Purcell Marian nails field goal as time expired, advances with 30-28 victory over Zane Trace

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CHILLICOTHE, Ohio (WOUB)- Purcell Marian’s run game and special teams continued the playoff run with a victory over Zane Trace, 30-28. Led by the backfield duo of Sonny Ward and Jayel Harris, who both had two touchdowns each and totaled over 250 yards rushing combined. 

Purcell Marian was firing on all cylinders in the first half, quarterback Sonny Ward drove the offense down the field with two long completions that he capped off with his 11-yard rushing touchdown to put the Cavs up quick, 7-0.

After a quick three-and-out for Zane Trace’s offense, lightning struck twice with Ward taking the first play 54 yards to extend the lead 14-0 for Purcell Marian. Ward finished with 123 total yards and two rushing scores Friday night.  

Zane Trace needed to put together a drive to flip the momentum, with only 10 yards left to put themselves on the board, and quarterback Carter Langley out with a leg injury, the Pioneers failed to convert on fourth and goal. As Purcell Marian’s “Hackberry Assassins” defense held strong and kept the lead at two possessions.  

Purcell Marian built a long drive that shaved off several minutes of game time and finished the drive with Harris as he slipped his way into the endzone for his first touchdown of the night. The Cavaliers controlled all the momentum in the first two quarters of the match, and it seemed like the Cavaliers were not looking back up 21-0. 

With the starting quarterback injured and the Pioneers calling for desperate measures, and another opportunity to put points on the board. A direct snap to star running back Blake Phillips would turn into a roll out pass to the back of the endzone, which Phillips would find receiver Aaden Dunn, who had to climb the ladder and come down with the reception. This play would be the spark to Zane Trace’s offense that caught fire and adjusted the score to 21-7.  

The Pioneers managed to set the tone immediately at the beginning of the second half, as backup quarterback Cayden McCullough, hitting Dunn at the line of scrimmage on a screen pass and Dunn navigated his way through the Cavs defense to cut the lead to 21-14 quickly in the third quarter.  

The teams would trade long drives capped by short yardage runs at the goal line, but in Purcell Marian’s case after extending the lead to 27-14, the offense stayed on the field. A rollout play to Ward’s off hand would fall short, maintaining the lead to 13 points, which left an opportunity for the offense to trail if Zane Trace were to put up two scores.  

After Zane Trace’s touchdown in the middle of the fourth quarter to put it at 27-21 with six minutes left, Purcell Marian planned to lean on their power back and fast receiving core on sweeps to gain first downs and melt clock; However, Zane Trace forced a fumble inside the Cavs 40-yard line as the Zane Trace crowd erupted.  

Zane Trace relied on Phillips to push the offense down the field with gritty runs and the offensive line physically moving defenders out of Phillips’ way; Phillips scored his third touchdown of the night, and it awarded Zane Trace with its first lead of the game with only 1:30 remaining.  

With only a minute left and season on the line, Purcell Marian reestablished the passing game as a part of its offense and quickly drove downfield. Although, after being sacked inbounds with no timeouts left, Purcell Marian gained 20 yards through the air to bring them down to the 12-yard line with only three seconds left.  

Ultimately, with only a couple seconds left in the game and both teams needing to win one more play to advance to the third round of the playoffs, it all depended on the leg of Cavalier kicker Tyler Rude. Rude sent the field goal attempt through the middle of the posts and Purcell Marian stormed the field to celebrate the kicker’s game-winning kick.  

Purcell Marian (10-2) returns to Hackberry Street in Cincinnati to celebrate, meanwhile, the team will wait for the announcement of next week’s playoff game against first seed Germantown Valley View (11-1).  

For Zane Trace, a successful year where they finished second in the Scioto Valley Conference concludes at an 8-4 record.