CEDAR RAPIDS — Brian White spent the early stages of the game out-thinking himself, then kicking himself.
At halftime, though, he was calm, collected and composed.
“There was no yelling,” said the football coach at Cedar Rapids Kennedy. “We just made our adjustments and said we were going to win if we had belief.”
“Just a bunch of reflection,” Cade Parker confirmed. “We were beating ourselves in the first half.”
Class 4A seventh-ranked Kennedy set the tone for the remainder of the game with a 13-play touchdown drive, Cairron Hendred got loose for two long touchdown runs late, and Kennedy rallied from a pair of 14-point deficits to topple Cedar Rapids Prairie, 35-28, in a non-district battle Friday night at John Wall Field.
“That just shows what we can do,” said Hendred, who sprung away for scoring runs of 59 and 69 yards and finished with 215 yards (188 in the second half) on 17 carries. “We had some adversity, but we played all four quarters.”
Kennedy (3-1) overcame deficits of 14-0 and 21-7. The key stretch came right after intermission, when the Cougars journeyed 78 yards in 13 plays in a march that lasted 6 1/2 minutes and ended on Parker’s 4-yard TD run that got the Cougars within 21-14.
“We were starting to get chunks of yards,” White said.
The bigger chunks came later.
Prairie (2-2) punted on its next possession, then Kennedy struck again on Max White’s 55-yard sweep around left end. That knotted the game at 21-21 with 11:17 left in the game.
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The Hawks regained the lead on Nick Pearson’s 35-yard touchdown run with 8:16 to go. Then the rest of the game belonged to Hendred.
Twice, he got away from the first level of defense. Twice, he was gone.
Who can catch him in the open field?
“Not too may guys,” he said.
Hendred’s last touchdown gave the Cougars their first lead with 2:51 to go. Prairie fumbled it away on the following possession, and Kennedy ran out the clock.
Kennedy compiled 303 second-half yards and outgained the Hawks, 449-381.
Prairie stung the Cougars with a pair of big passes in its first two possessions for a quick 14-0 lead.
The Hawks abandoned their single-wing attack for a more traditional package to start, and quarterback Hunter Williams hit Johnny Joens in stride for a 72-yard gain on the second play.
Tariq Amir followed with a 2-yard touchdown to put Prairie on the board.
Prairie stopped Kennedy on the Cougars’ first series, and a bad snap in punt formation allowed the Hawks to start at the Kennedy 48.
The Hawks went back to the single wing, and after two runs did little, Williams connected Gabriel Burkle for a 46-yard TD.
“I put (Parker) back at free safety to take away their single wing, but they hit a couple of slants for touchdowns,” Coach White said. “That’s on me.”
Pearson ran for 137 yards for the Hawks.
Kennedy opens district play next week at Davenport West; Prairie is at Dubuque Senior.
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