TROY MILLS — First they had to stabilize. Then they started to pulverize.
In the end, the North Linn Lynx dramatized. And won.
North Linn’s defense stopped a fourth-and-goal running attempt at the 2-yard line in the final 40 seconds to beat Class A third-ranked Edgewood-Colesburg, 20-16, in a fine prep football thriller.
Class 1A North Linn improved to 4-0 for just the third time in school history by rallying from an early 13-0 hole. Quarterback Austin Miller’s three touchdown runs provided the points for the Lynx, including a go-ahead 6-yard scoring run with 7:53 left.
“Credit our kids,” said North Linn Coach Jared Collum. “I thought our conditioning was absolutely excellent. I actually thought we wore them down with our run game once we got Austin Miller involved. Then (running back) Brennan Becker was just a horse tonight.”
After a punt, Ed-Co (3-1) took over the ball at midfield with 2:16 left. Quarterback Parker Rochford scrambled out of a pass rush on first down and hit receiver Spencer Staner deep down the sideline for 41 yards to the NL 9.
Staner had five receptions in the game for 140 yards.
Two runs by Keegan Hansel moved it to the 3, with a false-start penalty moving it back to the 8. Rochford rolled right for 6 yards to the 2, tackled out of bounds with 37.2 seconds remaining.
After a timeout by both teams, Hansel took a handoff and ran off left tackle but was stopped at the 1. Ballgame.
“We really didn’t have a clue what they would do,” said Miller, also a starting defensive back. “We pretty much just said that if they were packed up tight like they had been most of the game, we were going to pack it up right with them and hold our own. If they spread it out, we were just going to have to trust our inside seven to stop them if they ran it or our (defensive backs) if they went to their receivers.”
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“I (initially) was going to run something a little different, but the kids decided ‘Let’s just see what we can do. Let’s test our heart,’” said Ed-Co Coach James Rochford. “Which (was OK). This was not in district, was not in our class. If we get tested right now, and our kids bounce back, we’ll learn from this … We’ll be a better team.”
Ed-Co took a 13-0 lead a little over five minutes into the game on touchdown runs of 2 and 32 yards by Hansel. The junior back had 117 yards on 21 carries, though most of them came in the first quarter.
The Vikings seemed close to putting the game to bed after a Xavier Reeves fumble recovery on North Linn’s ensuing offensive series. Reeves had two fumble recoveries and an interception in the game.
Ed-Co had a first-and-10 at the 11 but didn’t score. The Vikings were held out of the end zone after its initial push and to just a field goal.
“Credit Ed-Co there for their fast start. They kind of punched us in the mouth,” Collum said. “A big part of that game really was early, when they had first-and-10 at our (11), and we ended up holding them. That was a big part of the game.”
North Linn drove for a touchdown in the second quarter, a Miller 1-yard sneak, making it a 13-7 at halftime. Walker Schulte’s 28-yard field goal put Ed-Co ahead by two scores, 16-7, early in the third quarter, but North Linn started pounding Miller and Becker rushing wise after that.
Miller’s 27-yard TD off a read-option play made it 16-13 going to the fourth. North Linn had 134 rushing yards in the second half.
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