Longhorns battle hard, fall short

11-20-15 -- Troy, Ala. -- Marengo's Cason Cook (3) drags Edgewood's Jon Johnson (15) with him towards the end zone in the first half of play in Troy. Marengo fell to Edgewood Academy 40-34 in the AISA Class AA State Championship Friday night in Troy, Ala. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

11-20-15 — Troy, Ala. — Marengo’s Cason Cook (3) drags Edgewood’s Jon Johnson (15) with him towards the end zone in the first half of play in Troy. Marengo fell to Edgewood Academy 40-34 in the AISA Class AA State Championship Friday night in Troy, Ala. (WAW | Stewart Gwin)

TROY — The Marengo Academy Longhorns left it all on the field Friday afternoon as they came up six points short of Edgewood Academy in the AISA Class AA State Championship.

“I can’t put into words how proud I am of these kids, man,” said MA head coach Webb Tutt. “Edgewood is a good team, don’t get me wrong, but these boys came out here and stuck with them all the way to the end.”

Edgewood took the opening kickoff and took it 76 yards to get on the board 2:30 into the game.

Marengo’s first points came at the 6:34 mark when Hayden Huckabee found the end zone from 5 yards out. The Robert Tutt PAT tied it at 7.

Edgewood again found the end zone when Canadian quarterback transfer Nathan Rourke ran it in from nine yards out. Heading into the second quarter, Edgewood led the Longhorns by seven.

On the ensuing drive, Edgewood’s Rourke was intercepted by Marengo’s Andrew Martin at the Marengo 34-yard-line. MA’s Cason Cook made good on the interception when he reeled in a 54-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Tutt to make it 14-all with 10:51 to go in the second.

An 18-yard pass from Edgewood’s Rourke to Maurice Young capped a seven-play, 70-yard scoring drive at the 7:55 mark. The PAT extended the Edgewood lead to 21-14.

Zac Murphy punched in in from one yard out on the ensuing 63-yard drive. The PAT failed and at 21-20, the ‘Horns were one point short of the Wildcats.

Eleven seconds before the half, Edgewood’s Daniel Green hauled in a 51-yard pass and extended his team’s lead by six. At the half, the Wildcats led the Longhorns, 27-20.

Marengo took the opening kick of the second half and was unable to convert the fourth down play at its own 39-yard line. Edgewood took over on downs and used eight plays to cover the 39 yards for a touchdown. With 7:32 left in the third, Edgewood extended the lead to 14 as it went up 34-20.

The Longhorns started their next drive from the 20 and used 12 plays and 6:08 to punctuate the drive with a 5-yard Huckabee run for a touchdown, closing in on the Wildcats, 27-34.

Edgewood’s final score of the night came with 43 seconds remaining in the third quarter as Rourke again connected with Green for a 57-yard touchdown reception. With a full quarter left to play, Edgewood led the Longhorns 40-27.

Despite a 13-point deficit, the Longhorns never let up through the fourth quarter. At the 9:34 mark, Huckabee capped an eight-play, 65-yard scoring drive when he ran  four yards to find the end zone. The Longhorns closed in and trailed the Wildcats by six with a score of 34-40.

The Longhorn defense forced a punt on Edgewood’s final possession of the night from the Edgewood 38-yard line. After taking an Edgewood roll, Marengo set up shop from their own half yard line, and used the next 7:51 to drive 85-and-a-half yards down to the Edgewood 14, where time expired.

“I think this is the winningest group of seniors to ever come through Marengo Academy,” said Tutt.

MA’s Robert Tutt went 4 of 8 for 116 yards on the afternoon and one touchdown. Huckabee led the ground attack with 27 touches for 142 yards and three touchdowns. Murphy had 24 attempts and 84 yards. Martin touched the ball twice for 43 yards before going out of the game with an injury following his interception play in the first quarter.

In an unusual turn of events, Cook led the receiving game for the Longhorns with three receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown.

Marengo had a total of 422 yards of offense on the night, with 306 coming from the ground and 116 through the air. Edgewood racked up 460, with 123 on the ground and 337 in the air. The Longhorns had 22 first downs to the Wildcats’ 21. Marengo also dominated time of possession with 31:41 to Edgewood’s 16:19.

Marengo’s Tutt led the defense with seven tackles. Lawson Smyly and Weldon Aydelott each had a sack on the night, making up the only two sacks in the game.

Marengo ends the season with a 10-2 record, with the only other loss coming from AAA state champion Bessemer Academy.