Marcus vs. Prosper

Despite two interceptions and a rushing touchdown from Marcus junior Chance Sautter, right, the Marauders suffered a 28-21 overtime loss to senior Tyler Bailey, left, and Prosper.

FLOWER MOUND — For all the miscues that the Prosper football team endured on Friday night, including a staggering six turnovers, the Eagles still controlled their destiny through four quarters.

Even with a minus-6 in turnover differential, Prosper found itself tied at 21-21 with Marcus at the end of regulation. Once overtime commenced, it was one timely play after another for the Eagles to key a 28-21 road victory over the Marauders to advance in the Class 6A Division II playoffs.

“It’s a testament to our defense. Our defense kept fighting and plugging away. They played a great game,” said Brandon Schmidt, Prosper head coach. “Our offense kept putting them in some really bad situations and they kept responding time and time again.”

The Eagles out-gained the Marauders 405-251 on the night and accrued 23 first downs and to Marcus’ 13. But Prosper’s persistent turnover woes lingered all throughout regulation — the team lost a fumble in Marauder territory in the first quarter and junior quarterback Harrison Rosar was picked off five times by an opportunistic Marcus defense.

And yet, Rosar didn’t waver in steering the Eagles to a 28-21 lead after making good on their first overtime possession. Moments after a pass interference call in the end zone on third-and-11, Rosar put Prosper in front for good on a 5-yard touchdown pass to junior Hunter Summers, who snuck both foot just inbounds for the reception.

“[Rosar] is a competitor and a mentally tough kid,” Schmidt said. “I’m sure it bothered him, but he didn’t let [the turnovers] affect him.”

The rest was left up to a Prosper defense that had been dialed in from the onset Friday. Marcus didn’t help its cause by fumbling a snap on third-and-three for an 8-yard loss, which sunk the Marauders back to fourth-and-11 from the 16-yard line in their half of the first overtime period.

Prosper sewed up the win for good moments later after a throw from senior Jaxxon Warren fell incomplete in the end zone, advancing the Eagles to the area round.

“Our defense was unbelievable with all those takeaways. We needed to capitalize on them and we didn’t,” said Kevin Atkinson, Marcus head coach. “They’re just blitzing and bringing so much pressure and disrupting our timing. We just didn’t play our best game and when that happens in the playoffs, you typically lose to a good team.”

A blitz-heavy defense by nature, Prosper sent a wealth of pressure up front to keep Marcus from ever finding a steady rhythm on Friday. The Eagles limited the Marauders to just 3.6 yards per play in their bi-district win.

“The blitz is our identity. That’s our M.O. and we’re going to keep doing it,” Schmidt said.

The Marauders, meanwhile, got a boost with two interceptions from junior Chance Sautter, who added a 14-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, plus additional picks by junior Jake Ballard, junior Mason Whitesell and senior Chris Walstad, as well as a fumble recovery by senior Jacob Geddes. But of those six takeaways, only two were converted into points. 

That included an acrobatic pick by Walstad, a defensive lineman, with 8:43 to play in the fourth quarter after blowing up an attempted screen pass by Rosar. He set up Marcus at the Prosper 15-yard line and four plays later, senior Emmerick Dopona found the end zone on a 1-yard run for the Marauders’ first lead of the night, 21-14, with 6:36 to play.

It took Rosar and Co. all of one minute to respond — the quarterback promptly slung a deep ball three plays into Prosper’s ensuing drive and found senior Houston Hawkins for a 62-yard touchdown that tied the game back up with 5:36 to play. 

Those 60 seconds marked the only stretch of the night where Prosper trailed, despite the gaudy turnover differential.

Three of those turnovers came in the first quarter — the Eagles survived those initial miscues and led 14-7 at the half. Prosper was emphatic in its opening drive with Rosar completing five of his first six passes, capped by a 13-yard strike down the left seam to senior Tyler Bailey for a 7-0 lead with 9:09 left in the first quarter.

Marcus initially had a tough time mustering a response but was afforded plenty of chances thanks to turnovers forced on three consecutive defensive series. The third time was indeed the charm, as the Marauders strung together a 10-play drive and knotted up the count at 7-7 following a 10-yard touchdown pass from Warren to junior Isaac Khattab with 6:35 left in the second quarter.

Prosper quashed its turnover slump on the following series and promptly reaped the benefits. Rosar put the Eagles back in front on a 12-yard strike to Summers for a 14-7 advantage with 3:53 left in the half.

Rosar completed 18-of-33 passes for 281 yards and four touchdowns to go along with the five picks in the win. Hawkins came through with six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, while Summers chipped in five catches for 66 yards and a score.

The Eagles advance to meet Grand Prairie in the area round at a time and place to be determined.

“I’ve never seen a game with six turnovers and a win,” Schmidt said. “We’re very fortunate to get out of here with a win. Just the fight and the resilience of these kids. They just keep plugging away and competing.”

Marcus, meanwhile, got 173 yards and a touchdown from Warren, who made his first career start in the 2020 bi-district matchup against Prosper — a 38-19 win by the Eagles. Senior Walker Wells toughed 78 yards on the ground, and senior Connor Vaughn caught four passes 78 yards.

Friday’s loss capped the Marauders’ 2021 campaign at 8-3 overall, including a 6-1 run to a third consecutive District 6-6A championship.

“There were times when we looked down and out and people weren’t talking about us winning a district championship,” Atkinson said. “But we did, and I’m really proud of the seniors and what they brought to this team. But this still leaves a bad taste in your mouth.”

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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