CEDAR RAPIDS — What happens in the locker room, stays in the locker room.
But Daniel Vega offered this:
“I don’t know if I should say what happened,” he said, a wry smile on his lips. “But, to say the least, it was very vocal. Everybody was getting excited. The leaders were leading, that’s for sure.”
The leaders were leading. The defenders were defending.
Class 4A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier held Cedar Rapids Prairie to 92 yards of total offense, and shrugged off a sluggish first half in a 23-0 MVC Valley Division football victory Friday night at Saints Field.
Whatever was said at intermission, according to Xavier Coach Duane Schulte, was said before the coaches came in.
“(The coaches) didn’t have a big moment in there,” he said. “The players took care of it. By the time we got in there, we just had to preach the usual stuff — execution and all that.”
The Saints (3-0, 1-0) were clinging to a 2-0 lead midway through the third quarter before breaking it open.
Quinton Scholer connected with a wide-open Bryce Grimm for a 29-yard touchdown pass on third-and-9. That was the first of a pair of bang-bang TDs that provided the game’s signature stretch.
On the Hawks’ second play following the Scholer-to-Grimm TD, Vega hit Prairie backup quarterback Dylan Kuchemann, forcing a fumble that the Saints recovered.
Five plays later, Brendan Miller scored from 2 yards out to stretch the lead to 16-0.
And the way the Saints were defending, that was more than safe.
“Defense is fun,” Vega said. “We did our jobs and held them down.”
Miller capped the scoring on a 1-yard run with 1:40 left in the game.
And thus ended a game cluttered by penalties — 21 in all.
The first half was bizarre from the start.
Prairie (1-2, 0-1) opened the game with a successful onside kick, but as would be the case all night, couldn’t move the ball. The Hawks tried a version of the single-wing offense, with Jesse Vizzini and Mitch Christensen serving as spinbacks, to no avail.
Xavier lineman Tim Otting went down on the Saints’ second offensive series in what was later determined to be a dislocated kneecap.
Two Xavier drives stalled before halftime inside the 10-yard line. Robbie Kohl recovered a Jay Kortemeyer fumble at the 4, then another drive ended on downs at the 7, and Ryan Persick missed a 24-yard field goal attempt wide left.
Kohl also intercepted a pass.
So despite a 167-34 advantage in yardage, Xavier went into the locker room with a 2-0 advantage.
The deuce came on a team safety with 8:59 left in the second quarter, when a low snap forced Prairie punter JoJo Simpson to take a knee in the end zone.
“I don’t know,” Vega said. “Offensively, defensively … we just didn’t seem ready to play. But in the locker room, we got fired up.”
Xavier is at Dubuque Wahlert next week; Prairie hosts Iowa City West.
CR Xavier 23, CR Prairie 0
AT SAINTS FIELD
|TEAM STATISTICS||CR Prairie||CR Xavier|
|Rushes-yards||33 - 43||41 - 220|
|Comp-Att-Int||5 - 17 - 0||9 - 14 - 1|
|Fumbles-lost||3 - 1||2 - 1|
|Punts-average||5 - 35.8||3 - 32.3|
|Penalties-yards||11 - 84||10 - 95|
Rushing: CR Prairie – Mitch Christensen 17-52 , Jesse Vizzini 2-7 , JoJo Simpson 1-4 , Trey Beckman 6-1 , Keagan Pinter 2-0 CR Xavier – Brendan Miller 22-115 , Quinton Scholer 11-55 , Jay Kortemeyer 6-44 , Wes Gardner 2-6
Passing: CR Prairie – Beckman 5-15-0-49 , Vizzini 0-1-0-0 , Dylan Kuchemann 0-1-0-0 CR Xavier – Scholer 9-14-1-108
Receiving: CR Prairie – Vizzini 3-25 , Mitch Dellamuth 1-15 , Drayton Zimmerman 1-9 CR Xavier – Bryce Grimm 3-54 , Colin O'Connell 3-24 , Gardner 1-18 , Frank Hill 1-11 , Matt Nelson 1-1
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CRX - Team safety
CRX - Ryan Grimm 29 pass from Quinton Scholer (Ryan Persick kick)
CRX - Brendan Miller 2 run (Persick kick)
CRX - Miller 1 run (Persick kick)