MARION — Big plays early forced Linn-Mar to play from behind in its first-round Iowa high school football Class 4A playoff game with Bettendorf.
The Lions fell behind 14-0 before the game was three minutes old. They could never quite come all the way back, falling to the Bulldogs 42-14, Friday night at Linn-Mar Stadium.
With the win, No. 7 Bettendorf (8-2) earned a rematch with No. 2 Cedar Falls (10-0) in a quarterfinal game next Friday at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls. The Tigers advanced with an easy win over Dubuque Senior in their first-round game. Cedar Falls edged the Bulldogs, 35-32, during the regular season.
Linn-Mar, back in the playoffs for the first time since 2015, finishes at 6-4.
Bettendorf needed just three plays to score as Harrison Bey-Buie ripped off a 62-yard run through the middle of the Linn-Mar line. On the Lions’ first possession, quarterback Marcus Orr was hit from the blind side by Bettendorf cornerback Tyler Pate and fumbled on Linn-Mar’s third play. Kane Schmidt scooped it up and rambled in 17 yards for the score, giving Bettendorf a 14-0 lead just 2:30 into the contest.
“We did a good job answering their punches early,” said Linn-Mar Coach Paul James. “We had a couple of chances in the third quarter, but we just couldn’t get that score we needed.
Bettendorf rode the 1-2 punch of Bey-Buie and quarterback Joe Byrne. Bey-Buie rushed for 220 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns. Byrne carried just nine times, but racked up 151 yards and two scores. He was also 12-of-14 passing for 137 yards and a TD.
“We couldn’t find an answer to their running back and quarterback,” James said. “They are both outstanding players.”
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Linn-Mar’s offense scored twice in the first quarter on scoring passes from Marcus Orr to John Steffen (38 yards) and Trey Martin (25 yards). They were marching toward another score late in the half when Byrne picked off Orr in the end zone just before halftime.
“That was a big play,” James said. “We were hoping to get into the end zone and build some momentum going into halftime, getting it back to within one score. Then, hats off (to Bettendorf) for making adjustments in the second half and stopping us.”
Bettendorf’s defense made the Lions offense one-dimensional, holding them to just 29 yards on the ground, forcing Orr to beat them with his arm. The senior finished 24 of 42 for 277 yards, but only 60 of those after halftime.
James said the loss would sting his players for now, but said they should reflect back on the season with fond memories.
“(The players) set some goals and reached them,” he said. “They played to the best of their ability all season and that is all you can ask of any player. I’m proud of their effort and they should be as well.”