MISHAWAKA — You have to give the defense of the Marian Knights a ton of credit.
With starting quarterback Maddix Bogunia and starting halfback Malcom Anderson both on the sideline with injuries midway through the third quarter of their game with Jimtown on Friday, the Knights' defense came through, holding the Jimmies without a score in the second half, as Marian beat the Jimmies 14-13, to win its fifth straight Class 3A sectional title.
"Our kids really did a great job defensively tonight,'' Marian coach Michael Davidson said. "You have to give Jimtown a lot of credit for playing a great game and giving us all we could handle tonight. But fortunately, we had some young kids come in and play well and we were able to hold on to win.''
The Knights, ranked No. 4 in 3A, will travel to Knox next week for regional play. Both teams will enter that game 11-1.
For the Jimmies, who close at 7-5, it came down to a missed extra point after a touchdown late in the first half.
"This was just a great high school football game,'' Jimtown coach Mike Campbell said. "Our kids played hard and gave it everything they had tonight. Marian just made a couple more plays than we did and they're moving on.''
Although Jimtown was able to control the football with the Knights' two top offensive players on the sideline, the Marian defense allowed the Jimmies to reach Knights' territory just once in the second half and that play (a 15-yard run by Clay Campbell) was called back on a holding penalty.
Trailing 14-7 late in the first half, Jimtown drove 80 yards in nine plays to pull to within one point on a perfectly thrown 32-yard touchdown pass from Clay Campbell to senior classmate Tre Washington with 37 seconds left.
But the extra point attempt by Isaac Daniels missed wide left, keeping the score at 14-13.
"That was certainly not the reason we lost,'' Mike Campbell said later.
Marian had taken a quick lead just over two minutes into the game when Bogunia found a wide open Eddie Murphy over the middle of the field for 32-yard touchdown pass to give the Knights a 7-0 lead.
"We had seen something on film that we thought would work,'' Davidson said. "We didn't expect him to be that open, but Maddix still did a great job getting him the ball in stride.''
The Jimtown defense would then make a huge stand of it's own, after a fumble on the Jimmies' second play from scrimmage.
Clay Campbell would come up with a big interception on a third down pass over the middle, keeping the score at 7-0.
Jimtown would knot the score on the final play of the first quarter, as Campbell scrambled away from pressure on a fourth-and-seven play from the Knights' 33 and find a wide open Washington near the corner of the end zone for the touchdown. The play completed a 13-play drive and the touchdown pass was the second fourth down the Jimmies converted in the drive.
But the Knights would come right back on their next possession, driving 74 yards in eight plays, with Mitch Floran taking a quick pass from Bogunia 23 yards down the sidelines to the end zone with 8:47 to play in the half.
Marian would miss a field goal in the quarter, before Campbell found Washington for the touchdown to make it 14-13.
"If you would have told me at halftime that there would be no scoring in the second half, I wouldn't have believed you,'' Mike Campbell said. "But we just couldn't seem to make that one big play and you have to credit their defense for that.''
Anderson and Bogunia would have to be carried off the field in the game with no pressure being put on an injured leg. Anderson was hurt midway through the second quarter, while Bogunia was knocked out after a sack with 6:15 left in the third quarter.
Both players were on crutches after the game and their status for next week's game with Knox will be determined.
Bogunia ran for 72 yards on 10 carries before his injury and threw the two touchdown passes.
Likewise, Clay Campbell had a solid game running the ball for Jimtown, carrying it 21 times for 75 yards. He also threw two scoring passes.
The tough loss signals the end for 20 Jimtown seniors, who had helped the team win five straight coming into Friday's game.
"I'm so proud of those seniors for the leadership they gave us this year and for the way they battled tonight,'' Mike Campbell said. "Just wish we had another week with them and another game to get ready for.''
MARIAN 14, JIMTOWN 13
Scoring By Quarters
M — Eddie Murphy 32 pass from Maddix Bogunia; Hunter Renner kick; 9:52.
J — Tre Washington 33 pass from Clay Campbell; Isaac Daniels kick; 0:00.
M — Mitch Floran 23 pass from Bogunia; Renner kick; 8:47.
J — Washington 32 pass from Campbell; kick failed; 0:37.
Jimtown: Rushing — Clay Campbell 21-75, Ethan Devol 14-49, Cole Thompson 8-38. Passing — Campbell 3-11-73. Receiving — Tre Washington 3-72. Interceptions — Campbell.
Marian: Rushing — Maddix Bogunia 10-72, Malcom Anderson 7-28, Michael Murphy 5-24. Passing — Bogunia 4-10-73, 1 int., Gabe Kerr 0-2. Receiving — Eddie Murphy 1-32, Mitch Floran 2-31.