CEDAR RAPIDS — With their backs up against the wall, the Cedar Rapids Prairie Hawks came out fighting.
Saddled with a pair of losses by a combined four points to start the season, Prairie received no break from the schedule makers as third-ranked Cedar Falls came to town Friday. But the Hawks weathered a swift opening punch and stormed back to stun the Tigers, 34-21, at John Wall Field. The Hawks racked up 502 yards of total offense.
“We were basically in two ballgames, five plays away from being 2-0,” Prairie head coach Mark Bliss said. “Our kids accepted where we’re at and made a concerted effort to get better this week.”
The night got off to an ominous start. Ryan Ostrich, the second-leading rusher in Class 4A, took the opening kickoff 95 yards to the house for the visiting Tigers.
Cedar Falls (2-1) looked to take control, but at the Prairie 24, Hunter Jacobson’s pass was tipped and Prairie’s Maguire Jones secured it for an interception as the Hawks took over at their own 10.
Distance from the end zone proved to be no obstacle. Dionte Fliss led Prairie (1-2) 90 yards down the field, completing five passes for 64 yards. Nick Pearson scored from a yard out.
Later, taking over at their own 3 after a fumble, Fliss orchestrated a 97-yard drive. Repeatedly drawing the defense in as he bluffed scrambles, Fliss found open receivers for chunk plays, including a 38-yarder to tight end Gabe Burkle.
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Fliss led an 80-yard scoring drive as Prairie found some cushion. Pearson raced in from 19 yards out for his third touchdown, giving Prairie a 20-7 lead with 1:04 left in the half.
After another clutch defensive stop just before halftime, Prairie came out still sizzling in the second half. Fliss led the Hawks on a quick, 80-yard drive. A third-and-10 screen netted 42 yards to Adam Longwell. Fliss connected with Jake Walter for a 24-yard score to seize a 27-7 lead.
Pearson later sealed the game with a 77-yard burst.