IOWA CITY — He shanked two chip shots.
Then, with the game — and a long winning streak — on the line, Drew Cornwell atoned and became a hero.
Cornwell, a 15-year-old freshman, drilled a 27-yard field goal with 1 second remaining to give Class 4A third-ranked Iowa City High a 26-24 win over No. 5 Cedar Rapids Xavier in a Mississippi Valley Conference thriller Friday night at Bates Field.
The Little Hawks (4-0) drove 70 yards in the final 63 seconds and extended their winning streak to 18 games.
“I knew we had one time out. We had to make first downs or get out of bounds,” said City quarterback Andrew McNulty, who completed 5 of 6 passes in the final drive. “The line was giving me enough time and the receivers were running great routes.”
McNulty’s 17-yard pass to Connor Alberhasky advanced the ball to the Xavier 10. After a spike stopped the clock, Cornwell came through.
“There were a lot of thoughts running through my head,” said Cornwell, who misfired earlier on two extra-point attempts, including one that appeared to be the difference before the fateful final drive. “But I just kept thinking I was going to make the kick.”
Xavier (3-1) had taken a 24-23 lead when Andy Didio rolled left for a 1-yard touchdown run on fourth down with 1:03 to go. That capped a 15-play, 65-yard drive that ate 8 1/2 minutes.
“If anything, this game showed that we have great, tough kids,” said Xavier Coach Duane Schulte. “We were outmanned, we were outsized and we were out-enrollment-ed. Are you kidding me? Our guys against that team?”
The Saints rallied from an early 9-0 deficit with 17 consecutive points. But the Little Hawks benefitted from an inadvertent whistle that erased a Xavier fumble recovery late in the third quarter.
“We were a couple of plays away,” Schulte said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
City High eventually scored on that drive — Ronald Thompson capped it with a 1-yard plunge, then added the two-point conversion to tie it, 17-17.
Thompson scored again on a 2-yard run with 9:28 left to give the Little Hawks a 23-17 lead. Cornwell missed the PAT, but more than made up for it at the end.
“He did great,” McNulty said. “He knocked it down.”
City High started its winning drive at its own 20. McNulty hit three quick passes — to Alberhasky for 15 yards, to Thompson for 15, to Jeremy Johnson for 10 — and the Little Hawks were on the march.
“We didn’t stop them,” Schulte said. “They drove down the field to win it.”
The Little Hawks outgained Xavier by a 443-234 margin. McNulty completed 14 of 20 passes for 199 yards, and rushed for 115 yards on 12 carries. Thompson rushed for 129 yards on 20 carries.
Pat Chizek rushed for 128 yards on 28 attempts for Xavier. Didio had scoring tosses to Ryan Mains and Nathan Even.
“As big as they are, we shouldn’t be on the field with those guys. But we kept pushing the ball and kept getting after it,” Didio said. “We did what Xavier football does.”
They fought. But City had the last possession. And the last word.