CEDAR RAPIDS – The first words they heard from their head coach in the postgame huddle said it all.
“Oh, baby!” exclaimed Paul James, to whoops and hollers from his Cedar Rapids Washington Warriors.
Yeah, “Oh, baby!” With a little bit of “Are you kidding me?” thrown in there.
Seems these guys can’t do a thing without making it dramatic, and it doesn’t get more dramatic than Jacob Bjornsen’s 24-yard touchdown catch with 9.7 seconds left that gave them a 21-14 win over Cedar Rapids Prairie last night at John Wall Field.
Just add this to the list of almost bewildering victories for a club that has racked up five of them in a row. There was that stunning last-second rally past Waterloo West three weeks ago, that even more stunning upset of top-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier two weeks ago, a comeback last week against Cedar Rapids Jefferson.
And now this …
“Just some magnificent plays,” James said. “We’ve got some kids that are clutch performers. They never say die, they don’t want to lose. You can just see it in the way they play. I don’t think it’s necessarily coaching. It’s something they’re born with, their parents have instilled in them.”
Washington (5-3) tied this game early in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard quarterback keeper from Reid Snitker and two-point throw from Snitker to Bjornsen. Prairie (4-4) looked as if it would drive for a potential game-winning field goal in the closing seconds, but quarterback Trey Beckman was stopped inches short of a first down on a 4th-and-1 play at the Warrior 45.
“Our defense came up with a big stop,” Bjornsen said. “I saw we had 1:08 left on the clock, and I felt pretty confident we could put together a drive.”
Which they did. With 1:08 to work with, Snitker jitterbugged his way through and around a strong pass rush for a first down to the Prairie 41, then caught a huge break when his pass over the middle deflected off the fingertips of a leaping Prairie defender and to wide receiver Landen Akers at the Prairie 24 with 25 seconds remaining.
Instead of spiking the ball, Snitker took a shotgun snap and aired out a pass in the end zone to right slot receiver Bjornsen, with the 5-foot-8 senior leaping over a pair of Hawks defenders for the TD. He also squeaked home the extra point, and that was that.
Another miraculous win. Somehow Washington will win the Valley Division of the Mississippi Valley Conference if it beats Dubuque Wahlert next week.
“We had another play called beforehand, so when that (first) play was over, we wanted to line up quick and see if we could catch them on their toes. I think it worked out well,” Bjornsen said. “I just had my eyes on the ball. I was just hoping to get it. Turns out it was there.”
“I have so much trust in my receivers,” said Snitker, who completed 12 of 20 passes for 190 yards. “I know if I throw it up, either they are going to get it or nobody’s going to get it. Jake Bjornsen, it doesn’t matter how tall you are, it’s about the heart.”
Prairie took a 14-6 halftime lead on a Beckman TD run and 8-yard TD pass in the closing seconds of the second quarter to Kentrel Smith. Johnny Dobbs’ 2-yard run provided Washington’s first-half points.
“You know, it was tough starting out 0-3. Hard to keep the spirits up,” Bjornsen said. “But everyone kept working hard. Once we got rolling, I think we’re a good team. We’re going to be tough to beat.”
“That’s three amazing wins,” James said. “Two come from behind and then Xavier. A lot of people would have counted us out here. It was 14-6, we were not playing well at all … “
Perhaps by now, people have learned never to count out these Warriors.
Here is the game boxscore:
AT JOHN WALL FIELD
|TEAM STATISTICS||CR Wash.||CR Prairie|
|Rushes-yards||31 - 84||43 - 203|
|Comp-Att-Int||12 - 20 - 2||8 - 20 - 1|
|Fumbles-lost||0 - 0||0 - 0|
|Punts-average||3 - 40.7||3 - 36.3|
|Penalties-yards||6 - 30||5 - 35|
Rushing: CR Wash. – Reid Snitker 19-56 , Johnny Dobbs 9-25 , Mason Taylor 3-3 CR Prairie – Mitch Christensen 21-81 , Trey Beckman 14-66 , Jesse Vizzini 8-56
Passing: CR Wash. – Reid Snitker 12-20-2-190 CR Prairie – Trey Beckman 8-20-1-101
Receiving: CR Wash. – Isaiah Nimmers 3-84 , Connor Vincent 3-49 , Jacob Bjornsen 2-28 , Landen Akers 3-24 , Clayton Bjornsen 1-5 CR Prairie – Kentrel Smith 2-33 , Jomaryon Simpson 3-32 , Keagan Pinter 2-20 , Jesse Vizzini 1-16
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Prairie-Trey Beckman 7 run (Sam Drysdale kick)
Wash-Johnny Dobbs 2 run (kick blocked)
Prairie-Kentrel Smith 8 pass from Beckman (Drysdale kick)
Wash-Reid Snitker 3 run (Jacob Bjornsen pass from Snitker)
Wash-J. Bjornsen 24 pass from Snitker (J. Bjornsen kick)