Marionville felt like it dominated the first half of the district title game against Lockwood, but the Comets were only up 14-13 after giving up two touchdowns late.
To open the second half, Marionville marched down the field only to be turned away on fourth and goal.
Lockwood then took 12 plays to go 90 yards down the field to score, putting the Tigers up 21-14.
It was going to take a lot of effort to turn the game around.
“Coming out of the first half, the momentum was a lot on (Lockwood’s) side,” Marionville head coach Paden Grubbs said. “To go down and get stopped at the goal line again — then (Lockwood) scores. Lot of teams could’ve just quit.”
The Comets did not quit, however. They got big plays from a few of their stars and came out of the game with a 28-21 win and a district championship plaque.
Marionville opened the scoring courtesy of running back Dakota Wilson. The 5-foot-5 running back took a handoff on fourth and one near midfield 49 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion was good, giving the Comets a 8-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Near the midpoint of the second quarter, Comets quarterback Wil Carlton connected on a 59-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kyle Brattin. The Comets lead 14-0 after the touchdown.
Then Lockwood completely shifted the momentum and tone of the game. The Tigers marched down the field and scored on a quarterback sneak from senior Max Schnelle.
Schnelle did not wait for his offense to get back onto the field to score again. On the ensuing Marionville drive, he intercepted a Carlton pass at his own 7 yard line and ran it all the way back for a pick-six. The extra-point kick was blocked, allowing Marionville to take a 14-13 lead into halftime.
Marionville was turned away at the goal line to open the second half. Lockwood took the ball from its own 10 yard line and 12 plays later, Schnelle found Blake Cooper in the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
Lockwood had scored three unanswered touchdowns, and the Comets needed to respond.
“We made a couple mistakes,” Carlton said. “But we were ready to keep pounding.”
Eight seconds into the fourth quarter, Brattin caught another touchdown pass. This one was 36 yards. The two-point conversion failed, so the Comets were still down by one.
The next Lockwood drive stalled at midfield, and the Comets took 10 plays to score. Wilson appeared to be stuffed at the 1-yard line, but the powerful back made a second-effort dive and barely got across the goal line. This time the two-point conversion was successful, giving Marionville a 28-21 lead.
Lockwood got the ball back with 2:57 left in the game. On fourth and five near midfield, Comets defensive back Hugh Eaton tackled the Lockwood receiver on a screen pass, giving the ball back to Marionville.
Marionville kneeled out the time remaining, and took possession of the Class 1 District 4 trophy.
“The guys never quit,” Grubbs said. “This means so much to me and the guys.”
Carlton had two touchdown passes of 39 yards or more. Wilson had 156 yards on the ground and two touchdowns.
For Carlton, having someone like Wilson in his backfield is one of his favorite things.
“He’s so little and tiny, but he squats 500 pounds,” Carlton said. “He’s an absolute beast and I love having him on our team.”
Carlton had a hard time describing what the win felt like.
“It’s beyond words,” Carlton said. “The feeling is just — you feel it the rest of the night. I’m not going to be able to sleep.”
Marionville improves to 12-0 with the win. The Comets will play Windsor (12-0) next week in the semifinals. Windsor beat Skyline 44-36 Friday night.