Prep Football

Linn-Mar weathers lightning delay to beat Cedar Rapids Jefferson

Lions intercept 4 passes in 14-6 road win

CEDAR RAPIDS — Linn-Mar running back Bricen White bided his time.

He didn’t get distracted and let his mind wander during about a 90-minute weather delay. Instead, he concentrated on what the Lions needed for the final eight minutes of the game when play resumed against Cedar Rapids Jefferson.

“I was sitting in the locker room silent as can be,” said White, a 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior. “I was focused on what we needed to do to get the offense started up and it helped.

“That delay was long and it sucked but we came out and did our job.”

White resembled the flashes of lightning that suspended play, streaking 77 yards for a touchdown to help seal the Lions’ 14-6 victory over the J-Hawks Thursday night at Kingston Stadium. Linn-Mar improved to 2-1, which is the best start under head coach Paul James and the best through Week 3 since a 3-0 mark in 2014.

“I liked our focus in a lot of areas,” James said. “We made improvements in our kicking game, which we had some miscues a week ago. Defensively, especially, they were focused from the get-go.”

Linn-Mar’s big strike came on its first series after the delay. After the defense thwarted a J-Hawk drive near midfield, the Lions took over at their own 15 with 4:15 left, clinging to a 7-6 lead.

After two modest rush gains and a Jefferson timeout, White broke his third straight rush for the game’s longest play. Linn-Mar’s line picked up the right-side blitz and White slipped through the first level of defense, dashing down the sideline. A Jefferson defender was gaining on White, but wide receiver Cam Guenther’s downfield block sprang him for his second score of the game.

“I was just following my pulling guard,” White said. “I saw him get a nice block, saw the opening and just took advantage of it. My teammate made a great block downfield to jar me loose.”

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White had a 31-yard screen pass earlier in the game and finished with 184 total yards, including 151 rushing. His 2-yard TD gave Linn-Mar a 7-0 lead with 2:42 left in the opening quarter.

“It came at a great time,” James said. “We haven’t seen Bricen break through for a long run this year. He had the screen pass earlier and had that run.”

Linn-Mar’s defense stifled Jefferson’s rush attack and made the pass game almost non-existent. The Lions held Jefferson to 61 total yards, including 12 passing on four receptions. Linn-Mar picked off four passes, getting two from Jeron Senters, which helped set up the first score.

“They read their keys,” James said. “They flew to the ball. They tackled very well, for the most part. We used a little of our quickness there at the end to get some sacks and pressure on the quarterback when they were throwing. Just a real good performance from our defense.”

“(The secondary) reacted very well to the ball in the air and routes that were being run.”

Linn-Mar played without starting quarterback Marcus Orr. He suffered an injury during the Week 2 loss to Cedar Rapids Kennedy. James said he is likely to return in the next few weeks.

Jefferson (1-2) scored its lone touchdown in the second quarter. Ezeki Leggins hauled in an errant pass from Andrew Knipper. On the very next play, Leggins ran off right tackle and turned up through a wide running lane, bolting 23 yards untouched for a TD. The Lions blocked the extra-point attempt to maintain a 7-6 lead with 10:53 to go before halftime.

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

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