Monarch senior Ryan Kern (32) breaks through for yardage against Clayton Northmont on Friday. Kern rushed for 165 yards during Marysville’s 48-41 loss during the Division I playoff game. (Journal-Tribune photo Chad Williamson)
In the kind of game more people should have gotten to see, the Marysville Monarchs fell 48-41 to the Northmont Thunderbolts Friday night in the second round of the OHSAA football playoffs.
In addition to nearly 90 points and more than 900 yards of offense, the game featured long drives and quick strikes, big plays and bruising backs, one of the best quarterbacks in the state against one of the nation’s highest linebacker recruits, blocked punts, 12 touchdowns, a safety, mistakes, redemption and finally jubilation and heartbreak of a last second game-winning touchdown pass.
“I am proud of our kids,” said Monarch head coach Brent Johnson following the game. “I am proud of how they played and how they played together.”
He added, “The kids played hard. They didn’t stop. They didn’t give up. I am proud of them for that.”
For 48 minutes, Marysville worked to overcome mistakes.
The Monarchs lost their first possession of each half before it began. Tanner Powers fumbled the game’s opening kickoff. His cousin, Gabe Powers fumbled the kick to start the second half for Marysville’s offense.
Tanner Powers’ fumble gave the home team a short field and they took advantage.
On the first Northmont play, Thunderbolt quarterback Cade Rice lofted a pass to Markus Allen in the front corner of the endzone for a 25-yard touchdown.
The Xavier Voung kick gave the home team a 7-0 lead, less than 20 seconds into the battle.
The Monarchs matched the quick-strike Bolts with a score of their own.
With its first time running plays, Marysville marched the ball 66 yards on six snaps.
Ryan Kern, who tallied 165 yards rushing on the night, did the drive’s heavy lifting and capped the series with a nine-yard touchdown run to even the score with 9:02 to play in the initial quarter.
Once again, the host team wasted little time getting to the end zone.
Northmont moved the ball 55 yards, all by air, in 1:28.
Rice finished the drive throwing his second touchdown pass, a nine-yard, swing effort to Javien Brownlee who sprinted into the endzone.
The home team Thunderbolts took a 20-7 lead in the opening seconds of the second half.
Facing third and eight, Rice hit Allen with a laser pass inside the five-yard-line.
Allen caught the ball in stride and stepped into the end zone. Voung’s kick was blocked, but his team was starting to pull away with 11:49 to play in the half.
“He is a good quarterback,” Johnson said of Rice, who finished the game 28-of-43, for 413 yards and seven touchdowns in the air.
But as Johnson said, his team did not give up.
The Monarchs took the ball and marched 53 yards on six plays.
Griffin Johnson earned 24 yards on the drive, including one for a touchdown with 9:19 in the second quarter.
Logan Hall’s kick cut the Northmont lead to 6 at 20-14.
Hall drew his squad even closer, booting a 30-yard field goal with 1:33 before half time.
The teams went to their corner of the stadium with the Thunderbolts holding a 20-17 lead.
The black and green returned to field and notched a pair of scores in less than three minutes.
In the opening drive, Rice lofted a beautiful pass to T.J. Gregory, who leapt over his Monarch defender near the 15.
Gregory came down and continued running straight to the end zone.
On the ensuing kickoff, Gabe Powers took the ball at the eight and returned it to the 30 where he was stood up.
He continued to fight for more yards, but was unable to hold onto the ball as he did.
Just 42 seconds later, Rice hit Allen on a 21-yard touchdown pass, which, combined with Voung’s kick, gave the Thunderbots a 34-17 lead with 9:18 to play in the third quarter.
Allen had 11 receptions for 174 yards.
As quick as Northmont was, Marysville responded equally methodically. The Monarchs chewed up 6:22 seconds and 75 yards on 14 plays.
The drive’s final play, a seven-yard Johnson run around the left end, cut Northmont’s lead to 34-24.
Johnson finished the game with 68 yards on 14 carries.
As the third quarter drew to a close, the Marysville defense stood tall and forced the Bolts to surrender the ball on downs at the MHS six-yard-line.
Marysville used 10 plays, including a 42-yard run by Gabe Powers, to chop away at the 94 yards to the other end of the field.
On first-and-goal from the three, Powers, who finished the game with 86 yards on 10 carries, pushed his way into the end zone, cutting the Northmont lead to 34-31 with just over eight minutes to play.
The Monarch defense again stood firm on the next possession, forcing a three-and-out.
Voung went to punt, but Marysville’s Aidan Lambert blocked the effort.
The ball bounced off the Monarch rusher and out the back of the end zone.
The safety drew the Monarchs to within a point of the host team at 34-33 and gave them the ball at their own 17-yard-line with 6:56 to play following the kick.
Driving down the field, MHS ran the ball eight consecutive times.
The Bolt defense was convinced the Monarchs were running a ninth time and it appeared they were.
Gabe Powers took a handoff at the Northmont 35.
He ran right, suddenly stopped, planted his feet and tossed the ball to Cameron Jones. who was all alone near the five-yard-line.
From there, Jones walked into the end zone. Johnson added a two-point conversion run and with 3:24 to play, the Monarchs had clawed their way to a 41-34 lead.
The advantage, however, was short-lived.
The Thunderbolts covered 74 yards in five plays. With 2:20 to play, Rice tied the score by lofting a four-yard fade to Gregory.
Marysville went three-and-out in its resulting possession.
With 1:25 to play, Rice took over.
The senior signal caller marched his team down the field and with just 16 ticks on the clock, hit a leaping Brownlee in the front of the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.
Johnson said the loss was as tough as he has experienced as a coach.
“They wanted this. We wanted it for them. We wanted it for our seniors,” the coach said, adding his team, “came out here to win.”
He said that despite the loss, the fact that his team competed for 48 minutes with one of the top teams (No. 5 in the AP D-I rankings) in the state showed that Marysville is closer to being ready than it was a year ago.
“Now we have to make that next step,” he said.
He said the team will look at film and try to find an opponent for next week.