MARION — Jace Hanna walked out of the locker room at Linn-Mar Stadium talking on his cell phone. He was discussing the game with a friend who left at half time. It was a quick conversation. He didn’t miss much.
Cedar Rapids Prairie hung 42 points on the board in the first half and went on to beat Linn-Marr 49-27 on Friday.
The halftime numbers read like a final game box score. Hanna: 200-plus yards, four touchdowns. Two of those scores went to Jarred Edmonds, who racked up 76 yards. Across the field, Demetrius Harper amassed 108 yards with a score.
Behind the trio leading the aerial attack, Mitch Christensen chewed up 105 yards and found the end zone twice.
“I think we started off games pretty well for the most part this season,” Prairie head coach Mike Morrissey said. “It’s been finishing them that we’ve struggled with at times.”
With the first-half cushion the Hawks established, even two botched attempts at onside kick recoveries and 24 unanswered points couldn’t make it a close game. The Prairie offense was just too much.
The yardage explosion started with a firecracker. Hanna’s first pass of the game went for negative yards, minus-4 to be exact, to Harper. The next pass he caught was a 10-yard slant that the senior transformed into an 80-yard score.
The next negative play for Prairie didn’t come until the third quarter.
After the negative start, Hanna completed 10 of 15 passes for 215 yards and four touchdowns — in the first half.
“The first drive we had our struggles, but after that, (the offensive line) gave me plenty of time,” Hanna said. “I made good throws, the wide receivers had some great catches, Jarred (Edmonds) had all his broken tackles in the touchdowns. Just credit all of them worked hard this week and it paid off.”
Hanna completed the only pass he attempted in the second half. It was a a 15 yard strike to Harper on 3rd and 15 to move the chains. Christensen carried the ball three times after the intermission for 10 yards. But that was it for the quartet of offensive weapons in the second half.
But points were going on the board in all varieties for Prarie on Friday.
Jesse Vizzini returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown made it 49-3 early in the third quarter. With that, the Hawks’ starters had the best seats in the house for the second half.
“I really think our defense was fundamentally sound tonight,” Morrissey said. “They did a really nice job. If we can play like that, we can be pretty good.”
While the Hawks’ offense could do no wrong in the first half, Linn-Mar couldn’t find the spark to get going.
Quarterback Rhys Davis had 21 yards passing in the first half. The Lions had just two first downs. It was a game at 7-3 but the Hawks ran off 35 straight points to head into the locker room up 42-3.
“You’ve got to give Prairie a lot of credit,” Linn-Mar head coach Bob Forsyth said. “They came out and did a really good job against us. Offensively, especially, they did a really nice job. The speed of the game was really high, and we just didn’t play very well.”
In the second half Linn-Mar recovered two onside kicks and outscored Prairie 24-0 to close the game.
Ross Lembeck wound up eclipsing the century mark on the ground for the Lions with 105 yards on 15 carries with a score. He caught a touchdown pass for 18 yards. On all three Linn-Mar scores, Lembeck ran for a two-point conversion.
Davis padded his numbers against Prairie reserves finishing with 104 yards passing. He carried the ball 10 more times in the second half to finish with 83 yards and a score.
“Our kids aren’t going to quit. We’re going to keep playing no matter what the circumstances are,” Forsyth said. “That’s a credit to our kids and the coaches and the way our assistant coaches coach them. Again I think Prairie just did a really good job of what they wanted to do tonight.”