IOWA CITY– Blame it on the full moon. Blame it on bad luck and/or lucky breaks.
It boils down to fundamentals.
The Prairie Hawks of Cedar Rapids Prairie had them down pat Monday night as they rolled onto Trojan Field for a rematch in a Class 4A second round playoff game. West defeated Prairie 58-27 in the regular season and was ranked No. 2 in the state with a 10-0 record vs. Prairie’s 7-3. Under a full moon and with the end of the season, or advancing one step closer to the UNI Dome on the line, the Prairie Hawks apparently forgot they were supposed to lose.
West’s woes began on their first possession. A fumble on the kick-off return, the first of seven Trojan turnovers, set Prairie up with good field position. Not even two minutes into the first quarter, Prairie scored on a 1-yard run. The Trojans tried to get the points back, converting a fourth down with a fake punt for a first down. But a Prairie Hawk intercepted Nate Boland’s pass to end the drive.
Prairie threatened two more times in the first with a failed field goal attempt and an incomplete pass in the West end zone before Ezra Reiners scored on a 9-yard run. Mueng Sunday’s extra point kick was good and the quarter ended with a 7-7 tie.
The teams traded touchdowns throughout the second quarter with Prairie scoring early after a long pass gave them a first-and-goal. A 1-yard run put the visitors ahead 14-7. Boland scored on a quarterback keeper, scrambling for a 1-yard touchdown to tie the game. Another Prairie pass put the guests up 21-14, but Reid Bonner took a punt return 70 yards to score with 1:42 left in the half. Sunday’s kick was good and a 21-21 tie ensued.
The half ended on a particularly sour note for the Trojans. After holding Prairie to a field goal attempt and blocking the kick as time ran out, a penalty was called on West. Since a quarter cannot end on a penalty, Prairie was gifted with one more play. Rather than try the kick again, the Hawks elected to go for a touchdown, and got it with a nearly 20-yard pass into the end zone. With the extra point kick, the Hawks ended the half ahead 28-21.
The third quarter started badly for West as the toils and troubles continued as their first drive ended in an interception. With 3:21 left in the period, Prairie scored again on a short run to put West down 35-21. Prairie kicked-off to West, and ended up recovering the onside kick for a first down on West’s 38-yard line. With 1:25 on the clock, a Prairie pass flew in to score, and the Hawks led 42-21.
The carnage continued in the final 12 minutes as Boland was sacked twice in one drive, which resulted in the ball going over on downs. Again the Cedar Rapids birds took to the air with a long bomb into the end zone for a touchdown. The West sideline made it very clear they disagreed with the call. However, the zebras stuck to their story and the scoreboard showed 49-21 with 7:35 left in the game.
With just under five minutes remaining, Reiners scored on a short run for the 49-28 final.
A dejected Trojan squad performed the obligatory handshake and good game mantra before gathering to watch in solemn silence as Prairie was congratulated for advancing to a Friday night meeting with Cedar Rapids Xavier in the Class 4A Quarterfinal Round. After receiving a Postseason Tournament trophy, the team retreated to the locker room for the final time. The game was the final performance on the West High gridiron for seniors Royce Peterson, Reiners, Dondre Alexander, Josh Verry, Xavier May, Bonner, Jeremy Morgan, Sunday, Jacob Frisbie, Brian Melendez, Blake Bohner and Jessie Peterson.
Reiners, back from a leg injury, led West’s ground assault with 21 carries for 136 yards. Devin Raffensperger had one for 5, Micah Kelsay had one carry for zero yards gained, Boland kept the ball 11 times for 13 yards, Bonner had three carries for 51, Sunday carried once for 11 and Tavian Smith had one carry for no yards gained.
The Trojan air war struggled as Boland completed 15 of 28 passes for 185 yards. Boland was intercepted three times. After being shaken up in the fourth quarter, Xavier May came in for two plays, going 0-2. Alexander had some passes slip away that could’ve been touchdowns and only caught three for 38 yards. Morgan received five for 47, Bonner took one for 5, Reiners caught five for 86 and Anthony Batie grabbed one for 15 yards.
West’s record for the 2012 season is 10-1.