CEDAR RAPIDS — If top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier had designs on sailing into the Class 3A quarterfinals, Dubuque Wahlert did not oblige.
The Golden Eagles (6-3) gave Xavier all it could handle but the Saints (9-0) had a response to every threat. Xavier survived a tense battle, 17-14, Friday night at Saints Field.
“We knew coming in, (Wahlert) is an extremely disciplined team, a well-coached team,” Xaiver running back Jack Lux said. “Give credit to them. They had a great game plan.”
“Wahlert football had been getting better last year,” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “You could see on film this year that they were getting better. We told our guys, ‘you’re basically playing yourselves.’”
The Saints started slow. Their first four possessions ended in a trio of three-and-outs and an interception. Following the third three-and-out, Wahlert caught the break it had been waiting for. Ian Takes blocked the punt and Sam Timp picked it up on the hop, taking it to the house from 25 yards out for a 7-0 Wahlert lead.
On their ensuing possession, the Saints snapped out of it. Xavier ripped off consecutive runs of 7, 18, 9, and 5 yards, but the drive stalled. It served as a warning shot.
When the Saints got the ball back, Lux hit Wahlert with three straight big runs, capped by a 35-yarder into the end zone.
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Facing third-and-2 to begin the second half, Wahlert geared up to stop Lux, but quarterback Jaxson Rexroth kept on an option and raced 56 yards down the right sideline to the 1. Rexroth scored on a sneak on the next snap.
The Saints then found themselves in Wahlert territory on four straight possessions, missing on each opportunity.
The Golden Eagles finally struck. Carson Cummer got behind the secondary and hauled in a 67-yard touchdown pass from Bryce Rudiger to tie the game 14-14 with 7:19 to play.
Once again, the Saints answered. Lux and Rexroth alternated successful runs into Wahlert territory. Nick Kramer hauled in a sprawling 17-yard grab to set the Saints up at the Wahlert 19. Lincoln Oakley’s 30-yard field goal split the uprights with 2:55 left.
Wahlert’s last ditch effort on fourth-and-1 at its own 29 was stuffed.
The Saints move on to face Grinnell on Friday in a rematch of a game the Saints won 44-20 on Oct. 2