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Marengo takes tough OT loss to McIntosh

With a muddy, mucky field and ultra-high humidity, it should come as no surprise that at times, the football game between No. 8 McIntosh and host Marengo resembled a game of keepaway than a high school football game.

Marengo gave up five fumbles in the first half, but the defense held McIntosh to a 6-0 halftime lead. A 57-yard punt return for a touchdown by sophomore Eddie Kimbrough knotted the game at 6-6 in the third quarter, and a late interception by senior James Bennett held the score through regulation. In the first extra period, however, the Panthers were unable to score, and the Demons were able to punch it in on a one-yard quarterback keeper to escape with a 12-6 win.

After recovering a fumble on Marengo’s first possession at the Panther 35, McIntosh (4-0 overall, 4-0 1A Region 1) used seven plays, capping the drive with a four-yard run by senior Darrel Hill for the first score of the game. The Demons were flagged twice illegal procedure on the conversion attempt, and eventually, the pass to the endzone failed, giving McIntosh a 6-0 lead with 6:37 left in the first quarter.

The Panthers (1-3, 0-3) fumbled the ball away on their next possession, but the Marengo defense held near midfield, sacking quarterback Jerome Haley on third-and-6 to force McIntosh to punt.

The Panthers fumbled the ball away on the punt return, but after four plays, the Demons also turned the ball over on a fumble. On its second play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive, Marengo again fumbled the ball away at its own 42-yard line.

Despite a 21-yard run by Quatell Land to begin the next Demon drive, McIntosh stalled at the Marengo 20 and turned the ball over on downs. Two plays later, the Panthers gave up their fifth fumble of the half at its own 23. A 14-yard penalty backed McIntosh up and a 17-yard loss on a bad snap pushed the Demons back even further, forcing them to punt.

Marengo got as far as the McIntosh 15 with 48 seconds left in the half, but were unable to go any farther, turning the ball over on downs just before halftime.

On the first drive of the second half, Marengo recovered a fumble at the Panther 48, but was forced to punt the ball away. After five plays, McIntosh was also forced to punt the ball back to Marengo.

Kimbrough took the punt from the Marengo 43 and tore down the left sideline, going 57 yards for a Panther touchdown. The point-after attempt failed, but the game was tied at 6-6 with 1:37 left in the third quarter.

The teams exchanged drives from that point, but McIntosh began a strong drive late in regulation, pushing the ball to the Panther 40 before Haley tossed a pass that was picked off by Bennett and returned 25 yards to the Marengo 40, halting a potentially game-winning drive with 31.5 seconds remaining. The Panthers were unable to move the ball, forcing extra periods.

McIntosh won the coin toss and allowed Marengo to have the first possession of the extra period from the 10-yard line. Sophomore Antheryius Aldridge gained three yards on his first attempt and another yard after that, getting the ball to the 6. Kimbrough punched it another three yards to the 3, but the McIntosh defense held Michael Watkins at the line of scrimmage to prevent a score.

On McIntosh’s possession, Rodney Hill ran nine yards toward the left pylon, but fell a foot short of the goal line. Haley punched in the quarterback keeper for the game-winning score.

Marengo finished with 143 yards of total offense, with 85 yards on 31 carries, led by Watkins, who had 42 yards on nine carries. Bennett completed two passes for 58 yards, including a 40-yarder to Jamarcus Agee.

McIntosh had 180 yards on the ground on 47 carries, with Hill rushing for 75 yards on 13 carries. The Demons were flagged 12 times for 94 yards, while the Panthers had four penalties for 25 yards.

Marengo had five fumbles lost — all in the first half — while McIntosh had three fumbles lost, with two of those coming in the second half.

“At halftime, I just told them that the linemen had to block and to hold onto the football,” said Marengo head coach James Rutherford. “We just need to keep working towards our goal and keep working together like a family, and we’re going to be all right.”

Marengo stays at home to host Region 1 rival J.U. Blacksher on Friday, while McIntosh returns home to face region foe Butler County Magnet.