Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
MUSCATINE, Iowa They did the Hokey Pokey and they turned themselves around.
Boy, have they turned themselves around.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy continued its late-season awakening Wednesday night, holding off Muscatine, 20-17, in a Class 4A first-round football playoff game at Muscatine Community Stadium.
The victory literally wasn't secure until the final second: Muscatine's Daylan Oldfield was short on a 42-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the game.
"This definitely washes out whatever happened at the beginning of the season," said Kennedy quarterback Riley Fergus. "This is pretty special."
Yes, 0-5 seems ages ago. Kennedy (5-5) takes a five-game winning streak to the UNI-Dome on Monday, when they'll face No. 7 Cedar Falls (9-1) in Round 2.
Cedar Falls blanked Davenport Central, 22-0, Wednesday.
"This team has gone from no emotion to everybody showing a lot of emotion," said A.J. Carter, who had an interception to help stake a strong defensive effort. "We were intense the whole time."
After Oldfield's kick went short and the Muskies were handed their playoff awards, the Cougars scampered to outside their locker room, where they Hokeyed, Pokeyed and hollered in unison.
Muscatine (7-3) never led, but made matters extremely interesting after Kennedy took a seemingly safe 20-10 lead with 7:37 to go.
The Cougars punted with 3 minutes left, then Muscatine drove 70 yards in three plays to creep closer. A 7-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jon Crowe brought the Muskies within three points with 2:09 to go.
Muscatine elected not to onside kick. The Cougars went three-and-out, and Muscatine took possession at its own 44 with 15 seconds left.
Two completions got the hosts to the Kennedy 25, but Oldfield who had made a 52-yarder with the wind to end the first half couldn't convert on the game-tying try.
The second-leading passer in Class 4A, Crowe completed 17 of 26 passes for 255 yards. He ended the season with 2,847 yards.
"Great team, great quarterback," said Kennedy Coach Tim Lewis. "We feel very fortunate to get out of here with a win.
"To go 0-5 then 5-0, it's crazy. You have to credit the kids. And coaches can be a little stubborn, but we found out that we had to make some changes."
Kennedy rang up 190 yards of offense in the first half on the way to a 13-10 lead, but the well dried up after intermission, and the Cougars had to rely on their defense.
"We had some opportunities that we didn't take advantage of," Lewis said. "We have to shore that up before the next round."
Kennedy couldn't capitalize on a pair of third-quarter turnovers, but did cash in on a long punt return.
Alex Hillyer's 2-yard run gave Kennedy a 20-10 lead. Hillyer finished with 125 yards on 30 carries, running his season total to 1,566 yards.
Kennedy's win was representative of the Mississippi Valley Conference's ownership of the Mississippi Athletic Conference. The MVC won all three games Wednesday against the MAC Cedar Falls beat Central and Waterloo East whipped Davenport Assumption.
"I felt we could take advantage of our speed," Lewis said.
Kennedy opened the game with a textbook drive, marching 57 yards in 11 plays. The Cougars converted a fourth-and-2 at the Muskies 38, then eventually scored when Fergus connected with a wide-open Patrick Martin for a 19-yard touchdown.
The Cougars were in business again when Carter intercepted Crowe at the Kennedy 10 and returned it to near midfield, but the drive stalled and Eric Bertroche missed a 41-yard field goal.
Muscatine got even on Crowe's 2-yard touchdown pass to Drake Kulick.
Kennedy regained the lead, 13-7, on Hillyer's 5-yard touchdown run with 25 seconds left in the half. But the Muskies quickly got into position for Oldfield, who made the 52-yard kick with room to spare.