MARION, Iowa - Everyone expected a hard fought, exciting and memorable football battle when Linn-Mar hosted Cedar Rapids Washington. That's exactly what the Warriors and Lions delivered.
In a wild, seesaw affair, the sixth-ranked Lions won a thriller over No. 10 Washington, forcing and recovering a Warrior fumble on the goalline in the first overtime for a 42-35 victory in a Mississippi Valley Conference battle at Armstrong Field.
Washington faced a 1st-and-5 after a Linn-Mar encroachment penalty to start the Warriors first possession in overtime. As Washington running back fought for the score the ball came out and Brandon Allen grabbed possession of the ball, ending the game and keeping the Lions unbeaten at 7-0.
The Lions needed just two plays to take the lead after regulation. Atwater hit Garman for a 5-yard pass, setting up Garman's 5-yard TD run around the right end, giving the Lions the decisive lead. It also pushed the senior over the 4,000-yard mark for his career, giving him 4,038 rushing yards in three seasons.
Linn-Mar forced overtime when quarterback Mark Atwater forced overtime with beautiful 16-yard touchdown strike to Aaron Hunter, tying it at 35. Atwater rolled right and threw on the run, leading Hunter to the end zone.
Atwater was impressive in the game, completing 13-of-19 passes for 189 yards and four TDs. He even added a 1-yard TD run.
The Lions defense was key in the game, shutting Washington out in the second quarter and forcing three fumbles for turnovers.
The action was fast and furious in the first half with the teams alternating momentum. Washington struck quickly, taking an advantage on a 77-yard, 6-play drive that was capped by Alex Carr running behind the offensive line's surge for a 3-yard touchdown run.
After holding the Lions to a 3-and-out, brandon besong caught a Linn-Mar punt on the Warriors 22, sprinted up the sideline and made a strong cut left to the center of the field for a 78-yard punt return to make it 14-0 less than five minutes in the game.
That lead grew to 21-0 when Carr sprinted to the corner of the end zone from 12 yards out on the fifth play of the next possession.
The Lions had enough and gained control, clawing back to own a 22-21 lead at the half. After giving up the third TD, Lions returned to the kickoff to the Washington 37. Atwater hit Josh Montague on a nice play-action pass from 15 yards out to make it 21-7 in the first. Garman set up the score with two runs, including a 22-yard rush.
Linn-Mar's defense came up big, shutting down the Warriors, containing Carr and capitalizing on some Warriors miscues. A fumbled snap on a punt gave Linn-Mar the ball on the Washington 30. Six plays later Atwater plunged in on a QB sneak to pull within 21-13 when the PAT was blocked.
The lead shrunk to 21-16 when Michael Zimmerman kicked a 30-yard field goal after the Lions forced a Carr fumble and recovered at their own 45. Then Atwater struck again, hitting Mason Krusie on a 41-yard TD strike on a 3-and-10. The score put Linn-Mar up with 1:29 to go in the second quarter.
Washington found its way back to the end zone in the third when Carr helped the Warriors regain the lead on a 6-yard run up the middle, diving for the goalline with the ball stretched out.
Atwater answered on the first play of the fourth quarter, hitting Krusie again on a 38-yard TD to put the Lions up 29-28. Krusie had 102 yards receiving on three catches.
Carr came through again with the Warriors down on a similar play, but scoring from 10 yards out. Washington led 35-29 with 4:10 in regulation.
Carr's effort didn't result in a win. He won the battle between the two star backs, however, rushing for 289 yards and four TDs. Garman 64 yards rushing and 18 receiving.
It was the second straight loss for the Warriors, who drop to 5-2.