CEDAR FALLS — It just didn’t seem fair.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy had so much trouble moving the football Monday night in its Class 4A playoff game at the UNI-Dome, a gain of four yards seemed cause for celebration. Yet here were the Cedar Falls Tigers, breaking big play after big play.
“We kind of knew that was how it was going to be,” Kennedy’s Alex Hillyer said after Cedar Falls’ 35-15 win. “Our game plan was field position. We knew two, three, four yards was how it was going to be for us. But when they break big plays, it’s frustrating.”
CF had touchdown runs of 78, 80 and 89 yards — from different dudes, no less — to move on to a 4A quarterfinal Friday night against top-seeded Pleasant Valley. Kennedy, which overcame losses in its first five games, ended its season 5-6 but with five wins in its final six games, including that memorable first-round upset last week of Muscatine.
“I’m really proud of this group, especially us seniors, to be 0-5, then really ralling like we did,” said Hillyer. “We made it to the second round of the playoffs, lost to a great Cedar Falls team on their home turf … This is never the way you want it to end, it’s always going to be tough. But I can always look back and say I’m proud to represent this team and this school.”
A 78-yard run off a counter by Jake Buck in the third quarter gave seventh-ranked Cedar Falls (10-1) a two-score cushion that all but ended Kennedy’s upset hopes. Brayden Longnecker added an 80-yard TD reverse run early in the fourth for a 28-7 lead, with a long punt return by Jacob Newton setting up the shortest of CF’s touchdowns: a 2-yard Eli Berregaard run.
Of course, Berregaard popped a basic fullback trap 89 yards in the first half. Longnecker caught a 26-yard TD pass from lefty quarterback Brian Cook on the opening possession of the game.
“I think the score’s a little bit deceiving,” said Kennedy Coach Tim Lewis. “I thought it was a little (closer) than that. Those big plays and the punt return (were the difference). I’m proud of our kids. They gave a great effort against a very good Cedar Falls team.”
Kennedy was one dimensional offensively all season, with that dimension (running back Hillyer) being bottled up most of the way. He did manage a pair of TDs and a two-point conversion in a 30-carry, 118-yard night to go over the 1,600-yard mark for the season.
“Our defense played very, very well tonight,” said Cedar Falls Co-Coach Pat Mitchell. “We seem to be getting better each week.”
Buck had 158 yards rushing for Cedar Falls, with Berregaard adding 143 and Longnecker 111. The Tigers finished with a whopping 410 yards on the ground and just shy of 500 (497) overall.
Kennedy had 213 total yards, many of which came on a late-game drive. The Cougars were 4 of 17 through the air, with Joel Smetzer’s 16-yard reverse pass late in the game nearly matching QB Riley Fergus’ total of 21.
Donovan Kosman and A.J. Carter each intercepted CF quarterback Cook, who replaced Longnecker in the team’s final regular-season game.
Here is the game boxscore:
Cedar Falls 35, CR Kennedy 15
|TEAM STATISTICS||CR Kennedy||Cedar Falls|
|Rushes-yards||49 - 166||42 - 410|
|Comp-Att-Int||4 - 17 - 1||4 - 10 - 2|
|Fumbles-lost||2 - 1||0 - 0|
|Punts-average||8 - 41.3||3 - 44.3|
|Penalties-yards||3 - 16||3 - 25|
Rushing: CR Kennedy – Alex Hillyer 30-118 , Miles Moa 5-25 , Riley Fergus 7-11 , Terrance Hall 5-10 , Logan Wedo 1-8 , Team 1--6 Cedar Falls – Jake Buck 22-158 , Eli Berregaard 12-143 , Brayden Longnecker 2-111 , Jason Geisler 1-1 , Skyler Ferguson 2-0 , Team 1--2 , Brian Cook 2--23
Passing: CR Kennedy – Riley Fergus 3-16-1-21 , Joel Smetzer 1-1-0-16 Cedar Falls – Brian Cook 4-10-2-87
Receiving: CR Kennedy – Patrick Martin 2-21 , Terrance Hall 1-8 , Joel Smetzer 1-8 Cedar Falls – Brayden Longnecker 3-60 , Ike Boettger 2-27
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CF-Brayden Longnecker 26 pass from Brian Cook (Jacob Newton kick)
CRK-Alex Hillyer 1 run (Eric Bertroche kick)
CF-Eli Berregaard 89 run (Newton kick)
CF-Jake Buck 78 run (Newton kick)
CF-Longnecker 80 run (Newton kick)
CF-Berregard 2 run (Newton kick)
CRK-Hillyer 39 run (Hillyer run)