CEDAR RAPIDS — Cedar Rapids Kennedy played another splendid defensive game.
But Bettendorf’s defense was even better.
The fourth-ranked Bulldogs held Kennedy to 48 yards through the first three quarters and prevailed, 14-7, in a Class 4A quarterfinal football game Friday night at Kingston Stadium.
“Hats off to them,” said Kennedy quarterback Jed Haycraft. “We tried to run, and it didn’t work. We tried to pass, and we had some success, but it was just a little too late.”
Bettendorf (12-0) will face No. 2 Iowa City High (12-0) in a semifinal at the UNI-Dome next Friday. The Little Hawks whipped No. 3 Cedar Falls, 49-28.
Kennedy saw a six-game winning streak come to an end and retired at 7-5.
“All we can do now is look back at the good things we’ve done (the past few weeks),” said Kennedy’s Christian French. “You just have to take this for what it is and accept the loss.”
This was the third straight low-scoring affair the Cougars endured. They beat Cedar Rapids Xavier and North Scott in the first two rounds by scores of 11-7 and 13-7.
Friday, the Cougars were on the short end.
“Our plan was to do what we do best, and that’s run the football,” said Kennedy Coach Tim Lewis. “We made some blocking adjustments, but we just couldn’t get anything going on a consistent basis. We tried to spread them out, but we ran out of time.”
Bettendorf avenged a 17-14 loss to the Cougars in last year’s first round and improved to 17-4 all-time in quarterfinal games.
“They’re a faster team this year,” Haycraft said. “Overall, they’re just a better team.”
Floundering offensively through the majority of the game, Kennedy got within 14-7 on Haycraft’s 49-yard pass to Jake Losch with 10:23 to go.
Other than that, Kennedy wasn’t able to generate much. Credit the Bulldogs.
“I think we just have physical kids, particularly our front four,” said Bettendorf Coach Aaron Wiley. “What we do is simple. We don’t do anything too tricky.”
The Cougars got the ball two more times. One ended in a failed fake punt. The other ended with an interception.
Haycraft threw for 131 yards. The Cougars netted 54 rushing yards, including minus-3 in the first half.
But the defense kept them close.
“That’s the best damn four-loss team I’ve ever seen,” Wiley said. “We knew they would give us some problems.”
Bettendorf’s Malique Hudson returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to the Kennedy 42, and the ball stayed in Cougars territory the entire first quarter.
The Cougars stiffened on that first drive and forced a 45-yard field goal attempt, which Travis St. Ores pushed wide right.
Tom Dunlavy intercepted a pass by Haycraft on the Cougars’ third play. Bettendorf drove to the Kennedy 2, but the Cougars stuffed Justin Van Houtan on fourth-and-goal.
Bettendorf finally struck on its third possession, driving 42 yards in four plays. Blake Younkin capped it with a 3-yard scoring burst.
The Bulldogs appeared poised to score again after Younkin’s 68-yard burst advanced the ball to the Kennedy 25. But two plays later, French came from the right side and sacked Gage Ridenour, and Ryan Sheldon recovered the fumble.
Bettendorf went up 14-0 when Tamrick Atwood recovered teammate Devon Spreen’s fumble in the end zone in the third quarter.
Kennedy responded with a 72-yard scoring drive, punctuated when Haycraft found Losch open along the right sideline on third-and-10 at the Bettendorf 49.
Younkin finished with 140 yards on 21 carries.
Midway through the regular season, Kennedy appeared to be headed nowhere. They were 1-4 against a brutal early schedule.
“The seniors really rallied after the Iowa City High game (in Week 5),” Lewis said. “It was a new season.”
Haycraft said, “I couldn’t be prouder to be a Cougar. I’m proud of these guys, and I’m proud of the coaches.
“This is just the end of the road.”