Prep Football

Cedar Rapids Kennedy hangs on to beat Prairie in season-opening OT thriller

Cougars rally from 20-7 halftime deficit to win 35-34

CEDAR RAPIDS — Certainly wild. A bit controversial.

Definitely entertaining.

The ebb and flow of a crazy game between Cedar Rapids Prairie and Cedar Rapids Kennedy ended in a couple confusing situations in overtime that left the Class 4A sixth-ranked Cougars celebrating and the Hawks scratching their heads.

Kennedy recovered a fumble in the end zone on fourth down and benefited from a missed extra-point attempt for a 35-34 overtime victory in the prep football opener Friday night at John Wall Field.

The Cougars started the extra frame with the ball. On fourth-and-3, the Hawks seemed to stop quarterback Max White short of the goal line, popping the ball free. As Prairie celebrated and started running off the field, the officials deliberated and awarded Kennedy the touchdown. Liam Wahe’s extra-point attempt was good, which proved key.

Prairie stumbled early in its part of the overtime. The Hawks were pushed back and faced fourth-and-16 with the game on the line. The Hawks dialed up some trickery, similar to a game-tying conversion in the final minute of the fourth to force overtime.

A double pitch put the ball in Jake Walter’s hands and he lofted a pass that Gabe Burkle caught in the back of the end zone. The Hawks lined up for the potentially tying kick. One of the Hawks ran onto the field late and seemed to still be in motion during the snap. The kick was ruled no good and the Cougars escaped with a win.

Kennedy eclipsed a 20-7 halftime deficit, reclaiming the advantage up front. The Cougars relied on their powerful run game and tallied three second-half TDs.

Demarcus Ray capped a 78-yard drive with a 16-yard scoring run on Kennedy’s opening drive of the third.

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White followed with two of his four TD runs. His 1-yard QB sneak gave Kennedy its first lead at 21-20 with 2:20 left in the third. He added a bruising 39-yard TD run for a 28-20 lead with 2:16 left in the fourth.

Prairie responded with an impressive 53-yard drive. Dionte Fliss hit Walter for a 10-yard TD pass with 56 seconds left. Walter hit Elijah Ward for the two-point conversion to extend the game.

The Hawks parlayed three first-half Kennedy fumbles into 20 points. After the first miscue, Fliss hit Ward for a 44-yard TD pass to begin the scoring. Nick Pearson turned one into a 5-yard TD run and Maguire Jones returned a fumble 28 yards for a score and the 20-7 lead in the second quarter.

White finished with 231 rushing yards and three scores, including an 85-yard scamper in the first quarter. Ray added 106 yards on the ground for the Cougars.

Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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