LIMA — It turns out that Marion Local does have a quick-strike offense.
The Flyers took away any hope Patrick Henry had early, then showed off with big score after big score, in a 40-6 decision in a Division VII state semifinal Saturday night at Lima.
Most in attendance got what they thought they would get most of the game after the two teams traded quick punts. However, it was all Flyers after that. Taking over at the 3-yardline after a booming 61-yard punt by TJ Rhamy, Marion Local took just one play to score. Peyton Otte took a pitch to the far side of the field, turned the corner, and outraced the entire Patriot defense for a 97-yard score.
Patrick Henry gained a first down on its ensuing possession before giving the ball back. This time, it took two plays for Marion Local to do damage. On a second down play from the Marion Local 29, quarterback Kyle Muhlenkamp found a wide open Charles Huelsman, whop easily did the rest of the work on a 71-yard catch-and-run score. The led to a 13-0 lead for the Flyers with five minutes left in the opening stanza.
“I though we would play them better than that this year,” admitted Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann. “They had big plays. So many big plays on offense. I didn’t expect that.
“Tip your hat to them,” added the veteran coach. “I assume they are going to win it (state title) next week. If that is the case, it would mean the Division VII state champ would be the Division VI state champ in their league.”
Marion Local got the ball back with a minute left in the period when Otte intercepted a Rhamy pass for Kolton Holloway in the end zone.
It led to a seven-play drive from the Flyers, one that ended with a four-yard run by Brandon Fleck.
A second interception thrown by Rhamy deep in Marion Local territory led to yet another explosive play for the Flyers. Rolling right, Rhamy was picked off by Huelsman at the 8-yard line. Moving to the other side of the ball, Huelsman caught a pass on the initial Marion Local play at midfield, spun out of one tackle, and went 92 yards for his second night.
“They did a great job of mixing up coverages,” Inselmann said of the Marion Local defense. “They were moving people around. We ran the ball okay at times, but it was hard because every time they would score right away. It just seemed like we couldn’t get a rhythm going.”
He added his third on a 13-yard pass to cap a 75-yard drive with a minute-and-a-half left before halftime. Looking for the front pylon, Huelsman dove and knocked it over, giving him the score.
It led to a running clock in the second half.
Huelsman caught seven passes for 250 yards in the game.
“It’s frustrating because they are at that level and I thought we would get there,” Inselmann said of the game. “I thought we would compete this year, but we didn’t.
“It does not diminish what our kids did in their playoff run,” Inselmann said of reaching the state’s final four. “I’m very proud of how our kids responded after some tough losses during the regular season. We didn’t give up. We came back and worked hard and I loved the playoff run we had.”
Patrick Henry gave up the ball on downs at the 45 to start the second half. With the clock running, Marion Local was able to take 7:11 off the clock to march the 45 yards. Keeping the ball on the ground for 10 of the 11 plays, Otte was able to score from nine yards out.
The Patriots got the ball back with 1:37 left in the third, and used it to get in position to score. Taking up time — and yards in chunks — Patrick Henry finally broke through. Passes to Wil Morrow for 9 and 36 yards started the final quarter, and finally Rhamy ended the drive with a four-yard scoring jaunt.
“That was neat to get a score there,” Inselmann said of getting the late touchdown. “Our kids have a lot of pride.”
Patrick Henry will now have to move on from a senior group that won just two games their sophomore season to becoming state semifinalists and winning 10 games.
“Our seniors, what a year they gave us last year,” said Inselmann of the group. “They were a big part of that group that gave us the great run to win the league last year and got us to the Final Four this year. We are going to miss our seniors.”
Marion Local will face Lucas in the Division VII state title game on Saturday at 10 a.m. at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton.
First Downs 9 15
Rush-Yds 30-133 26-202
Pass Yds 90 288
Total Yds 213 490
Passing 7-15-2 10-11-0
Fumbles 0-0 1-1
Penalties 2-10 3-36
Patrick Henry 0 0 0 6 — 6
Marion Local 13 20 7 0 — 40
ML — Otte 97-run (kick blocked).
ML — Huelsman 71-pass from Muhlenkamp (Klosterman kick).
ML — B. Fleck 4-run (kick failed).
ML — Huelsman 92-pass from Muhlenkamp (Klosterman kick).
ML — Huelsman 13-pass from Muhlenkamp (Klosterman kick).
ML — Otte 9-run (Klosterman kick).
PH — Rhamy 4-run (pass failed).
RUSHING: Patrick Henry — Morrow 13-65; Rhamy 11-61; DeLong 4-6; Kistner 2-1. Marion Local — Otte 4-104; B. Fleck 10-47; Heitkamp 8-25; Muhlenkamp 1-19; Grisedorn 1-4; D. Fleck 1-2; Seitz 1-1. PASSING: Patrick Henry — Rhamy 7-15-90-2. Muhlenkamp 10-11-288-0. RECEIVING: Patrick Henry — Morrow 2-45; Johnson 2-17; Holloway 1-15; Feehan 1-9; Schulze 1-4. Marion Local — Huelsman 7-250; Otte 2-28; Kemper 1-10.