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MARION — It had been a long time between victories at Linn-Mar Stadium for Lions senior Isaiah Garman.
In his third season as a varsity starter, Garman hadn’t been part of a home win since the final home game of his sophomore season, a 26-13 triumph over Waterloo West.
That changed on Friday night in a big way. With Garman leading the way in the second half, Linn-Mar opened Class 4A, District 8 play with a hard-fought 35-21 win over Ottumwa.
It was also Paul James’ first first victory as Lions’ head coach after a successful run at Cedar Rapids Washington.
“It’s been a long time since I have been a part of a win on this field,” Garman said. “It was great to be able to celebrate it with all the students who have kept supporting us.”
Linn-Mar (1-4, 1-0) led 28-21 at halftime behind two scoring runs apiece from Alex Hess and Ben Delegardelle, but it was Garman who sealed the deal in the second half. Hess, a junior, had a huge game on the ground, running for 221 yards on 30 carries.
Garman scored the only touchdown of the final 24 minutes on a trap play that saw him go almost untouched for 49 yards midway through the third quarter. On defense, he came up with two key sacks and a fumble recovery to thwart an Ottumwa (0-5, 0-1) drive inside the Lion 20.
“We worked on that running play a lot in practice,” Garman said. “I have to give credit to the line. They did a great job of opening the hole. I don’t think I’ve scored a touchdown since I played in Metro Youth Football.”
James was clutching the game ball as he left the field as a winner for the first time as Lions’ coach.
“It took a little longer than we would have liked,” James said about getting his first win at Linn-Mar. “We were able to go back to basics and run the ball really well.”