SIDNEY – Marion Local used a sharp passing game to beat Mechanicsburg, 26-15, on Friday in the Division VI, Region 24 final at Sidney Memorial Stadium. It was the second consecutive regional final victory for the Flyers over Mechanicsburg.
On the opening possession, Indians’ quarterback Kaleb Romero fumbled the ball away after picking up a first down and Marion Local set up shop at the M’burg 42.
The Indians cut the drive short, though, with Alex Rhine intercepting a pass and returning it to the 37-yard line to reinvigorate the visiting M’burg crowd.
But while Mechanicsburg’s offense never really got going in the first half, Marion Local delivered crisp passes and the occasional key run to move the ball effectively.
“We were able to run the ball at times. We were able to do some good things, but you have to dominate up front,” M’burg Coach Kurt Forrest said. “They have a an incredible front seven on defense and their offensive line does a great job.”
The Flyers punched in a 2-yard score with a run by Jack Homan with under two minutes remaining in the first quarter, then scored again with 5:07 left in the half to cap an 80-yard drive. They missed the extra point.
That drive didn’t come without controversy, as a Marion Local player appeared to touch a M’burg punt inside the 10-yard line. The ball bounced into the end zone and was recovered by the Indians, but the officiating crew ruled a touchback, not a touchdown. Possession Flyers.
At intermission, Marion Local led Mechanicsburg, 13-0.
Marion Local appeared to score on the opening play of the third quarter, but a holding penalty erased the big run and the touchdown. A few plays later, the Indians took over and drove down the field behind a basic offense.
After a few tries, Romero was finally able to find a crease and put the Indians in position to score. The Indians mixed in a couple of passes for balance and picked up a fourth down with a 5-yarder to Drew Myers.
Romero scored on a 1-yard run on third down to pull Mechanicsburg to within 13-7.
The elation was short-lived, however, as Marion Local immediately hit a big pass play and went on to score.
“They made the plays in some big moments,” said Forrest. “When we got it to 13-7 and had all the momentum in the world, they came back and executed a big pass play. That kinda got the momentum back in their favor.”
A failed two-pointer left the margin at 19-7, but the Indians turned the ball over on downs and the Flyers put another touchdown on the board to virtually seal the victory with less than six minutes remaining.
The Indians (12-1) scored a late TD on a 7-yard pass from Romero to Rhine, but the Flyers ran the clock out on their ensuing drive.
Romero was 7 of 12 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown. He added 166 yards on 27 rushes with a touchdown.
Quarterback Duane Leugers had 168 yards through the air and another 95 on the ground to lead Marion Local (12-1).
“Our kids fought to the bitter end. That’s who they are. They’re competitors and I’m proud of them,” Forrest said.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.