Mid-Prairie has been unstoppable on opening drives this season, scoring four touchdowns in four games. Last Friday night Kayden Reinier plunged into the end zone for a touchdown that gave Mid-Prairie …
Mid-Prairie has been unstoppable on opening drives this season, scoring four touchdowns in four games. Last Friday night Kayden Reinier plunged into the end zone for a touchdown that gave Mid-Prairie an early 6-0 lead over Iowa City Liberty.
The rest of the game, however, was all Iowa City Liberty as the Lightning spoiled Mid-Prairie’s homecoming game 33-6 by rushing 53 times for a combined 345 yards.
“I just think our front five are pretty good and talented, but we ran into a buzzsaw tonight,” Mid-Prairie head coach Pete Cavanagh said. “That was a really good team. It is one of those situations where once they get running the ball it’s hard (to stop them).”
The Mid-Prairie defense found some success early, forcing the Bolts to go three-and-out and after a 29-yard punt the Golden Hawks took over near midfield. A Liberty offsides on the first play of the possession was followed up by a 23-yard rush from Reinier. Seeing the success of that, Mid-Prairie kept at it as Reinier rushed over the next three plays, plunging in on his fourth rush for a 15-yard touchdown. The extra-point attempt was no good, giving the Golden Hawks a 6-0 lead with 9:07 left in the first quarter.
Liberty answered seven players later with a 43-yard touchdown for Kaleb Williams as he rushed off tackle for the long gain. Williams was the leading rusher for Liberty with 128 yards on eight carries.
Before the end of the first quarter Liberty held a 14-6 lead.
The Liberty rushing offense was balanced between the speed of Williams with two bruisers in Jack Ankenbauer and Max Tafolla. Ankenbauer went for 95 yards on 16 carries and Tafolla 88 yards on 17 carries.
Mid-Prairie couldn’t find their rushing offense again after the first drive. Over their next five drives before halftime, the Golden Hawk offense accumulated 6 yards of offense on 22 plays.
“A little bit (puzzling), it’s like we exhaust everything on those first drives a little bit,” Cavanagh said. “...We just couldn’t get our legs underneath us.”
The Golden Hawks got the ball to start the second half and showed offensive promise. An 11-play, 42-yard drive included two third-down conversions and put Mid-Prairie inside the Liberty 30. The Golden Hawks faced fourth-and-6 from the 26-yard line and Brad Tornow’s pass attempt fell incomplete. It was the last time Mid-Prairie would possess the ball on Liberty’s side of the field.
Mid-Prairie’s defense did a better job of containing the Liberty offense to short gains in the second half, not giving up the big-play touchdowns they did in the first. After Liberty had set themselves up inside the Mid-Prairie 10, Kayden Reinier made a big stop on fourth down for a turnover on downs.
Justice Jones led the team with a season-high 12.5 tackles for Mid-Prairie.
The next Mid-Prairie possession ended after a mishap on a trick play. A backwards pass from Tornow to Zeb Danner was complete, but a Liberty defender tipped Danner’s pass at the line of scrimmage and it was intercepted.
The loss pushes Mid-Prairie to 2-2 on the season, but both losses have come against Class 3A opponents.
“We just have to improve, watch the film and be honest with ourselves,” Cavanagh said. “We feel like these are great challenges for us and we get better from this kind of stuff.”
Mid-Prairie opens district play with Central Lee next week. Central Lee has struggled this year, going 0-4 in non-district play and averages only 6.8 points per game while giving up 45 per game.