Prep Football

No. 1 Western Dubuque snaps No. 2 Cedar Rapids Xavier's win streak at 32

Bobcats roll early, hang on for a 20-14 triumph in 3A 1-vs.-2 battle

EPWORTH — They ended Cedar Rapids Xavier’s win streak. Then they took over one of the Saints’ prime catchphrases.

“We all did our jobs, and that added up to big things,” Western Dubuque’s Carter Kluesner said after the Class 3A top-ranked Bobcats held off No. 2 Xavier, 20-14, in a 3A District 4 football showdown Friday night at Buchman Field. “I’m at a loss for words right now, but it feels great to win this one.”

Western Dubuque (7-0 overall, 3-0) dominated the first half on its way to a 20-7 lead, then waded through some anxious moments at the very end to snap the Saints’ 32-game winning streak.

The defeat was Xavier’s first since a 34-30 loss to Pella in the 2016 state semifinals and its first regular-season setback since Oct. 17, 2014 — 21-7 to Iowa City Regina.

“We’ve talked about this game for a long time,” said Bobcats quarterback Calvin Harris, who missed much of last year’s 3A championship game (won by Xavier, 34-20) with an injury. “We wanted to focus on us and play Bobcat football.”

Xavier (6-1, 2-1) drove to the Western Dubuque 21-yard line on its last-ditch final march. But quarterback Tyler Dupont slipped while rolling out on third-and-9, then a halfback pass from Tyler Wilken to Dupont was batted down.

The Bobcats ran out the clock, setting the stage for a field storm by the student body.

“We wanted to come out and play hard,” Harris said. “In the first half, we really did. In the second half, we held on.”

Other than one play, the first half was pretty much all Bobcats.

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Western Dubuque drove 65 yards in 10 plays on its first drive, with no plays going for more than 10 yards. Harris capped it with a 9-yard quarterback keeper to the left side.

The PAT kick was blocked, leaving the score 6-0.

Then came Xavier’s bright moment of the opening half. Harris suffered his first interception of the season when 285-pounder Evan Smith got up to tap the short pass, then picked it off.

“That was a dumb decision,” Harris said. “But I came back and bounced back from it.”

Five plays later, Mac Mahurin caught a halfback pass from Wilkin in the left side of the end zone and Carter Diebold’s kick gave the Saints a brief 7-6 edge.

The Bobcats answered immediately though, with another methodical drive. It took them 11 plays and nearly six minutes to travel 56 yards for the touchdown, a 9-yarder from Harris to Cameron Kluesner.

Xavier went three-and-out, then the Bobcats drove again — 73 yards in 10 plays. Harris connected with Will Burds on a 9-yard TD pass on fourth-and-goal.

Xavier got within 20-14 late in the third quarter on Dupont’s 1-yard sneak, but couldn’t make it all the way back.

“We didn’t tackle very well (in the first half),” Xavier Coach Duane Schulte said. “Nothing you can do about it now. The time to do it is during the game.

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“I’ll say the same thing I’d say after a win ... we’ve got to get ready for next week.”

The Saints fumbled twice in the second half, and Carter Kluesner recovered both of them.

“The other guys knocked the ball out, and I was there to fall on it,” he said.

Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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