MARION CENTER — Eleven yards were all that stood between Marion Center and its second win of the season, but the Stingers couldn’t convert on four tries and their hopes were dashed.
With Marion Center facing fourth-and-10 from the 11 on its final possession of the game, Blake Orr looked for Noah Hoover, his favorite receiver on the night, on a screen play, but Shade’s Tyler Kline snuffed it out and the Panthers beat Marion Center, 13-6, in a non-conference football game Friday night at John R. Mallino Stadium.
“The kids battled hard tonight,” Stingers coach Dave Malicky said. “We were knocking at the door in the end — just couldn’t get it done.”
With play starting to get sloppy in the second half — the teams combined for 13 penalties for 157 yards, and Stingers defensive end James Holley was ejected — the Stingers found themselves in striking distance late.
After Orr threw interceptions on back-to-back drives, the Stingers had one more chance. Following a three-and-out aided by a holding call against the Panthers, the Stingers took over on their own 45-yard line. After two quick incompletions, Orr hooked up with Hoover for 31 yards to the Shade 24-yard line, and a roughing-the-passer call against the Panthers set up the Stingers at the 11.
After three incompletions, Shade stopped Marion Center on the fourth-down screen play.
“That was a heck of a catch by Noah,” Malicky said. “I’m just proud of how we battled until the end. We just couldn’t make that final big play.”
In a game that featured two running attacks — 76 of the teams’ 100 plays were runs — the outcome came down to the Stingers’ passing game. Orr completed 6 of 18 passes for 127 yards, and Hoover caught five passes for 103 yards. He also rushed for 33 yards on 11 carrries.
Shade’s Kline led all rushers with 132 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries.
Marion Center outgained the Panthers 243-184, but Shade led in rushing, 161-116.
Marion Center took a 6-0 lead in the second quarter on Zach Edwards’ 5-yard run.
Shade took the lead on Kline’s 5-yard run and B.J. Spangler’s extra-point kick and held a 7-6 edge at halftime.
The Panthers extended the lead on the first possession of the second half, marching 77 yards on 15 plays that included seven runs by Kline. He scored from the 3.
“We just couldn’t stop him,” Malicky said. “I thought we did OK defensively, but we gave up some big plays that I thought we would stop — just little things. We’ll get there.”
The Stingers play host to winless United next week.
“We’re a young team,” Malicky said. “We’ll have an even younger team next week with injuries and other factors. We’ll have a bunch of underclassmen playing next week because that’s about what is left at this point.”