DAVENPORT — Surgical early. Spotty later. Stingy throughout.
And triumphant again.
Class 3A second-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier yielded just 125 yards and five first downs and recorded its second shutout of the season, 17-0 over No. 10 Davenport Assumption in a Class 3A non-district football game Thursday night at Brady Street Stadium.
“Their quarterback (Tyler Kulhanek) is explosive; he’s a dangerous athlete,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “So containment was a huge thing.”
This was more than just containment. This was stop-’em-cold stuff. You got the sense that they could have played until dawn, and the Saints (3-0) would have kept Assumption out of the end zone. The Knights’ deepest penetration was the Xavier 41-yard line.
“It definitely starts with our defensive line,” said defensive back Jaxon Rexroth, whose interception killed the Knights’ most serious threat in the third quarter. “They put good pressure on the quarterback all night, and shut them down.”
Two-time defending 3A state champions, the Saints extended their winning streak to 29 games. They did so despite three turnovers in the third quarter.
“That’s going to happen sometimes,” Xavier quarterback Tyler Dupont said. “We got a big interception (from Rexroth), and that got us going again. Our defense played the best it’s played all year. I’m unbelievably proud of them.”
Xavier held the Knights (2-1) to one first down on their first series and forced a punt. The Saints followed with a methodical scoring drive, 73 yards in 11 plays, including the last eight on the ground.
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Jack Lux capped it with a 3-yard touchdown on a pitch to the left side. Carter Diebold converted the PAT for a 7-0 lead.
“After last week (in which the Saints trailed at halftime before beating Decorah, 36-14), we knew we had to go out and go hard right away,” Dupont said. “We pounded the ball down their throats, getting at last 4 yards every play.
“It’s all about our offensive line.”
The Saints’ next two drives ended in a punt and a missed field goal, but they hustled downfield to beat the clock with a 22-yard field goal by Diebold with 1 second left in the half to make it 10-0.
Four plays after Rexroth’s interception and long return, the Saints drove 38 yards for the clinching touchdown, a 15-yard run by Dupont.
The statistics were far more one-sided than the scoreboard would indicate. Xavier enjoyed a 374-125 advantage in yards and 22-5 in first downs. Dupont rushed for 83 yards (one of five ball carriers with more than 30) and passed for 153.
Xavier hosts West Delaware next week; Assumption is at Solon.
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