CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Xavier tried out some new tricks in its final tuneup before postseason play begins, but succumbed to a few tricks themselves. Ultimately the third-ranked Saints had too much firepower, muscling their way past pesky Marion, 52-14, Friday night at Saints Field.
Kaiden Cuevas led the charge for the Saints (8-1, 4-1) — rushing, receiving and nearly throwing for a touchdown in a first half that saw Xavier rack up 253 yards. For good measure, Cuevas opened the second half with a 96-yard kickoff return for a score.
“I thought Kaiden played hard,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “I’m very happy for him. He did a great job.”
The Saints raced to a quick first-quarter lead. Jack Lux took a handoff down the left side of the field 17 yards for the game’s first score.
Cuevas took a pitch and fired downfield to a wide-open Mac Muhirin for a 45-yard gain down to the Marion 6. Cuevas punched it in on the next snap, putting Xavier up 17-0.
On the verge of taking complete control, Jaxon Rexroth lost a fumble on a punt return. The Indians took over at the Xavier 26.
Dane Carstensen lofted a pass into the end zone. Connor Whalen hauled it in to put the Indians back in the game.
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Following another Xavier score, the Indians (0-9, 0-5) took a play out of the Saints’ playbook. Lucas Unsen took a pitch and heaved a pass downfield. Whalen came back to the ball and remained standing as two Saints converged and collided. Whalen sprinted 80 yards for the touchdown.
Not to be outdone, Cuevas found himself open downfield. Tyler Dupont hit him in stride for a 64-yard score and a 31-14 lead.
The Indians drove to the Xavier 14 before the drive stalled and a field-goal attempt sailed wide left as the half closed.
The Indians ran out of steam in the second half. Following the kickoff return, Cuevas added a 10-yard scoring run, his fourth score of the night. Mahurin grabbed Dupont’s third touchdown pass of the night to begin the continuous clock early in the fourth.