CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - It wasn't the explosive offense that carried Linn-Mar in this one.
Instead, the Class 4A ninth-ranked Lions got stingy with Cedar Rapids Kennedy, holding off the Cougars, 17-11, in a Mississippi Valley Conference football game Thursday night at Kingston Stadium.
The Lions held Kennedy to 180 yards of total offense and moved to 2-0.
"We played really hard, and I'm happy with the result," said Tommy Feller, who collected a couple of sacks.
After a 9-2, division-championship season in 2009, Linn-Mar's days of sneaking up on folks are over. The Lions didn't flash-and-dash against the Cougars; instead, they gritted out a relatively difficult win.
"People are going to play hard against us every night," said Lions Coach Bob Forsyth. "Nobody's going to take us lightly any more."
Linn-Mar didn't trail all night, but victory wasn't secure until Andy Henry recovered an onside kick with 2:35 left and the Lions ran out the clock.
All-state running back Jer Garman ran for 137 yards on 19 carries. His 17-yard touchdown with 10:25 left gave the Lions a 17-8 lead.
Kennedy (0-2) drove to the Linn-Mar 14 on the next drive, but Aaron Hunter picked off a fourth-and-24 pass from Jed Haycraft intended for Division-I recruit Christian French near the goal line.
French is 6-foot-6, Hunter is "5-8 with my cleats on."
"He's tough to defend. He's a big target," Hunter said. "As long as you don't let him behind you, you have a chance."
French's presence presumably was the reason for the attendance of University of Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz.
Nicholas Bruns' 32-yard field goal with 2:37 to play got the Cougars within six points, but they never got the ball back.
The game was scoreless through the majority of the first half. Linn-Mar's Michael Zimmerman hit a 35-yard field goal with 23 seconds left in the half to account for all of the pre-intermission scoring.
Mark Atwater's 2-yard run on the first possession of the second half made it 10-0, but the Cougars quickly countered.
French caught a lob pass that was originally bobbled by a Linn-Mar defender, and took it to the Lions 11. Three plays later, Rossi Adams scored on a 4-yard run.
Anthony Crawley bobbled the PAT snap, then alertly outran the coverage to the corner of the end zone to bring Kennedy within 10-8.
The Lions host Dubuque Wahlert next week; Kennedy faces Cedar Rapids Washington at Kingston.