CEDAR RAPIDS – Last week was a miracle. This was no miracle.
Just an out and out stunner.
“Last week we made a bunch of mistakes but ended up winning,” said Cedar Rapids Washington’s Clayton Bjornsen after his team’s shocking 26-10 win over Class 4A top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier on Friday night at Saints Field. “Tonight we came to play. We fixed a lot of mistakes and pulled it off.”
Pulled it off convincingly. The Warriors were the better team offensively and defensively, with special teams enough of a push to end Xavier’s 14-game regular-season win streak.
The Saints lost for the first time in the regular season since Oct. 21, 2011 against Linn-Mar. Washington needed a pair of touchdowns in the final minute to miracle its way past Waterloo West last week, but a pair of touchdowns in the first half essentially was all it needed here.
Fair to say no one saw this coming. Except Washington.
“Our kids played real well,” said Washington Coach Paul James. “Last week, I don’t know where that came from. The challenge was to put that game behind us. Come out this week with our nose to the grindstone. They got so many congratulatory comments, things like that, sometimes those things can go to your head.”
Now James has to be concerned with this performance going to his kids’ heads.
Xavier (5-1) had been just shy of perfect defensively, no one having any idea how to move the football against it. The Saints came in with four straight shutouts and seven points allowed all season.
But Wash quarterback Reid Snitker was able to scramble away from the Saints’ non-stop pass rush and find open receivers. In the second half, he got the read option going for himself on the ground, too.
The junior accounted for four touchdowns and had 286 total yards, 221 through the air. That included touchdown passes of 33 and 30 yards to Bjornsen as Wash (3-3) built a 14-3 halftime lead.
It was a brilliant performance.
“Our line did a great job of blocking,” said Snitker. “Our receivers didn’t quit, they didn’t quit. I went to look off the safety a couple of times and threw it deep because I knew our receivers could go up and get it.”
“We mixed it up on offense, put in a couple of new formations, new personnel. Just changed it up a little bit,” said Bjornsen, who caught three balls for 100 yards. “We thought we had a chance. We watched film on them, had a good gameplan. We came strong.”
You could point to a unique 5 p.m. kickoff as a possible reason for what seemed a flat Xavier performance but both teams had to deal with it. Administrators moved up the game to avoid possible severe weather.
Xavier Coach Duane Schulte certainly made no excuses.
“They came ready to play, and they earned the win,” Schulte said. “However they gameplanned, they did a great job, executed. All the kudos to them.”
Washington took the second-half kickoff and drove 83 yards for a TD that put it up 20-3. Snitker ran a QB draw 28 yards on a 3rd-and-27 and eventually connected with a leaping Landen Akers in the left corner of the end zone for a 13-yard score.
The Warriors continually converted 3rd-and-longs in the game, unheard of against Xavier.
“We did what we had to do,” James said.
Gashed for over 300 yards defensively by a pair of West backs last week, Washington’s defense had a bounce-back game, holding Xavier to under 200 total yards (199).
The Saints never could get anything going consistently, bogged down by turnovers and several penalties that took away potential big plays. Quarterback Quinton Scholer hit Frank Hill for a 11-yard touchdown with 6:40 to go, but other than that and a 23-yard Ryan Persick field goal in the first half, that was it.
This play with roughly three minutes left sums this game up perfectly. Hill caught a Scholer pass deep inside Washington territory, but aggressive sophomore defensive back Isaiah Nimmers literally ripped the ball away from Hill as the two fell to the turf.
Fumble recoverery Washington. Taking away the game.
Perhaps this is the best thing that could have happened to a Xavier team that has pressure on it after a run to the 4A state championship game last season. Time for the Saints to unexpectedly pick up the pieces and move on.
“That’s what we told our kids after the game,” Schulte said. “You can take this and learn from it. You can forget about this loss, or you can let it bother you. It’s a big moment for our guys this weekend and how they show up on Monday and next week.”
Here is the game boxscore:
CR Wash. 26, CR Xavier 10
AT SAINTS FIELD
|TEAM STATISTICS||CR Wash.||CR Xavier|
|Rushes-yards||41 - 73||31 - 110|
|Comp-Att-Int||12 - 16 - 1||13 - 19 - 1|
|Fumbles-lost||0 - 0||5 - 2|
|Punts-average||4 - 25.0||5 - 33.2|
|Penalties-yards||10 - 76||10 - 115|
Rushing: CR Wash. – Reid Snitker 18-65 , Johnny Dobbs 11-11 , Masen Taylor 7-10 , Connor Vincent 1--3 , Team 3--6 CR Xavier – Brendan Miller 12-52 , Miles Sullivan 2-31 , Wes Gardner 4-19 , Bryce Grimm 1-14 , Jay Kortemeyer 3-7 , Quinton Scholer 7--2 , -
Passing: CR Wash. – Reid Snitker 12-16-1-221 CR Xavier – Quinton Scholer 13-19-1-89
Receiving: CR Wash. – Clayton Bjornsen 3-100 , Landen Akers 4-59 , Isaiah Nimmers 4-59 CR Xavier – Frank Hill 4-36 , Bryce Grimm 5-33 , Joe Welch 1-12 , Daniel Vega 1-5 , Jay Kortemeyer 1-3
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CRW-Clayton Bjornsen 30 pass from Reid Snitker (Joseph Lenzen kick)
CRW-Bjornsen 33 pass from Snitker (Lenzen kick)
CRX-Ryan Persick 23 FG
CRW-Landen Akers 13 pass from Snitker (kick blocked)
CRW-Snitker 13 run (kick failed)
CRX-Frank Hill 11 pass from Quinton Scholer (Persick kick)