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Linn-Mar powers past Iowa City Liberty, 25-15
Carter Henderson rushes for 128 yards and two TDs, Lions defense force four turnovers
MARION — Linn-Mar Coach Tim Lovell considers himself an old-fashioned football coach.
He likes a physical game, pounding the rock and a fast, tough defense that hunts for the ball. The Lions gave him just what he likes.
Linn-Mar rushed for three touchdowns, including two in the second quarter, and forced five turnovers in a 25-15 victory over Iowa City Liberty Friday night in a consistent mist at Lions Stadium.
“We preach defense,” Lovell said. “We preach playing fast and physical, playing free without thinking and running the ball,” Lovell said. “That’s just good old-fashioned football.
“We were fortunate to come out with the win. That’s a good football team.”
Things started rough. Liberty pressured McCade Jelinek for much of the game. The Lightning’s rush sacked Jelinek for two straight plays, tackling him for a 9-yard loss and safety to lead 2-0 with 3:40 left in the first.
Linn-Mar (2-0) started to take control in the second, producing two quick scores for a lead it didn’t surrender.
Henderson gave the Lions their first lead with a 14-yard pinball-type TD run, breaking tackles and bouncing off defenders.
The turnovers began to make an impact. Linn-Mar recovered a fumble on the Lightning’s first play of the ensuing possession.
Four plays later, the Lions turned it into points with Sage Holmes’ 8-yard TD run off the left end. The conversion pass was good to make it 15-2.
The Lightning (0-2) aired it out to find the end zone. Tye Hughes connected with Ja’Quez Hall, who busted out of a defender’s arm tackle to finish the 50-yard scoring strike. The TD was set up by a 24-yard pass from Hughes to Amari Thigpen on third-and-10.
As time wound down in the first half, Liberty decided to run the ball, instead of kneel. It led to a fumble that Andrew Knipper pounced on with nine seconds to go.
Jelinek hit Knipper for a 24-yard pass to the 5. Micah Baumhoefener hit a 22-yard field goal as time expired to cap the three-score quarter and post an 18-8 halftime lead.
“The one right before half was huge,” Lovell said. “We were able to get it down to make it a chip-shot field goal.“
The teams exchanged scores in the third quarter. Henderson capped a 23-yard drive set up by a 24-yard sack to the Lightning 1 and a short punt. He scored on a 6-yard run to make it 25-8 with 6:22 in the third.
Henderson was a workhorse for the Lions. The 6-foot, 190-pound running back finished with 28 carries for 128 yards. He ran 10 times for 50 yards in a fourth-quarter drive that melted almost eight minutes off the clock.
“He’s a quiet kid that just smiles and runs you over,” Lovell said of Henderson. “He doesn’t say a lot.
“He assumed the role of the starter. He is 1A and 1B. He’s our guy and we love to ride him. He showed tonight why he’s the guy. He’s physical, he’s carrying guys. I give our offensive line a lot of credit.”
Jeliniek passed for 103 yards, including 46 to Cam Guenther and 41 to Knipper. T.J. Jackson added 59 yards on the ground for Linn-Mar.
Liberty drove deep into Lions territory in the fourth, but Linn-Mar thwarted both series with the last two turnovers. Knipper grabbed his second fumble recovery of the game when the Lightning reached the Lions 18. Guenther’s interception stalled a drive at the Lions’ 7.
Hughes did pass for 244 yards and two TDs, including a 19-yarder to Griffin Kraft.
Lovell said this was an opportunity to play against a hard-nosed opponent and fight through adversity.
“We had a lot of it,” Lovell said. “It would have been easy for us to fold as well. The guys hung together. I’m proud of them.
“We’re excited for this win. It was stressful until the end, but it was great.”
First Downs 10 12
Rushes-Yds 27-28 47-191
Pass Yds 244 103
Comp-Att-Int 14-31-2 6-15-3
Total Yds 272 294
Fumbles-Lost 4-3 1-1
Punts-Avg. 4-34.0 3-36.3
Penalties-Yds 7-76 8-73
I.C. LIBERTY 2 6 7 0—15
LINN-MAR 0 18 7 0—25
RUSHING – I.C. Liberty: Darius Willis-Newell 13-17, Luke Meyers 1-6, Jacob Adam 1-4, Team 3-2, Tye Hughes 9-(-1). Linn-Mar: Carter Henderson 28-128, T.J. Jackson 6-59, Sage Holmes 4-39, Team 2-(-2), McKade Jelinek 7-(-33).
PASSING – I.C. Liberty: Hughes 14-31-2-244. Linn-Mar: Jelinek 6-14-3-103, Team 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING – I.C. Liberty: Meyers 4-75, James McKinney 3-50, Ja’Quez Hall 1-50, Amari Thigpen 1-24, Griffin Kraft 2-23, Willis-Newell 2-19, Garrett Gregoire 1-3. Linn-Mar: Cam Guenther 2-46, Andrew Knipper 2-41, Tayden Ferguson 1-9, Clayton Muszynski 1-7.
ICL – Team safety
LM – Henderson 14 run (Micah Baumhoefener kick)
LM – Holmes 8 run (Jelinek pass to Guenther)
ICL – Ja’Quez Hall 50 pass from Hughes (kick failed)
LM – FG Baumhoefener 22
LM – Henderson 5 run (Baumhoefener kick)
ICL – Kraft 19 pass from Hughes (Emerson Bennett kick)