Prep Football

Iowa City West takes 'a step forward' in win over Linn-Mar

No. 7-ranked Trojans dominate Lions, 41-7

MARION — Iowa City West Coach Garrett Hartwig challenged his players midway through a lackluster week of practice.

He wanted to see the Trojans perform closer to their potential. Those were words his players didn’t take lightly.

“We’ve been preaching it all season, but this week it really stuck with us,” West senior Landon Green said. “We really wanted to come out and show what we could do.”

Seventh-ranked West used a suffocating defense and big drives for a dominant 41-7 victory over Linn-Mar in a Class 4A District 4 prep football game Friday night at Linn-Mar Stadium.

West scored on five of six possessions sandwiching halftime and held the Lions to just three first downs the entire game.

“We had an up and down week of practice and they were challenged on Wednesday, specifically to become the team they are and can be,” Hartwig said. “Tonight, I think we took a step forward.

“We have a ways to go in some other areas, for sure. I’m very proud with the way they came out and performed.”

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West (5-1, 2-0) started a little slow, settling for a Josh Jasek 33-yard field goal on its opening possession and then squandered great field position. The Trojans started at the Lions’ 20 and fumbled the ball back and then were held to a three-and-out.

West found its groove in its final two possessions, including a 99-yard drive. The Trojans marched 14 plays and melted 6:11 off the clock. Marcus Morgan used his arm and legs to propel West, escaping defenders in the end zone and running 19 yards on the first play.

Morgan added runs of 15 and 23 yards and completed passes of 11 and two 7-yard gains. Peter Breitbach capped the series with three straight rushes, including an 8-yard TD for a 10-0 lead with 4:28 before halftime.

“To move down the field 99 yards, even with a holding penalty in there, that speaks to the focus and that is what it comes down to,” Hartwig said. “If we can learn to focus for a full drive, an entire quarter and eventually a full game we can do some good things.”

West’s defense made quick work to get the ball back. The Trojans covered 62 yards in 11 plays, ending in an Owen McAreavy 1-yard TD run for a 17-0 edge with 38 seconds left before halftime. Morgan connected on 18-yard gains to Cole Mabry and Justin Thomas.

“Those two drives are big because we sort of found our rhythm,” Morgan said. “We never stopped from there.”

Morgan threw a pair of TD passes in the third quarter. He connected with Jalen Gaudet for a 15-yard score and hit Justin Thomas in stride with a 61-yard TD pass, giving West a 41-0 lead and a continuous clock with more than 10 minutes remaining.

Morgan finished with 200 yards passing and 84 more on the ground. Thomas accounted for 100 yards receiving, while Gaudet had 70.

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“For me, it was just slowing down and settling down to feel the defense,” Morgan said. “Being able to see the field and make plays.”

West had a shutout until the final 44 seconds. Linn-Mar (1-4, 0-2) cracked the goose egg with its special teams. Bridger Aucutt scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 17 yards for the Lions’ lone score.

West travels to play Davenport North on Thursday at Brady Street Stadium. Linn-Mar heads to Muscatine on Friday.

l Comments: (319) 368-8679; kj.pilcher@thegazette.com

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