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MARION — Tim Lovell addressed his players and the student section on the field postgame Friday night at Thomas Park.
Everyone was kneeling around him, respectfully quiet as the coach spoke.
“That’s a good football team,” Lovell said, his voice breaking with emotion as he pointed toward the opponent. “But guess who beat them?”
The Marion Indians did. That’s who.
Tight end Grant Meth caught a tipped pass for a two-point conversion that gave Marion a 15-14 overtime win over Class 3A sixth-ranked Clear Creek-Amana. Owen Carstensen’s 6-yard touchdown run on the second play of the Indians’ OT possession made it a one-point game.
Lovell, in his first season as a head coach, rolled the dice, eschewing an attempt at a tying extra-point kick. That roll turned up a beautiful ‘2.’
“I told our coaches that if we went to overtime, we were going to go for two. I told our players that, too,” Lovell said. “If we scored in overtime, we were going to go for two to win it. If it works, you look great. If it doesn’t, you feel bad. I feel great.”
Marion (5-2) ended an 18-game losing streak with a win in Week 2 and has stunningly now clinched a winning season. The Indians find themselves in a first-place tie in District 4 with CC-A, West Delaware and Davenport Assumption at 4-1 apiece.
Marion still has games remaining with WD and Assumption.
“Not that surprised that Coach went for two,” Meth said. “He wanted us to win more than anybody on this team. We had the opportunity, so you might as well take it ... This community deserved it. So does this team.”
This was a knockout, drag-down physical contest. Clear Creek-Amana (6-1) had only 173 yards in regulation to Marion’s 111.
Quarterback Ashton Carpenter’s 2-yard sneak on third down gave the Clippers a touchdown, with Tyreke Williams’ extra point making it 14-7. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Paulsen scrambed for four yards on the first play of Marion’s possession, with Carstensen bursting off right guard on the next play.
Paulsen was supposed to throw a quick pop pass to Meth on the two-point try, but hesitated. He threw late and errantly, but the football deflected off the outstretched hands of a CC-A defender ... and right to Meth in the back of the end zone.
“We faked the blast and did a jump pass, basically a pop pass,” Paulsen said. “I faked and looked right away, and he was open. I don’t know, I guess I just hesitated and didn’t throw it. I just threw it anyway because there was nothing I could do at that point. They ended up tipping it, and we caught it.”
“Trevor threw it way to the side, but it got tipped up. I just caught it,” Meth said. “As soon as I saw him throw it to the side, I thought ‘Oh, man.’ But as soon as that guy tipped it, I was like ‘That’s all right.’”
Paulsen’s 2-yard QB sneak on Marion’s initial possession made it a 7-0 game. Gallagher scored on a 1-yard sneak in the final minute of the first half as the teams went into the break, 7-7.
No one threatened seriously to score in the second half, though CC-A enjoyed a ton of good field position.
“We struggled tonight in a lot of areas offensively,” said CC-A Co-Coach Matt Hughes. “I think it’s good. It’s one of those things when a football team has to look itself in the mirror now and figure out what they want to do. How they want to respond. You battle through adversity in life. In a football season, it happens. I think we’re going to find the true character of this team in how we respond this week.”
“Our kids, they just kept playing and believing in one another,” Lovell said. “That’s all we talk about. Love the guy next to you, play for the guy next to you. Great things are going to happen when you trust the guy next to you.”
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