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Iowa high school football rewind: An Independence Hail Mary is answered
Josh Beatty’s catch of a deflected pass by quarterback Mitch Johnson on the final play of the game is a 51-yard touchdown that gave the Mustangs a 13-7 win Friday night over Clear Creek Amana
CEDAR RAPIDS — There’s no cute name in the playbook for the play the Independence football team ran with four seconds left in its game Friday night against Clear Creek Amana.
It’s name is exactly what it is.
“We just call it ‘Hail Mary,’” Coach Justin Putz said.
Call it a winner, too. Mitch Johnson’s 51-yard completion to Josh Beatty on the final play gave Indee a 13-7 win at home.
Johnston wound up and let it fly from his own 45-yard line to the right front side of the end zone. Independence’s Brady Kurt and a CCA defender simultaneously tipped the jump ball, with it winding up behind them and directly into Beatty’s hands at the 2.
He dove into the end zone. Ballgame.
“It’s on our Thursday script every week. The pregame practice that we work,” Putz said. “Trips on one side, try to get down to the end zone. The most important thing is to get the ball off, give yourself a chance. We run a trailer down, that ball gets batted forward quite a bit on that. We want somebody in front of that pile.
“Josh Beatty was there. He caught the ball in front of that pile and got into the end zone.”
It was the very first varsity catch for Beatty, a 5-foot-10, 135-pound junior.
“I don’t know, that was a pretty good one to start on,” Beatty said. “Coach called my name, I walked out there for stacks (formation). Just run to the corner of the end zone and look up for the ball. Try to tip it up, try to go get it somehow, come down with it. We practice it every week ... I was just like ‘Holy cow, that actually just happened. We won.’”
Independence actually got its final chance after an interception. It called timeout for one final play, then Clear Creek Amana countered with one of its own.
“Stuff started building up,” Johnson said. “We went out there and just said ‘Run deep.’ They brought about four guys, and two of them came off the right side. So I kind of stepped up in the pocket a little bit, and then I just let it fly.”
Independence (2-1) lost its opener two weeks ago at Davenport Assumption when Johnson was out with a knee injury. It beat Maquoketa last week.
Then there was this.
“Obviously Mitch Johnson has a big arm for us. He can throw it 60,” Putz said. “To get a legitimate Hail Mary from 51 yards, with your guy down there, and to get it executed, I’ve never really seen it at this level.”
No locker room, no problem for North Linn
North Linn upset Class A sixth-ranked East Buchanan, 14-6.
Quarterback Tate Haughenbury threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns. Cael Bridgewater had eight receptions for 103 yards and a TD.
This has not been the easiest time for the Lynx (1-1), who lost their opener last week to Alburnett. Both of their games have been at home, which has been an improvised home.
The state DNR has closed the elementary, middle school and high school buildings for asbestos cleanup following an HVAC system replacement, meaning students have not had classes, yet. Fall athletes have been unable to access locker rooms, etc.
“It’s been a struggle,” said Coach Jared Collum. “Our team meal has been at the baseball (field) concession stand, we get dressed in the bus barn. Yeah, it’s different. but the kids have done a great job adjusting to it. We try to make it as normal as possible.”
Collum pointed out how his players haven’t had access to their locker room all summer. They were able to get into the school’s weight room for a while.
“They throw their stuff in their cars, a lot of them come to practice dressed with their pants on,” he said. “They put their shoulder pads on in the parking lot. It is what it is, man. You’ve got to overcome, right?”
Week 2 tidbits
— West Central recently honored its 1997 state championship team and announced its football field has been named Steve Milder Field, after longtime head coach Steve Milder.
Milder is in his 51st season. West Central beat Woodbine in the 1997 Class A title game, 29-8.
This Blue Devils team is 3-0 after a 54-22 win Friday night over Janesville. Brandon Cushion rushed 23 times for 237 yards and six touchdowns. It’s the first time West Central has won its first three games since 2009.
— Another week, another score-a-thon for Iowa Valley. But this one was a victory.
The Tigers knocked off No. 10 Winfield-Mount Union, 68-52, behind a mammoth individual performance from quarterback Evan Kearney. The senior accounted for nine touchdowns, rushing for six on 302 yards and throwing for three on 150 yards.
Iowa Valley lost last week to BGM, 78-74, despite nine Kearney TDs: six passing and three rushing.
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