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Bessemer Academy squeaks by Longhorns

LINDEN – Marengo Academy had plenty of chances to pull off an upset in Linden last night. Hosting the top-ranked Bessemer Academy Rebels, the Longhorns came within striking distance in the second half but costly turnovers led the Rebels to a 47-34 win.

Bessemer is the top team in Class AAA AISA. Marengo is 5-5 for the season and has already earned a spot in Class AAA as the fourth seed.

Bessemer jumped out front early in the first quarter. After only a minute and half into the game, quarterback Garrett Pinciotti found Michael Sellers for a 70-yard touchdown hookup. The point after kick was off, putting the Rebels up by six before Marengo had a chance at their first possession.

Down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, Kyle Schroeder drove the kick-off return to the Rebel’s 23-yard line, putting the Longhorns in excellent shape to put something on the scoreboard. Josh Montee drove the ball to the one-yard line in three successive drives, setting up a quarterback push by Jesse Morgan for the score with 40 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

The Longhorns dug in, playing tough and holding Bessemer off in the Rebels next two drives and forcing two turnovers in the second quarter.

Halfway through the second quarter Marengo had an excellent opportunity to tie the game Jesse Morgan picked off Pinciotta pass to set the Longhorns up at the 33-yard line. The momentum would be short-lived. In the first play of Marengo’s drive, Morgan was pressured into a costly mistake, pegging Bessemer’s Barr for an interception.

The Rebels took full advantage of the change in fortune to drive the ball to the Longhorn’s 18-yard line where a Sellers’ pass found Harris Gaston in the end zone. Sellers then tossed the ball to Barr for the two-point conversion, putting the Rebels up 22-7 with 2:53 minutes left in the half.

Another turnover plagued Marengo immediately. In the kickoff return Tim Barkley fumbled the ball for the Longhorns, which was recovered on Marengo’s 30 yard-line by the Rebel’s Angelo Thompson.

Bessemer looked as if they had missed their chance to capitalize on the mistake as a quarterback sack and two consecutive penalties drove the Rebels back to midfield. Then, with only 36-seconds left in the half Pinciotta connected with Barr for a touchdown pass. The Pat was no good, capping the first half off at 28-7.

The early lead by Bessemer didn’t seem to faze the Longhorns as they came out of the locker room ready to make the Rebels fully earn any chance for victory. A fumble by Bessemer in their opening drive set up a reversal of fortune aiding Longhorns’ Montee to drive the ball into the end zone, keeping Marengo’s hopes for an upset alive.

Bessemer kicked off their next drive at their own 24-yard-line and was forced to punt from their own nine.

Marengo was sitting on their 36-yard-line after trying to break through with a run by Montee when Matt Wallace, in the quarterback post, threw a halfback pass to Morgan who connected with Kyle Schroeder at the Rebels’ 8-yard-line. It took four plays, but eventually Montee ran the ball in for another touchdown. Added by the PAT, the Longhorn’s came within reach of a major upset, but the chance would be short-lived.

Bessemer answered back with two consecutive touchdowns – a one run quarterback sneak by Sellers and fumble recovery buy Quinn Graham for an easy end zone jog. The two point conversion attempts were no good putting the rebels up 40-21 at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

The Longhorns didn’t give up. In their opening two plays of the fourth quarter Morgan ran the ball in from midfield. The Pat was good, making the score 40-28.

Bessemer again would answer back in the following drive with a drive that culminated with a one-yard push by Sellers for pay dirt. The PAT was good. Giving the Rebels a 47-28 advantage.

The last scoring play of the night would fall into the hands of the Longhorns as a missed punt put the ball on the Rebel’s 15 yard-line with over a minute left to play. Marengo quickly took advantage of it and used a Wallace pass to Wood Collins to cap the game with a 47-34 total.

“Bessemer has a tough team and our guys hung in there and played hard,” said Marengo coach Jesse Little. “We had four turnovers that really cost us, but I am proud of the way our guys never quit.”

Next week, Marengo Academy will wind up their regular season on the road to Southern Academy in a non-region match-up at Greensboro.