After squandering a 27-7 lead, Marcus’ defense rose to the occasion when it needed to most Friday on the road against rival Flower Mound.
With the Jaguars at the Marcus 20-yard line with 10 seconds remaining and needing a field goal to force overtime, Flower Mound opted for one last shot at the end zone.
Only quarterback Blake Short was sacked in the backfield, allowing the final seconds to tick off the clock prior to attempting a kick and sealing a 34-31 win for the Marauders.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Kevin Atkinson, Marcus head coach. “I thought for sure they were going to kick it. But they were tried to snap it and throw it up one last time. I’ve been really happy with how our defense has been playing all year, so I really thought they’re going to give us a chance and he took the sack. You can’t say enough about the effort of our defensive front.”
The win keeps Marcus perfect in District 6-6A competition at 5-0 and clinches a playoff berth, while Flower Mound drops to 3-2. Had the Jaguars won, it would have created a four-way tie atop the district standings alongside Hebron and Lewisville.
“I’m just pleased with our kids effort and their character and culture of this program being on the upswing,” Atkinson said. “It takes a minute to get everything the way you want it. It took us three years in Denton, and it’s taken us three years here. I’m really excited so the kids can get some fruits of their labor.”
The wild finish, which saw Flower Mound drive 41 yards into scoring position in the final minute prior to the game-ending sack, fit right in with the rest of this thrilling installment of the Mound Showdown.
Marcus had taken a 27-7 lead early in the second quarter only to see Flower Mound respond with 24 consecutive points to take its first lead at 31-28 with 11:44 remaining in the fourth quarter courtesy of a 12-yard touchdown run by Pierce Hudgens.
Hudgens finished with 139 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, while Short completed 23-of-44 passes for 146 yards and two scores.
Marcus, meanwhile, out-gained Flower Mound, 510-281, but had three turnovers to help Flower Mound remain within striking distance.
The biggest sequence for the Marauders, meanwhile, came early in the second quarter when J. Michael Sturdivant hauled in a 21-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Garrett Nussmeier, and after a Flower Mound fumble on the kickoff, Nussmeier connected with Collin Sutherland on a 33-yard touchdown off a reverse-pass to give the Marauders their biggest lead of the night at 27-7 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter.
Nussmeier finished with 368 yards passing and three touchdowns, while Sturdivant had 13 receptions for 157 yards and two scores.
Ty’Son Edwards (21 carries, 123 yards, one touchdown) also had a big game on the ground for Marcus before leaving with an injury. But Tyler Gainey (15 carries, 54 yards and a score) picked up the slack for Marcus, including pounding in the game-winning score in the closing minutes.
“(Gainey has) been our second-half guy for two weeks in a row,” Atkinson said. “He’s a powerful runner and we’re looking to use him more in the future.”