IOWA CITY — Count them in.
And mark them in with pen, not pencil.
The Linn-Mar Lions exploded for five touchdowns in less than nine minutes in the second quarter, and poured it on from there Friday night at Bates Field. A 62-14 rout of Iowa City High clinched the Class 4A District 4 football title — and an automatic berth to the 4A playoffs.
“It’s crazy to think about,” said Trey Martin, who scored three touchdowns, including one on a punt return. “This has been a goal since I’ve been on the varsity, and it’s great to see it come true.”
The Lions (6-2 overall, 4-0 district) have qualified for the first time since 2014, and they’ll play their first-round game at home Nov. 1 against an opponent to be determined.
Linn-Mar’s road became smoother Thursday, when Davenport North defeated Pleasant Valley, 31-14. Now, the Lions are champions regardless of the outcome of their Week 9 game at Pleasant Valley.
The Lions looked far less than championship-worthy early. After Martin’s 52-yard punt return for a touchdown, the Lions turned the ball over twice and were called for two unsportsmanlike penalties. City High (2-6, 1-3) capitalized with a pair of touchdowns for a 14-7 lead.
It didn’t last. Once the Lions woke up, there was no stopping them. No slowing them down, even.
“The defense picked it up for us in the second quarter, and we started clicking,” Lions Coach Paul James said. “We were able to find some places we could attack.”
Lots of places.
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After managing just 11 yards in the first quarter, Linn-Mar erupted for 273 in the second. That turned the game on its ear, and the Lions went into intermission in front, 42-14.
Bricen White scored the game-tying touchdown on a 7-yard run, then left the game with an injury.
He didn’t return in the first half, but the deluge continued anyway. Marcus Orr’s 11-yard run put the Lions in front, 21-14, then Cameron Walker — White’s backup — got loose for touchdown runs of 38 and 9 yards.
Orr’s 19-yard TD pass to Martin capped the onslaught with 35 seconds left in the half, then the duo hooked up again for 73 yards less than a minute into the third quarter.
Clayton Muszynski’s 60-yard return of an interception accounted for the final tally.
“When we got down early, the seniors motivated us and told us it was their fault,” Muszynski said. “(On the interception), I read it perfectly and ran it back. (The officials) didn’t call it a touchdown right away, but they finally did and we were able to celebrate.”
Orr passed for 253 yards, and the Lions finished with 494 yards of total offense. Both teams turned it over four times.
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