CEDAR RAPIDS — If there was any question how the Cedar Rapids Xavier football team would respond after its first loss since 2016, it was dispelled with a heavy dose of defense.
The third-ranked Saints built a 21-0 halftime lead behind a hard-hitting defense in a 28-0 win over Center Point-Urbana at Saints Field in a Class 3A, District 4 matchup, all but clinching a playoff berth for the 14th consecutive season.
Xaiver (7-1, 3-1), which saw its 32-game win streak end last Friday in a 20-14 loss at No. 1 Western Dubuque, dominated the Stormin’ Pointers from the start, especially on defense. The visitors were held to minus-1 yard on the ground before intermission and just 32 for the game.
CPU finished with 137 total yards.
Xavier Coach Duane Schulte insisted that Xavier didn’t change anything in preparing for a game for the first time in four years coming off a loss.
“We told the guys they had to make it business as usual,” Schulte about his team’s response to last week’s loss. “We shouldn’t have to sit here and motivate guys. It’s really in the hands of the players and they responded tonight.”
The offense, although stymied at times by the CPU defense, was able to come through with some big plays. Kaiden Cuevas, who missed last week’s loss due to illness, was plenty healthy Friday. He rushed for 119 yards in the first half on 13 carries. His 40-yard burst late in the first half gave the Saints a 21-0 halftime lead.
Cuevas only carried once in the second half as Xavier turned to different options. Schulte was pleased to have him back in the lineup.
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“I’ve got to give him credit,” Schulte said. “He really wanted to be there playing for us last week. Things were the way they were, but he sure helped us tonight.”
The Stormin’ Pointers had their moments and had some chances to score only to be turned away at each turn by the Saints.
Schulte was impressed with the effort turned in by CPU.
“Give credit to CPU and Coach (Dan) Burke,” Schulte said. “His kids played us tough to the end. That is a reflection of him from his days when he played at Davenport Assumption.”
Xavier closes the regular season next Friday at home against winless Marion while CPU (3-5, 2-2) finishes up with a game at Dubuque Wahlert.