116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
VAN HORNE — Marcus Beatty on the carry.
That was the dominant and recurring theme on a cold, blustery night in the opening round of the Class 3A state football playoffs.
The explosive Beatty carried the ball on the game’s first 12 plays, setting the tone for No. 7 Independence’s 26-6 road win over No. 6 Benton Community on Friday night.
The 200-pound Beatty amassed a school-record 319 yards on 45 carries and three touchdowns as the Mustangs rolled up a huge edge in time of possession.
“We try to be balanced on offense, but we knew we were going to have to run it more with all the wind,” Beatty said. “My line blocked great and gave me the opportunity to make some big runs. They weren’t able to stop us early and I knew it could be a special night.”
Beatty surpassed the 2,000-yard rushing mark on the season as Independence reached the state quarterfinals for the first time.
“We started the game going into the wind and we knew we had to run it,” Independence head coach Justin Putz said. “Marcus did a tremendous job. We asked a lot of him and he really came through.”
The Mustangs improved to 9-1 and advance to play at No. 5 Humboldt (10-0) in the quarterfinals.
Benton (8-2), playing without injured starting quarterback Colin Buch, had its eight-game winning streak snapped.
Beatty collected 205 first-half yards on 29 carries, scoring on runs of 1 and 18 yards as Independence took a 13-0 halftime lead.
“Benton has a good team and we knew it would be a tough game,” Beatty said. “We just wanted to come in here and play our game. We have to stay focused and continue to execute like this moving forward.”
Beatty also excelled on defense, returning a fourth-quarter interception 35 yards to set up his team’s third score. Quarterback Mitchell Johnson connected with Keegan Schmitt on an 11-yard scoring pass.
Benton’s Jacob Brecht broke loose on a 41-yard run on his team’s first play, but the Bobcats stalled after that.
The Bobcats made a late charge, but came up short.
Benton hit a 29-yard scoring pass from Aidan Gallery to Aiden Harris before recovering an onside kick with six minutes left.
Beatty capped his remarkable night by zipping down the middle on a 47-yard scoring scamper.
“We need to keep playing this type of football,” Putz said. “We didn’t turn it over and we didn’t have a lot of penalties. And we did a good job on defense where we rallied to the ball. We do need to get back to being balanced on offense.”