‘Program Changing Win’ For John Marshall
Fitzpatrick Hits Tying and Winning Kicks
MOUNDSVILLE — John Marshall picked up what coach Justin Kropka called a “program changing” win Friday night, defeating Trimble 34-33 at Monarch Stadium.
Sophomore kicker Connor Fitzpatrick kicked a 38-yard field goal at the end of regulation to tie the game 27-27 and force overtime. Fitzpatrick then kicked a game-winning extra point on quarterback Jacob Coffield’s touchdown to give the Monarchs a 34-33 victory over the visiting Tomcats.
Trimble (3-1), visiting from Glouster, Ohio, had not lost a regular season game in the past three seasons.
It looked like they could continue that streak after scoring a go-ahead touchdown with 38 seconds left in regulation to take a 27-24 lead.
“It’s not over,” Kropka, the Monarch’s first-year head coach, told his team on the sideline. “You keep fighting until there’s all zeroes.”
Trimble went with a short kickoff following the touchdown, attempting to keep the ball out of the hands of DiMarion White, who had two long kickoff returns earlier in the game. The kick went shorter than intended and JM took over at their own 45 yard line.
“We didn’t want them to run the kickoff back,” Trimble coach Phil Faires said. “They have some threats there and our kickoff coverage for some reason just hadn’t been the same the last couple of weeks. We were trying to give them the ball at the 35 or 30. We gave it to them at the 45 and we knew, with their kicker, they were a few plays away from being in field goal range to tie it.”
After starting the possession with three incomplete passes, the Monarchs found themselves facing fourth-and-10 with the game on the line. Coffield hit a screen pass to senior Ben McCardle, who ran for 12 yards to pick up the first down. Trimble was called for a facemask penalty on top of that, pushing the ball 15 more yards down the field.The penalty set the Monarchs up at the 21 yard line with just a hair more than a second left on the clock.
Kropka trotted out Fitzpatrick, who was a perfect 3-3 on extra points and had already drilled a 28-yard field goal in the first half. Fitzpatrick made the kick with plenty of room to spare to send the game into overtime.
“At that point in the game, I was willing to let him kick from Mars,” Kropka said with a laugh. “He’s worked hard all summer long and we’ve been telling him ‘we’re going to need you someday’. And man, was he on tonight. He made every kick. You talk about some pressure kicks, at the end of the half, at the end of the game, you don’t get much more pressure than the ones he put through.”
“I had nothing on my mind,” Fitzpatrick said. “I was locked in, it was just like every other field goal.”
Fitzpatrick said he would have been comfortable kicking from as far away as 55 yards.
“The penalty helped them with (field position), and it was a penalty,” Faires admitted. “Although it looked like (the kick) cleared (the crossbar) by quite a ways so maybe it would’ve been good without that.”
Kropka said the Monarchs have run end-of-game scenarios like that all the time in practice so his kids were able to remain calm and execute when they needed to.
“We work on that a lot,” Kropka said. “We work a lot of game situations, we’ve done that two minute drill a million times. I’ve found in my coaching career that when you prepare for things, when they happen you’re not panicked. There wasn’t anybody wide-eyed out there. I’m very proud of how we did that and maybe this will put a little spark as to why we do things.”
Trimble got the ball first in the extra frame and leaned on quarterback Tabor Lackey, who had been a one-man wrecking crew all game long. Lackey was responsible for three of Trimble’s touchdowns in regulation, running in a pair of scores and throwing for another. The senior carried the ball 29 times for 134 yards and completed 10-of-24 throws for 248 yards.
In overtime, Trimble’s first play was a 16-yard run from Lackey, setting up Bryce Downs to score two plays later to go up 33-27. The Tomcats missed the point after kick, however, leaving the door open for the Monarchs to win with just a touchdown and extra point.
On JM’s possession, Coffield ran for 19 yards down to the one-yard line on the Monarch’s first play and scored one play later on a quarterback sneak. Fitzpatrick kicked the extra point through the uprights to propel John Marshall to the 34-33 victory. Again, Fitzpatrick felt no pressure.
“I wasn’t even thinking about it,” Fitzpatrick said. “An extra point is an extra point.”
“I’m happy for the kids,” Kropka said. “When you’re playing a team that hasn’t lost in three years, those kids have a champion’s heart.”
“What a tremendous lesson for a young team to learn that even when it seems like it’s impossible, it never is. You can’t script it any better than that, especially for a young team. That Trimble team had more guts than maybe any team I’ve ever coached against.”
Kropka, who spent the last few years building up the Harrison Central program, said winning a game like that can do wonders for a young team’s future.
“It’s a program-changer,” Kropka said. “That’s a touchstone. My first year at Harrison Central, Wheeling Central was on a long winning streak and we had never had a winning season. We went to the Island and beat them. I think that was a touchstone for that program and I have a feeling, ten years from now we’re going to look back at this game and it’ll be the touchstone for this one.”
The Tomcats faced their own do-or-die situations several times throughout the game. John Marshall twice led their visitors by two scores, leading 14-0 in the first quarter and later 24-14 in the second half. On their go-ahead drive near the end of regulation, the Tomcats faced fourth-and-six from the JM 33, trailing 24-20. Lackey tried to find a receiver in the endzone with the game on the line but the pass fell incomplete. John Marshall was called for defensive pass interference, however, that gave Trimble 15 yards and a fresh set of downs. Lackey finished the drive by punching the ball in from six yards out.
“We can build off that, this isn’t any slouch team,” Faires said. “Especially for a small school as we are to come in and play a bigger school. We aren’t going to play a division-7 school in Ohio any time soon that’s the caliber of that team. We had quite a few plays that, if we make, we win the game. We didn’t make them and they did and that’s what good teams do. We’ll build off this.”
Coffield finished the game 10-of-19 passing for 139 yards and ran for 63 yards and two scores. Tailback Klypson Wallace ran 15 times for 72 yards and scored the Monarch’s other two touchdowns.
For Trimble, Downs ran for 23 yards and two touchdowns. Receiver Tucker Dixon caught five passes for 177 yards and a score.
“There was one team that scored more points than the other, but there was no loser on that field tonight,” Kropka said. “What an incredible high school football game and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.”
John Marshall 34, Trimble 33
JM 14 3 7 3 7 — 34
Trimble 7 7 0 13 6 — 33
JM — Coffield run 1 (Fitzpatrick kick)
JM — Wallace run 2 (Fitzpatrick kick)
T — Downs run 4 (Guffey kick)
T — Lackey run 3 (Guffey kick)
JM — Fitzpatrick 28 FG
JM — Wallace run 2 (Fitzpatrick kick)
T — Dixon pass 13 from Lackey (kick blocked)
T — Lackey run 6 (Guffey kick)
JM — Fitzpatrick 38 FG
T — Downs run 2 (kick missed)
JM — Coffield run 1 (Fitzpatrick kick)
RUSHING: John Marshall 34-144-4td (Wallace 15-72-2td, Coffield 15-63-2td, McCardle 3-6, Menendez 1-3). Trimble 35-157-4td (Lackey 29-134-2td, Downs 6-23-2 tds).
PASSING: John Marshall 10-19 139 (all Coffield). Trimble 10-24 128-1td-1int (all Lackey).
RECEIVING: John Marshall 10-139 (White 1-12, McCardle 2-26, Hughes 3-37, Moore 1-20, Wallace 1-13, Sobutka 1-14, Beckett 1-27). Trimble 10-248-1td (Dixon 5-177-1td, Guffey 1-13, Downs 1-(-6), Wisor 2-50, Freeborn 1-14).
FIRST DOWNS: John Marshall 19. Trimble 22.
PENALTIES: John Marshall 6-47. Trimble 10-113.
FUMBLES/LOST: Trimble 1/1.