CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Prairie was thrown for an early loop.
The Hawks offense took the field and Dubuque Senior’s defense didn’t resemble what they prepared against this week in practice. It didn’t take long for them to adjust from that first stalled drive and do what they do best.
Class 4A 10th-ranked Cedar Rapids Prairie scored on five straight possessions, spanning from the first to third quarters and amassed 421 rushing yards in a 42-20 victory over Senior in the District 3 prep football opener Friday night at John Wall Field.
“Our kids found a way to get it done tonight,” Prairie Coach Mark Bliss said. “They made their adjustments and understood their rules. They came off the ball and did some nice things.”
At the forefront of the rush attack was senior Keegan Simmons. He entered the game with 851 rushing yards and nine TDs. He nearly surpassed 1,000 yards this season by halftime, but finished with 227 yards and three touchdowns on the ground, giving him 1,078 and 12 scores this season.
“It’s a really good feeling,” Simmons said. “I have to give it to my line and teammates.”
Bliss said he believes that Simmons is the first Prairie back to accomplish back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. He rushed for 1,822 yards and 25 touchdowns last season and has a shot to surpass both marks.
“Our kids have done a phenomenal job and we have a great supporting cast,” Bliss said. “Keegan knows it as well. He isn’t where he’s at without his teammates.
“He’s going to have a great future, I know that.”
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior powered the Hawks (4-1, 1-0) in the opening half, rushing for 139 yards and all of his TDs before intermission.
With Senior (1-4, 0-1) taking an early 14-7 lead on a Nick Kubitz 45-yard run and Harry Blewett’s 9-yard scoring run in the first, Simmons provided a spark that propelled the Hawks.
Simmons produced a tough 38-yard run, breaking a couple tackles and stiff-arming a defender to the turf. He capped the five-play drive with three carries, including a 9-yard TD on the first play of the second quarter and tying it, 14-14.
“We go as Keegan goes,” Bliss said. “He’s the heartbeat of this team.
“The kids have done a nice job of doing everything they can to let him be Keegan Simmons.”
It was the second of three first-half touchdowns for Simmons. The all-state running back scored on a 4-yard run off a direct snap to put Prairie on the board. Simmons also added a 5-yard TD right before halftime, closing a 12-play, 77-yard drive that melted almost four minutes off the clock and gave the Hawks a 28-14 edge at the break.
Tariq Amir returned to the field after missing last week. He made an impact, tallying 154 rushing yards, including a 4-yard TD run for a 21-14 advantage with 7:08 left in the first half.
“Our offense was in our groove,” Simmons said. “We knew we had to keep pounding the ball and put it on them.”
After the break, Izaak Lindgren added two passing TDs for Prairie in the second half. Lindgren hit Ryan Kilpatrick for a 5-yard score in the third. He connected on a 19-yard TD pass to Armon Pledge in the fourth.
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“Izaak is a great quarterback,” Simmons said. “When you give him time to throw the ball, he will do that. Coaches made the right calls and we executed on those routes and touchdowns.”
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