MARION — Steady and efficient worked very well for the Linn-Mar football team Friday night.
The Lions had only three first-half possessions, going on long drives and scoring on each to grab a 21-0 halftime lead and went on to a convincing 35-19 Class 4A District 4 win over Muscatine on a cold, blustery night at Linn-Mar Stadium.
Linn-Mar (5-2, 3-0) clinched its first winning season since 2014 and moved one step closer to a district title and the school’s first playoff berth since 2015.
“I thought we came out and were very methodical tonight in what we did, especially offensively,” Lions Coach Paul James said. “The defense did what it needed to do and got better in the third quarter.”
Linn-Mar has won all three games since getting senior quarterback Marcus Orr back from a shoulder injury. He had another strong performance in tough conditions, completing 19 of 25 passes for 219 yards and four touchdowns.
“He’s doing a real good job of taking care of himself on the field,” James said. “He’ll slide or run out of bounds to not put himself in a position to get injured again.”
Orr completed passes to nine different receivers. His top target, senior Will Zahradnik caught six for 57 yards and two scores, but eight others had at least one catch.
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“I didn’t have any idea that many different guys caught passes,” Orr said. “They all do a really good job, so I don’t have a favorite one.”
The Lions quarterback downplayed his return, crediting all of his teammates for Linn-Mar’s surge during district play.
“I mean, I can’t do it without them,” he said. “I am just one of the 11 out there. They have to do their job and I have to do mine. It is really working well right now.”
Gabe Guerrero and Andrew Knipper also caught scoring passes from Orr. Bricen White, who rushed for 113 yards on 18 carries, added a 40-yard run. Linn-Mar led 35-0 until midway through the fourth quarter before the Muskies broke through against the Lion reserves for 19 unanswered points.
The Lions can clinch at least a tie for the district title a win next Friday night at Iowa City High. Muscatine will host Iowa City West.
“We have a tough test next week,” James said. “Iowa City High always plays Linn-Mar tough, especially on their field. We’ll have to be ready to go.”