Muscatine’s offense couldn’t find its footing — both literally and metaphorically — on a sloppy Muscatine Community Stadium field in Friday’s 28-10 loss to visiting Linn-Mar.
The Muskies, who had scored 81 points and totaled 896 yards in their previous two games, were limited to just 147 yards of offense on a rainy night.
“We struggled,” Muscatine head coach Jake Mueller said. “All year we’ve been making the plays when we needed to, especially in the last two weeks when our offense has really carried us, but we just did not get the job done tonight.”
The Lions, on the other hand, overcame offensive struggles that have plagued them all season to pick up their second win of the year. Linn-Mar (2-5, 1-2 Class 4A District 4) entered Friday’s game averaging just over 50 rushing yards per game, but totaled 280 yards on the ground in the victory.
“I didn’t see that coming,” Mueller said. “Hats off to them. They played a style they haven’t played all year and they executed. We did not. We didn’t meet their physicality. That’s the bottom line. They brought it to us and we did not answer.”
Linn-Mar tailback Alex Hess, who entered Friday’s game with 212 rushing yards in six games, totaled 269 yards on 34 carries. His 34-yard score put the Lions on the board first, and after Muscatine answered with a 28-yard Carson Borde field goal, Hess ran 62 yards for a touchdown.
Linn-Mar quarterback Marcus Orr found Will Zahradnik for a 12-yard touchdown less than a minute into the second quarter to give the Lions a 21-3 lead.
Prince Wei’s interception set up Muscatine’s lone touchdown of the night, a 3-yard run by quarterback Carson Orr that trimmed the lead to 21-10 with 4:25 left in the first half. But the Muskies (4-3, 1-2 District 4) would get no closer, struggling to move the ball on a muddy track in the second half.
“For some reason (the conditions) didn’t seem to bother Linn-Mar as much as it bothered us,” Mueller said. “That’s frustrating. Their players made plays and we did not. It’s disappointing.”
Muscatine’s defense did play better in the second half, not giving up a touchdown. The Muskies also came up with four turnovers on the night, with Togeh Deseh recovering two fumbles while Wei recovered a fumble in addition to his interception.
“Defensively we did a much better job in the second half,” Mueller said. “We stepped up and made plays and got some turnovers.”
But the offense just could not take advantage. Orr struggled to set his feet on the slippery field, and was just 6-for-19 passing. Tim Nimely, who had rushed for 493 yards in the last two games, was unable to get his legs under him as well, rushing for just 37 yards.
“We like to make plays on the edge and throw the ball a little bit,” Mueller said. “It was tough to come back and play the style that we like to play. They made plays when they had to, and we couldn’t get the job done. It’s very disappointing.”