Atwater injury mars huge Coe victory over Loras
CEDAR RAPIDS – On a day when virtually everything was good for the Coe Kohawks, the one thing that wasn’t sort of overshadowed everything.
Brendan Leiran had five first-half touchdowns and moved into fourth place on the school’s career rushing list as Coe crushed Loras, 69-7, Saturday afternoon at Clark Field. The Kohawks are a perfect 5-0 as they head into the meat of their Iowa Conference schedule.
They might go into a stretch that includes a game next week at last year’s IIAC champ Dubuque without the services of freshman backup quarterback Mark Atwater. The former Linn-Mar prep was injured on a frightening hit at the Loras sideline after a run in the third quarter.
Atwater, who has played in every game, lay motionless for several minutes and was taken off the field on a stretcher. He was diagnosed with a concussion but had full feeling and movement in his extremities.
“It’s just a sick feeling,” said Coe Coach Steve Staker. “I saw the hit, and I just cringed.”
“It sucks. Especially when it’s a freshman who has got a lot of talent,” Leiran said. “You hope that something like this doesn’t end his career, that it’s something relatively minor.”
Atwater’s father, Larry, is Coe’s defensive coordinator and his brother, Jordan, the team’s starting free safety. Larry Atwater came down to the field from the coach’s booth in the press box to be at his son’s side as he was tended to by trainers and paramedics.
“I always think he’s going to get up because he’s so tough,” Jordan Atwater said.
“His dad was on the headset and said ‘Oh, my God, no,’” Staker said. “But we walked over there, and he was alert. They were touching all of his extremities, and he was like ‘I feel everything. My neck just hurts.’ So that made me feel better … He took a wicked shot, that’s for sure.”
As did Loras (2-3) in this mismatch. Leiran scored four times in the first quarter alone, racking up 164 yards in the game to surpass Coe assistant coach Ashton Northern on Coe’s career rushing ladder.
Interestingly, his five TDs weren’t a career high.
“In high school, I had seven. The last game of my senior year,” the senior from Waukon said.
Quarterback Jared McNutt completed 8 of 11 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns to Jared Kuehner as Coe stretched its lead to 56-0 at halftime. The Kohawks had 380 yards the first two quarters.
Reserves played the entire second half. Coe smacked Buena Vista last week, 51-0.
“These last two games we’ve clicked on all cylinders,” Leiran said. “We’re passing the ball, we’re running the ball, our defense is still playing great.”
“We’re finishing, and we’re playing well,” Staker said. “We’re executing well, our receivers are catching the ball now. The quarterback is on target. And our defense has really come on. I feel really good about our defense.”
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