The only way it could’ve been better was if there was overtime.
Marist pulled it out v North Marion in the final seconds, clinching their first trip to the semi finals since 2014. Lucas Tuski dove into the endzone with 8.9 left in the game, and an interception on North Marion’s hail mary attempt sealed it.
Though the 5 seed winning in the 4 v 5 matchup could hardly be called an upset, especially when most would’ve picked Marist to begin with, it was an upset of sorts. Marist beat North Marion on their home field, a place the Huskies had not lost at all year.
Both offenses struggled to move the ball consistently. Big plays would spark hope, and change field position, but most of the movement occurred on the legs of both teams punters rather than on their QB’s arms or receivers hands. Marist scored first with 1:24 left in the 1st, on the legs of Lucas Tuski, to make it 7-0. The Spartans would intercept a Husky screen pass on the following possession, setting them up in the red zone. Tuski would touch the ball three consecutive times, and find himself in the endzone again with 10:25 left in the half.
Offense, as previously mentioned, for both sides would be sparse. Penalties however, were abundant. North Marion would punt on their next possession, on 4th and 37.
Punt, Punt, then North Marion got a shot at the end zone. David Page scored from 2 yards out and would also get the 2pt conversion. Just in time as well, as the clock read 39.9 left in the half as the Huskies lined up to kickoff.
The Spartans wouldn’t find the end zone despite their best efforts before the half. At intermission, Marist lead 14-8.
Matthew Wheatcroft, after zigging and zagging, avoiding and breaking tackles, found the endzone on the opening kick of the second half. In a game with little offense, big defensive plays and an unusually active role from special teams would be required to win the game, check special teams off for the Huskies. The scoreboard now read 15-14 Huskies, their first lead of the night.
Punt by Marist, then a punt by North Marion. On the Husky punt however, it was Marist’s turn to check the special teams box.
Hagan Stephenson took the punt to the house, giving Marist back the lead at 21-15 with 5:12 left in the 3rd.
Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt.
North Marion scored with 4:06 left in the game, tying the score at 21 a piece with the extra point pending. A successful extra point kick would give the Huskies the lead back, and in this game that could be it.
Marist would block the kick, keeping the score tied.
Punt, punt, Spartan ball with 37.5 left.
Marist drove clear to the North Marion 5 in a little over 20 seconds through the air. A game winning field goal?
Not when you have Lucas Tuski. Remember him?
Marist would score with 8.9 left, Tuski again. Three touchdowns on the day. The Spartans would intercept the Husky hail mary attempt, and that was ball game.
Somewhat of an anticlimactic ending to what has been the best season at North Marion since 2009. The coaches of North Marion showed appreciation to the seniors after the game, including David Page, “Our coaches thanked our seniors for everything from building the program to what it is now considering no one expected us to be here, but because of our hard work we made it”.
David Page, when asked about the season as a whole, “I would like to thank everyone who came out this season and supported us. We brought a whole community together to come support us, we were on Fox 12 News, and we made history this season. I’m super thankful for this experience and it wouldn’t of been possible without the wonderful coaching staff, hard work of my teammates, and support of everyone in the community”.
Football is a three phase game, Marist won 2 out of 3, Sparty plays on.
North Marion proved a lot of people wrong this year, including yours truly. It’ll be fascinating to see how this program progresses over the next few years.