field goal, the Jefferson defense had a chance to regroup and the offense knew it had a scheme that could last the duration of the contest.

“Just being able to respond, getting punched in the mouth early, we talk about that,” Coyle said. “Responding. It’s one play. It’s a big start to the game, but for our guys to come out, offensive line going full speed, we’ve got guys running behind them. … We’ve got guys that want to make plays and they’re making them.”

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The J-Hawks tied the game at 7-7 with less than a minute remaining in the first half on the first of two 3-yard TD plunges by Thompson, which capped a 12-play, 84-yard drive. Thompson had 83 yards by halftime through 15 rush attempts.

“The big drive, we took it all the way down the field and scored on them,” Thompson said. “7-7. Now we just had to play our game and play how we play.”

Jefferson began the second half with the ball and took immediate advantage when Coyle lofted a pass down the left sideline that senior receiver Jackson Snyder leaped for, tipped away from the defender, corralled and raced 75 yards for a TD and a 14-7 J-Hawks lead less than a minute into the second half.

Coyle ran for 51 yards through 17 rush attempts and finished the game a perfect 7-of-7 passing for 146 yards without a turnover.

“Guys staying motivated,” Coyle said. “We had miscommunications in the option game early in the season. Kind of a slow start. Big plays here and there, but not much consistency. We had guys in the classroom all week long, writing up plays on the board, getting coached up, players helping up at practice. Things are meshing up nice. We’ve got guys coming together.”

With 5:57 left in the third quarter, Waterloo West (3-2, 0-1) appeared to be on the verge of punting the ball back to Jefferson, but junior quarterback Carter Maske threw a 67-yard TD pass to senior tailback Zeph Toe on 3rd and 34. The extra point sailed wide, which allowed Jefferson to remain in the lead at 14-13.

The J-Hawks returned to the ground game and churned out a 14-play, 74-yard drive that ended with the second Thompson score that extended their lead to 21-13 with 11:00 left in the game.

“We run a triple option so I’m reading that end,” Coyle said. “If he crashes, I’ll pull it but they’re leaving it for Jake so why not give it every time? They can’t catch him on the inside and he’s going to make yards after contact every time.”

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Waterloo West threatened to tie the game midway through the fourth quarter when Maske found senior receiver Amel Saric in the end zone for a 5-yard score on 3rd and goal, but a 2-point conversion attempt failed and the J-Hawks held a 21-19 advantage.

Jefferson drove the ball to midfield and punted the ball back to Waterloo West with just over three minutes remaining in the contest. After a Wahawks penalty pushed them back to their 7-yard-line, Maske was intercepted by Jefferson senior defensive back Kyran Ligon along the left sideline to seal the victory.

“I saw the QB was going back to pass,” Ligon said. “I just did what my coaches taught me to do.”

Waterloo West receiver Tanner Pollock posted 247 receiving yards through the first four games of the season, but managed just four catches for 7 yards against Ligon and the J-Hawks. Tolbert finished with 11 carries for 106 yards for the Wahawks, who host Dubuque Senior on Sept. 28.

Jefferson senior receiver Dymonte Hawkins tallied 46 receiving yards with four catches, three of which kept J-Hawk offensive drives alive with first downs.

The J-Hawks face undefeated and third-ranked Cedar Falls next Friday at the UNI-Dome.

“We all know how it feels now to win a game,” Thompson said. “Now we can build off that. We all know that we’ve got to keep up practice. It’s not just over now. We’ve got to keep it up.”

AT KINGSTON STADIUM

Cedar Rapids Jefferson 21, Waterloo West 19

Waterloo West 7 0 6 6—19

C.R. Jefferson 0 7 7 7—21

WW — Isaac Tolbert 78 run (Armin Kuljuhovic kick)

CRJ — Jacob Thompson 3 run (Jacob Cross kick)

CRJ — Jackson Snyder 75 pass from Jacob Coyle (Jacob Cross kick)

WW — Zeph Toe 67 pass from Carter Maske (kick failed)

CRJ — Jacob Thompson 3 run (Jacob Cross kick)

WW — Amel Saric 5 pass from Carter Maske (pass failed)

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RUSHING — Waterloo West: Isaac Tolbert 11-106, Zeph Toe 8-55, Carter Maske 4-9; C.R. Jefferson: Jacob Thompson 31-174, Demarco Smith 1-(-3), Henry Garsayne 5-4, Jacob Coyle 17-51, Jackson Schreckengast 1-6.

PASSING — Waterloo West: Carter Maske 6-13-1-79; C.R. Jefferson: Jacob Coyle 7-7-0-146.

RECEIVING — Waterloo West: Tanner Pollock 4-7, Amel Saric 1-5, Zeph Toe 1-67; C.R. Jefferson: Dymonte Hawkins 4-46, Jackson Snyder 1-75, Gabe Coyle 1-23, Jacob Thompson 1-2.

l Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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