CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Tale of two halves? "That's the tale of our season," Iowa City West Coach Brian Sauser said, shaking his head, after his team's 29-22 win over Cedar Rapids Prairie Friday night at John Wall Field.
West rebounded from a poor first half again with 22 second-half points that improved it to the break-even mark at 2-2. This come-from-behind victory wasn't secured until sophomore linebacker Jessie Peterson stepped in front of and intercepted a slant pass from Prairie quarterback Chaz Boots at the Trojans 10 with 50 seconds to go.
Par for the course this season for cardiac West, if you'll excuse the mixed sports metaphors.
"We've been playing the same way (all season)," said West's outstanding junior quarterback Charles Rogers. "I don't know why we can't get it done in the first half. We just have to come out more mentally prepared and be ready to get going right away."
Prairie (0-4) ran to a 12-0 lead behind the legs of junior running back Zach Witte, who had a game-high 151 yards. Boots had a 5-yard TD run off a bootleg in the first quarter, with Witte adding a 3-yard TD plunge in the second.
The Hawks looked to go up by three scores late in the second quarter, but Witte fumbled into the end zone from the 1, with West recovering for a touchback. Rogers got his team going through the air, driving it 80 yards, the final 23 a touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Ezra Reiners that somehow made it a 12-7 game at halftime.
Reiners is the son of former University of Iowa quarterback Randy Reiners.
"That was as big as it gets," Sauser said. "That was a 14-point swing."
Prairie couldn't stop Rogers in the second half. The dual-threat quarterback connected with wide receiver Mondo Williams for a 55-yard touchdown pass that put West up for good early in the third quarter.
Prairie drove to the West 15 on the ensuing possession, but sophomore defensive back Dondre Alexander stripped Witte of the ball and rumbled 85 yards the other way for a stunning 22-12 Trojans lead.
"Instead of holding the ball high, I held it low, and he hooked it," Witte said. "I did something I wasn't supposed to do."
Prairie made it 22-15 on a Tanner Riley 35-yard field goal, but West responded with a 20-yard Rogers TD run early in the fourth for a 29-15 edge. At that point in the game, West had 240 yards, Rogers a combined 263 running and passing.
No, that's not a misprint. A Witte 1-yard TD plunge made it 29-22, with Prairie getting to the West 15 before Peterson's leaping pick.