CEDAR RAPIDS – 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.
“It was a great team effort,” Kennedy Coach Tim Lewis said. “Our offense was running on all cylinders.”
Kosman provided the initial spark, fielding the game’s first kick and instantly putting the Cougars on the board. The senior defensive back scored his first touchdown since sixth grade.
“That felt great,” Kosman said. “Nothing better than to start the game with it.”
After receiving the ball, Kosman faked a reverse to Hillyer, tucked the ball on his hip and then turned to the right sideline. Hempstead pursued the decoy, giving Kosman an open field. Kennedy introduced it and started working on it this week in practice.
“We were pretty excited about that, opening it up,” Kosman said. “Right when I turned the corner, there were only two guys left, everybody followed Hillyer, it was just one broken tackle and then Prince Kollie was a lead blocker.”
The Cougars (3-5, 3-2) rolled behind the running game, racking up 296 yards on the ground while dominating Hempstead in the first half. Hillyer ran through and by the Mustangs (0-8. 0-6) regularly before the break, capping Kennedy’s first two drives with 4- and 10-yard touchdown runs.
It was a monster night for the senior running back. Hillyer, who is second in Class 4A in rushing yards, amassed 221 Friday night, giving him 1,203 for the season.
“Alex ran hard like he has been all year,” Lewis said. “Our offensive line were hitting their blocks, and we didn’t have to throw the ball a whole lot.”
The Hillyer effect was apparent when he ran for gains of 26, 34 and a 6-yard TD on consecutive plays to account for the Cougars’ entire fourth offensive drive.
“We’ve done it a couple times this year,” Hillyer said. “It feels good. We like short drives so you’re not out there as long.”
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 became the first Kennedy rusher to surpass the 1,000-yard mark since Curtis Meier in 2005.
“We wanted to get him at least that,” Lewis said. “He is a great kid, and deserves everything he gets.”
Kennedy took advantage of a Hempstead fumble to start the third quarter. Alex Boomershine scored on a 3-yard run for his second touchdown of the game, pushing the Cougars’ lead to 48 points. Boomershine also scored on a 4-yard run up the middle in the second quarter. Terrance hall added 41 rushing yards – all in the first half.
“I was glad to see Alex Boomershine get in the end zone. Those are his first two scores,” Lewis said. “We were able to spread the ball around and get a lot of kids get some touches.”
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 Cougars defense stifled Hempstead, forcing three turnovers including interceptions from Kosman and A.J. Carter, and allowing just 177 total yards.
“We put a lot of pressure on them,” Lewis said. “That was our game plan.”
Kennedy still has hopes for an eighth straight postseason berth thanks to the recent win streak. The Cougars are continuing their trend of overcoming slow starts with strong finishes.
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.”
The team began showing more emotion and enthusiasm mid-season. The turnaround began around a blowout loss to Class 4A fourth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier and a win over Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
“We’re playing into that right now, using it to our advantage,” Hillyer said. “I feel like most teams know that now. Maybe that’s how they see us, so that plays into our hands now we’re in the second half.”
Kennedy closes the regular season at Iowa City High (4-4, 3-2). Win and they are back in the playoffs. A loss, however, means they still need help to play again. The Cougars are riding a heater at the moment.
“City High is a great team. They always are, and always tough,” Hillyer said. “We’re going to try to combat that with our momentum and what we have going for us.”
CR Kennedy 48, Dbq. Hemp. 7
AT KINGSTON STADIUM
|TEAM STATISTICS||Dbq. Hemp.||CR Kennedy|
|Rushes-yards||35 - 96||38 - 296|
|Comp-Att-Int||8 - 18 - 2||1 - 1 - 0|
|Fumbles-lost||1 - 1||0 - 0|
|Punts-average||3 - 37.0||2 - 38.5|
|Penalties-yards||4 - 45||3 - 35|
Rushing: Dbq. Hemp. – Drew Wagner 20-67 , Carter Daack 4-17 , Zach Sabers 5-13 , Matt Zenner 5-2 , Lucas Hodge 1-0 CR Kennedy – Alex Hillyer 20-221 , Miles Moa 5-41 , Alex Boomershine 4-13 , Terrance Hall 2-8 , Riley Fergus 4-7 , Trevor Walker 3-6
Passing: Dbq. Hemp. – Drew Wagner 8-18-2-81 CR Kennedy – Riley Fergus 1-1-0-12
Receiving: Dbq. Hemp. – Zenner 5-48 , Matt Flynn 1-16 , Jake Oberbroeckling 1-11 , Brady Breitbach 1-6 CR Kennedy – Pat Martin 1-12
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CRK - Donovan Kosman 89 kickoff return (Eric Bertroche kick)
CRK - Hillyer 4 run (Bertroche kick)
CRK - Hillyer 10 run (Bertroche kick)
CRK - Hiller 6 run (Bertroche kick)
CRK - Boomershine 4 run (Bertrioche kick)
CRK - Hillyer 5 run (Bertroche kick)
CRK - Boomershine 3 run (Bertriche kick)
DH - Wagner 1 run (Fred Kalb kick)