MARION — The accuracy wasn’t there all the time. But when Noah Vawter connected with his receivers, big things happened.
Vawter hit Kyler Bell for two touchdowns and located Trenton Kuennen for two more as Cedar Rapids Jefferson held off Linn-Mar, 27-20, in a Class 4A non-district football game Friday night at Linn-Mar Stadium.
“Kyler and Trenton, they’re great athletes,” Vawter said. “I like to get the ball to them.
“That first win, it feels great. Hopefully, there’s many more to come.”
Vawter completed just 8 of 20 passes, but those eight completions went for 238 yards. That included a 91-yarder to Bell that started the scoring.
Both of Bell’s receptions went for touchdowns. Ditto Kuennen. And that was enough for the J-Hawks (1-2), who built a 20-point third-quarter lead and hung on.
“We felt like we left some points on the board, but our defense played extremely well,” J-Hawks Coach Brian Webb said. “We have a lot of two-way players, and they just fought and fought.”
Linn-Mar slipped to 0-3 in Paul James’ first season. The Lions scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns, the last of which was a 6-yard pass from Trot Carey to Alexander Hess with 1:11 left.
But the J-Hawks recovered the onside kick and killed the clock.
Hess rushed for 127 yards for the Lions.
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In a first half that featured six turnovers (three apiece), it was a pair of big-play passes from Vawter to Bell than spelled the difference in a 20-7 Jefferson lead.
Three plays after Bell intercepted a pass at the Jefferson 15, he caught a third-and-16 bomb in stride and took it 91 yards for the first touchdown of the game.
“He ran a great route,” Vawter said. “The linebacker came up, and he went right past him.”
Linn-Mar turned it over on its first play of the following drive, leading to an 18-yard connection from Vawter to Kuennen for a 14-0 Jefferson advantage.
The Lions capitalized on a gift of their own late in the half, getting an interception from Dan Coughlin that set up a 5-yard scoring run for Ben Delagardelle.
The teams traded punts, with Jefferson taking over at its own 47 with 18 seconds left before the half. After an incompletion, Vawter located Bell on a harmless-looking slip screen. But Bell leapt over a defender, slipped a tackle and raced down the sideline for a 53-yard touchdown as the horn sounded. The PAT failed, leaving the J-Hawks with a 13-point lead at intermission.
Vawter’s 37-yard TD pass to Kuennen made it 27-7 midway through the third quarter.
Both teams wrap up their pre-district campaign next week at Kingston Stadium. Linn-Mar faces Cedar Rapids Washington on Thursday; Jefferson tangles with Cedar Rapids Kennedy on Friday.
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