Marion Local rallies to advance to second straight state championship

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Marion Local 42, Pat. Henry 20
In his team’s Division V state semifinal football game,
Hamler Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann figured he needed to hold
Maria Stein Marion Local to about 14 points. The Patriots did. For about three quarters. Marion scored the game’s final 28 points — including 21 in the
fourth quarter — for a tougher-than-it sounds 42-20 win at Donnell
Stadium in Findlay on Friday night.


FINDLAY — In his team’s Division V state semifinal football game,
Hamler Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann figured he needed to hold
Maria Stein Marion Local to about 14 points. The Patriots did.

For about three quarters.

Marion scored the game’s final 28 points — including 21 in the
fourth quarter — for a tougher-than-it sounds 42-20 win at Donnell
Stadium in Findlay on Friday night. The win puts Marion (14-0) in the
D-V state title game against Youngstown Ursuline (12-2) at 11 a.m.
Friday at Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium.

“This game really makes you proud as a coach,” said Marion Local’s
Tim Goodwin. “More than anything else it makes you proud the kids
believed in themselves.”

For the Flyers, though, there were plenty of times to doubt.More...

• Marion allowed its first points of the postseason. Patrick Henry
took the opening kickoff 68 yards in 12 plays, scoring on Drew Kuesel’s
1-yard run with 6:45 left in the first quarter. Before that Marion had
outscored its three previous playoff opponents 114-0.

• Marion trailed three times in the game, all by seven points or less.

• Marion entered allowing just 103 yards passing per game. Patrick
Henry quarterback Tom Busch and receiver Zach Botjer surpassed that in
the first half with 125 yards, including a 78-yard TD strike to make it
14-7 early in the second quarter.

• Down 14-7 late in the second quarter, Marion went for it on
fourth-and-2 at the Patrick Henry 3-yard line. Receiver Luke Bertke was
wide open in the corner of the endzone. But quarterback Chris Stucke’s
pass was low and behind Bertke.

• Marion fumbled five times and lost two. One was returned 46-yards
for a touchdown by Justin Buenger to give the Patriots a 20-14 lead
with 11:38 left in the third quarter. Patrick Henry also picked off one
pass.

“Coach told us all week bad things were going to happen and to keep
poised,” Stucke said of facing a strong Patrick Henry team filled with
playmakers.

Marion opened the second half with consecutive lost fumbles
(including Buenger’s score). But the Flyers — whose closest game
entering Friday was 21 points — stayed calm, cool, and as a result,
collected points. Marion used a 16-play, 78-yard TD drive that took
7:30 off the clock in the third. Kicker Dan Fortkamp gave the Flyers
the lead for good, 21-20.

The Flyers’ defense ended the Patriots’ first four drives of the second half with three turnovers and a punt.

“No doubt you win and lose football games at the line of scrimmage,”
Inselmann said. “And they took it to us. … I thought our defense
could play with their offense better than we did.”

The Patriots suffered two key injuries that hampered a comeback.
Busch, who Goodwin called the most accurate passer he’s ever seen in
high school, suffered a mild separated shoulder in the first half.
Sophomore Luke George, who attempted two passes this season, played the
second half. Busch was 5-of-10 for 129 yards and a TD. George was
3-of-8 for 32 yards and two interceptions.

Running back Kuesel, who entered with 1,404 yards and 34 TDs,
suffered a leg injury with 5:20 left in the game. He was carried off
the field. Kuesel finished with 43 yards on 17 carries.

Marion, winners of 26 straight, now go for their second state title.
The Flyers (last season’s D-VI champions) look to add the D-V state
title to its AP state poll championship.

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