Big plays spell doom for Marengo in AISA title game

TROY — Marengo Academy became the 58th consecutive victim of Edgewood Friday, falling 55-25 in the AISA, Class AA state championship game.

“Right now, I’m kind of speechless bout it,” Edgewood coach Bobby Carr said about his team winning its fifth consecutive state championship.

Marengo appeared to have a puncher’s chance early as the Longhorns embarked on a 12-play, 65-yard drive to open the game. Josh Holifield punched it in from a yard out to give MA a 7-0 lead.

Edgewood found its stride on its second possession when Daniel Green went completely uncovered before hauling in a 50-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Bottoms to pull the game even.

“I think our type of offense, we’re trying to control the ball. I guess they ran a hidden player over here on the sideline and that kind of got it started,” Marengo coach Robby James said.

With 6:53 to go in the second quarter, Tyler Matthews pulled in an 11-yard toss from Bottoms to give Edgewood a lead it would never lose.

The Longhorns used eight plays to drive 57 yards and answer with an 11-yard Holifield touchdown run. The conversion attempt failed and left Marengo down 14-13.

With 28 seconds left in the half, Edgewood pounced with an 8-yard drive that culminated with a 9-yard touchdown run by Herman McKenzie. The Wildcats then shifted offensive lineman Jolan Stieringer into the backfield on a conversion attempt that saw him throw a 2-point pass to Jackson Tate for a 22-13 lead.

“You get to this point, you don’t want to leave anything in the bag. We’ve worked on trick plays all year long and our kids kept asking when we were going to run them,” Carr said. “I told them we were going to keep them in our back pocket until we needed them and, obviously, we needed them.”

Edgewood poured it on in the third quarter with a 43-yard touchdown pass from Josh Crawford to Tate that stretched the lead to 29-13. Bottoms then found David Crayton for a 27-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-13.

Crawford scored from 3 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter, leaving Edgewood up 41-13.

On the ensuing kickoff, Shade Pritchett took a handoff from Andrew Martin and proceeded to go 76 yards for the score, leaving MA down 41-19.

“They are really good in space,” James said. “In all my years of coaching, I don’t think I’ve ever faced that many athletes.”

Edgewood fired back with a 17-yard scoring pass from Bottoms to Tate and then a 47-yard touchdown run by McKenzie. Marengo got the final touchdown of the game on a 15-yard pass from Tyler Barkley to Pritchett.

“I’m proud of our kids,” James said. “They never quit.”

“We knew they were going to be tough, well-coached. There is an awful lot of tradition there,” Carr said of Marengo. “I’ve got the utmost respect for Robby James and just to be mentioned in the breath as Robby James is humbling.”

Bottoms threw for 235 yards and four touchdowns in the game. McKenzie led all rushers with 142 yards on 12 carries. Crawford added 105 yards on 21 carries.

Holifield led Marengo with 119 yards on 25 carries.