MARION — Liberty High dropped to 0-2 on the season Friday, Sept. 3 as the Class 5A Linn-Mar Lions roared for a 25-15 win over the 4A Lightning in a non-district game at Linn-Mar.
The Bolts picked up a pair of morale boosts late in the first quarter in the form of sacking Lions’ quarterback McKade Jelinek in the end zone for a two-point safety, and Wyatt Williams picking off a Jelinek pass (and scampering 16 yards with it). The quarter ended with Liberty up 2-0. Luke Meyers made the first of two interceptions on the night with 9:37 left in the half. Unfortunately, the ensuing Liberty drive went three and out. Linn-Mar struck its first blow with 6:55 remaining with a 14-yard carry for a Lions touchdown. With the extra point the Lions went ahead 7-2.
Disaster befell Liberty’s first play following the touchdown as a fumble returned the ball to the Lions and gave Linn-Mar first and 10 on the Bolts’ 26-yard line. A short drive culminating in a seven-yard run led to Linn-Mar’s second touchdown while a successful two-point conversion play gave them a 15-2 advantage.
With the half quickly winding down, quarterback Ty Hughes connected with Ja’Quez Hall for a Liberty High touchdown making it 15-8 with 2:22 until halftime. The half ended in controversy after the Lions recovered a Liberty fumble deep in Bolt territory with mere seconds left to play. The Lions were in scoring position as time ran out, however despite protests from Liberty’s coaching staff, the referees’ put three seconds back onto the clock, which was time enough for the Lions to drill a field goal through the uprights for an 18-8 lead at the break.
Liberty’s woes continued in the third quarter as the opening drive of the period saw a fumble, which was ultimately recovered by the Bolts on their own one-yard line. With fourth down and long, Liberty was forced to punt the ball away, setting up the Lions with good field position and a quick drive to a five-yard touchdown run for a 25-8 lead with 6:22 left in the quarter.
Liberty’s fortunes began to turn around late in the period as Hughes connected with Griffin Kraft for the Bolts’ second touchdown of the night with 3:06 remaining in the quarter. Emerson Bennett nailed the point after kick, and Liberty trailed 25-15.
Meyers got his second interception in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter putting Liberty on the Lions’ 25-yard line. A Hughes pass to the end zone was intercepted, but a penalty on the Lions led to a do-over. Again though, Hughes’ pass was picked off.
Hughes completed 15 of 29 passes on the night for 231 yards and both touchdowns. Darius Willis-Newell made 14 carries for 22 yards, Hughes kept the ball five times and scampered for 29. Meyers caught three of Hughes’ passes for 58 yards, Hall took two a total of 57 yards, and James McKinney caught three for 40. Willis-Newell made a team-high 8-1/2 tackles with four solos and 1 1/2 sacks, Kraft made 7-1/2 with four solos as well.
The Bolts welcome the Bobcats from Western Dubuque, Epworth on Friday, Sept. 10, with the sophomore game scheduled for 5 p.m. and the varsity to follow around 7:30 p.m. Clear Creek Amana, who joined the 4A ranks this season, will visit on Friday, Sept. 17 in a non-district renewal of the “Boats vs. Bolts” rivalry.
Linn-Mar 25, Liberty High 15
Passing — Ty Hughes 15-29-231-2-2
Rushing — Darius Willis-Newell 14-22-0, Hughes 5-29-0, Jacob Adam 1-5-0, Luke Meyers 2-3-0
Receiving — Meyers 3-58-0, Ja’Quez Hall 2-57-1, James McKinney 3-40-0, Griffin Kraft 2-27-1, Amari Thigpen 1-24-0, Willis-Newell 3-22-0, Garrett Gregoire 1-3-0
Defense — Willis-Newell 8.5-4-1.5-3.5, Kraft 7.5-4-0-0, Christian Barney 7.0-2-0-1, Mason Koller 6.0-3-1-1, Adam 6.0-4-0-0, Gabe Frausto 3.5-2-0-0, Anthony Peoples 2.0-1-0.5-1, Dantrell Skinner 2.0-1-0-0, Caden Yoerger 2.0-0-0-0, Meyers 1.5-1-0-0, Wyatt Williams 1.0-0-0-0, Trey Gregoire 1.0-1-0-0, David Brusegaard 1.0-0-0
Fumble recovery — Kraft 1-0
Interceptions — Meyers 2-16, Williams 1-16
Kick returns — Thigpen 3-38, Meyers 1-13
Punt returns — Meyers 1-22
Kicking — Emerson Bennett 3-109
Punting — Hayden Saul 4-135
Class 4A District 3 standings Burlington 2-0 0-0
Fort Madison 2-0 0-0
North Scott 2-0 0-0
Clinton 0-2 0-0
Liberty 0-2 0-0
Mount Pleasant 0-2 0-0