CEDAR RAPIDS — On homecoming night, Cedar Rapids Prairie did all it could to pull off an upset of No. 3 Iowa City West.
But a bizarre 48 minutes of football ended in a disappointment for the Hawks (1-3), who fell to the Trojans (4-0), 21-14.
“I’m extremely proud of our kids. It’s fun when we get out there and score 50, 60 points, but to gut out a tough win in a tough place to come play (is huge),” said Iowa City West Coach Brian Sauser. “Prairie plays us tougher than anybody, they’re extremely well-coached, and we had our hands full with them.”
The Trojans gutting it out included dealing with officiating that left parties on both sides of the field scratching their heads at times.
The two teams combined for 20 penalties for 158 yards, and while both sides were far from disciplined — 12 of the total penalties were for illegal procedure — the officials were consistently bombarded with questions from the respective coaching staffs, and rained with boos from the crowd.
“I’ve never seen these (officials) before and maybe there’s a reason for that,” Sauser said. “I don’t know. Both ways, it was really a challenging night for both teams with some of the things that went on out here call-wise, but that’s the way it goes.”
In what turned out to be the turning point of the game, the officials were once again at the center of attention.
On a 1st and 15 from the Prairie 42 and the Trojans trailing 14-7, West quarterback Nate Boland completed a pass to receiver Anthony Batie for 24 yards. It appeared Batie might have pushed off the defender in the process of making the catch, but did get at least one foot in bounds.
That’s where things got bizarre.
No flag was ever thrown on the play. Batie was initially ruled to have caught the ball by the umpire, but was waved off by the side judge, who ruled Batie did not, in fact, get his feet down to complete the catch. Then, after a lengthy delay, during which officials conferred among themselves and with both coaches, Batie was finally ruled to have caught the 24-yard pass, and West had a 1st and 10 inside the Prairie 20.
“I mean, it was not a hard call. (Batie) caught it, made a football move,” Sauser said. “The official actually said, at first, ‘Well he didn’t have two feet in bounds.’ I said, ‘Sir, it’s high school, he needs one.’ He said, ‘Oh yeah, that’s right.’ So it’s not like I really felt like we got away with something because he had a foot in bounds. It was a nice, clean play.”
On the other side of the field, Prairie Coach Mike Morrissey could only watch, and attempt to keep his players’ minds focused.
But when it comes to officiating, coaches will be the first to say that beyond a certain point, there’s simply nothing you can do. Morrissey merely shrugged his shoulders when asked about the play.
“I mean, it is what it is. There’s some things you just can’t control, and I thought our kids handled it very well,” Morrissey said. “I thought our coaching staff handled it about as well as we could. We’re winners tonight, regardless of the scoreboard. I thought (the players) exhibited everything we asked them to do from a character standpoint and a total-effort standpoint, and I’m just very proud of them.”
Six plays after the catch/no catch/catch, West was able to tie it at 14-14 on a fourth and goal from the one, as running back Micah Kelsay plunged in for the score.
Prairie mounted what looked like a strong answer drive immediately after, and got as far as the West 21 yard line. What looked like a go-ahead score on a 21-yard touchdown run from receiver Jesse Vizzini was called back due to a late holding call.
Asked about that call, too, Morrissey once again couldn’t offer much more than disappointed resignation.
“There were some bad breaks here and there. I thought the holding call on the touchdown was questionable,” Morrissey said. “All I know is the referee threw the flag when (Vizzini) was already in the end zone.”
In the end, West turned what maybe should’ve been a loss into a win, keeping their record spotless heading into a matchup on the road at Dubuque Senior.
For Prairie, the game will likely be looked back on with many could’ve, would’ve, should’ve’s. The Hawks had their chances — quarterback Trey Beckman tossed an interception on the West five yard line in the third quarter, preceding the catch fiasco, that would’ve put Prairie in position to go up 21-7 — but ultimately couldn’t pull of a second straight upset of the Trojans.
Even with the loss and the three-game losing streak, Morrissey and the Hawks aren’t going to give up yet.
“Looking our kids in the eye in the huddle here, we’re going to come back ready. And I really think they understand that we were in a very similar spot last year … we were 2-2 after this game last year,” Morrissey said. “Every team is good in our league. You’ve got to come ready to play with every single team we play. So I think we’ll be ok.”
IC West 21, CR Prairie 14
AT CR Praire
|TEAM STATISTICS||IC West||CR Prairie|
|Rushes-yards||56 - 269||30 - 186|
|Comp-Att-Int||7 - 19 - 0||8 - 17 - 1|
|Fumbles-lost||2 - 0||1 - 0|
|Punts-average||2 - 27.5||2 - 41.5|
|Penalties-yards||10 - 75||10 - 83|
Rushing: IC West – Nate Boland 21-65 , Devin Raffensperger 13-91 , Kevin Dowell 3-8 , Micah Kelsay 14-73 , Clay Moel 1-1 , Connor Greene 2-20 , Alexander Bradshaw 2-11 CR Prairie – Mitchell Christensen 19-112 , Trey Beckman 6-21 , Keegan Pinter 2-24 , Jesse Vizzini 3-29
Passing: IC West – Nate Boland 7-19-0-97 CR Prairie – Trey Beckman 8-17-1-81
Receiving: IC West – Anthony Batie 4-67 , Micah Kelsay 1-10 , Oliver Martin 1-10 , Aaron Bleil 1-10 CR Prairie – Jesse Vizzini 5-69 , Jomaryon Simpson 1-18 , Keegan Pinter 1-32
SCORE BY QUARTERS
ICW - 0:28, Nate Boland 13 yard run (Connor Gordon XP good)
CRP - 8:44, Trey Beckman 10 yard run (XP good)
CRP - 8:41, Trey Beckman 31 yard pass to Jesse Vizzini (XP good)
ICW - 11:23, Micah Kelsay 1 yard run (XP good)
ICW - 3:12, Micah Kelsay 26 yard run (XP good)