116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Wild start. Dominant finish.
Linn-Mar needed just 14 seconds to grab its first lead and controlled the last 14 minutes to maintain it.
Both teams exchanged kickoff returns for touchdowns to open the game, but the Lions closed with the final three scores of the game to upend Class 4A No. 9 Cedar Rapids Washington, 30-12, Thursday night at Kingston Stadium. Both teams move to 2-2.
“We struggled to move the ball at times, but our offense really responded,” Linn-Mar Coach Tim Lovell said. “Our defense made some good stops, got a turnover and our special teams made a difference.”
Special teams made a big impact, accounting for half of the Lions’ four TDs. T.J. Jackson provided the first spark, teaming with the Warriors’ Michael Blank for 13 points before either offense took the field.
Jackson hauled in the game’s first kick, found a lane before cutting across field and bolting for a 90-yard TD. He entered Week 4 with a 33-yard return average, but broke his first against the Warriors.
“I wanted to break one so bad,” Jackson said. “I really wanted that. It was good to set the tone.”
Interestingly, the return was set up to go to another Lion lined up deep to Jackson’s left. When he fielded it at the 10, he was too far upfield and close to the sideline to run the original play. Jackson took advantage of the opportunity.
“I saw this wide-open gap,” Jackson said. “I saw the kicker adjusting his helmet, like he wasn’t ready, so I was like I’m going to turn left and I was gone.”
Washington answered with Blank’s 80-yard return, but the point-after attempt failed, resulting in Linn-Mar’s 7-6 lead 29 seconds into the game. The only other first-half score was a 22-yard field goal from Mitchell Frahm, which gave Linn-Mar a 10-6 halftime lead.
The Warriors’ claimed their first lead with 4:26 remaining in the third. Stephen Cain hit a leaping Blank in the middle of the field. He pulled it down and out-ran defenders to the end zone, putting Washington ahead 12-10.
A key 66-second stretch that bridged the final two quarters allowed the Lions to pull away. Linn-Mar capitalized on good field position with 2:17 left of the third. The Lions drove 54 yards on just four plays.
Quarterback Austin Waller capped the drive, hitting Tayden Ferguson for a 34-yard TD for a 16-12 advantage with just 12 seconds left before the fourth.
“I got backside pressure and I tried making a play,” Waller said. “I got outside and my teammates are good enough to turn around, know that I’m going the opposite way they’re running, turn and make a play.
“Honestly, it’s on them. I just delivered a good ball and they made a better play. It was great.”
Linn-Mar’s defense was stout most of the game and forced a punt about a minute later. An errant snap ended up near the Warriors’ 1. Linn-Mar’s Sam Watts and Keaton Roskop challenged for the recovery. Watts corralled it in the end zone.
“It just kind of played out,” said Watts, who had at least two sacks. “We had seen that they had high snaps before. I was like we have to take advantage of it. Keaton was flying downfield and laid the punter out. He couldn’t pick the ball up and it was lying right there, so I just grabbed it.”
The Lions owned their biggest lead of the game with a little more than 11 minutes left. The sideline was more enthusiastic and confidence grew. Linn-Mar didn’t allow a first down and outgained Washington, 70-19, in yardage the rest of the way.
“It was tremendous,” Watts said. “You could tell there was a lack of momentum throughout the game. Once you had those events everybody got high energy. Momentum started to build and we built off of it.”
The Lions finished with 173 rushing yards, including 83 on 12 carries from Carter Henderson, who sealed the victory with an 11-yard TD run inside the final two minutes. More than 120 of those yards came in the second half, following Lovell’s locker-room message for the offense to play tougher and execute better.
“It was the half we wanted for the whole game,” Lovell said. “Give them a lot of credit. They fought really hard. I’m really proud of our football team, right now.”
Washington passed for 171 total yards, including 145 by Cain. Blank was a bright spot for the Warriors, producing both of their touchdowns. He finished with a game-high 96 receiving yards on seven catches.
“He’s a dude. Mikey’s a war daddy,” Washington Coach Maurice Blue said. “He’s come a long way in the return game. He’s pretty fearless.”
Linn-Mar 30, Cedar Rapids Washington 12
AT KINGSTON STADIUM
First Downs 12 12
Rushes-yards 33-173 34-29
Passing yards 72 171
Comp-att-int 8-14-0 17-32-1
Total yards 245 200
Fumbles-lost 4-3 4-3
Punts-avg. 3-33.7 6-28.2
Penalties-yards 2-28 4-26
Linn-Mar 7 3 6 14 -- 30
C.R. Washington 6 0 6 0 -- 12
LM – T.J. Jackson 90 kickoff return (Mitchell Frahm kick)
CRW – Michael Blank 80 kickoff return (kick failed)
LM – FG Frahm 22
CRW – Michael Blank 51 pass from Stephen Cain (rush failed)
LM – Tayden Ferguson 34 pass from Austin Waller (rush failed)
LM – Sam Watts 0 fumble recovery (Frahm kick)
LM – Carter Henderson 11 run (Frahm kick)
RUSHING – Linn-Mar: Carter Henderson 12-83, Jackson Severson 10-53, Austin Waller 8-26, T.J. Jackson 1-15, Emerson Gasper 1-(-2), Team 1-(-2). C.R. Washington: Watts McBride 17-53, Caden Stock 3-13, Alex Taylor 5-7, Aaron Butikofer 1-7, Malik Epps-Keller 2-1, Michael Blank 0-1, Stephen Cain 3-(-18), Team 2-(-34).
PASSING – Linn-Mar: Waller 8-14-0-72. C.R. Washington: Cain 12-18-1-145, Epps-Keller 5-14-0-26.
RECEIVING – Linn-Mar: Tayden Ferguson 1-34, Dylan Muszynski 2-19, Keaton Roskop 2-11, Henderson 1-8, T.J. Jackson 2-0. C.R. Washington: Michael Blank 7-96, Brock Davis 4-38, Leighton Charters 2-15, McBride 3-11, Stock 1-11.