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Prep Football: Opening Kick Sets Tone For Kennedy's Win Over Hempstead

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa Cedar Rapids Kennedy used a hot start to remain on fire.

Donovan Kosman returned the opening kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown and Alex Hillyer scored four times in the first half, igniting the Cougars to a third straight win with, 48-7, triumph over Dubuque Hempstead in a Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division football game Friday night at Kingston Stadium.

Kennedy still has playoff hopes thanks to the recent win streak. The Cougars' effort has been good throughout the season, but the Cougars own an increased sense of urgency to earn an eighth straight postseason berth.

"Seniors have figured out they're getting toward the end of this thing and they want to keep playing," Kennedy Coach Tim Lewis said before the Cougars' third-straight victory. "They're looking back to what we've done in the past with the late runs.

"We've played decent at times the last few games and we decided we were starting a new season the (Cedar Rapids) Jefferson (game) week, and we were going to take it one game at a time from there."

Kennedy tallied 252 yards on the ground, dominating Hempstead in the first half. Hillyer ran through and by the Mustangs regularly before the break, capping Kennedy's first two drives with a 4- and 10-yard touchdown run.

The Hillyer effect was apparent when he ran for gains of 26, 34 and a 6-yard on consecutive plays to account for the Cougars' entire fourth offensive drive. Hillyer also added a 5-yard touchdown as time expired in the first half, giving the Cougars a 41-0 lead at the break.

Hillyer, who is second in Class 4A in rushing yards, amassed 221 Friday night, giving him 1,203 for the season.

The struggles continued after the break for Hempstead, which fumbled on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. Kennedy took advantage on Alex Boomershine's 3-yard TD. Boomershine added two rushing touchdowns for Cougars.

Hempstead finally got on the scoreboard with 9:26 to go when Drew Wagner finished a 15-play, 71-yard drive with a 1-yard TD. Wagner had 67 rushing yards and 81 through the air, completing 8-of-18 passes.

The Kennedy defense stifled Hempstead, forcing three turnovers including interceptions from Kosman and Anthony Carter, and allowing just 177 total yards.

High expectations and what turned out to be a tough schedule, made the first five losses more of a surprise than the recent hot streak. Lewis said coaches tweaked and revisited their approach, and he praised the team's resolve.

"I credit the kids for hanging on," Lewis said in a pregame interview. "There were some tough times for a while."

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