Late TD helps Chiefs rally to remain undefeated
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Walsh's 47-yard catch-and-run touchdown reception lifts Logan to 27-22 victory over Meigs
By CRAIG DUNN Sports Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
LOGAN — It was a play the son of a coach will never forget.
On a night when junior Cody Bartrum, the son of Meigs head coach and former NFL player Mike Bartrum, nearly led the visiting Marauders to a huge upset of the Chieftains, it was Logan sophomore Brady Walsh who stole the show.
With the Purple & White trailing by three points and less than three minutes remaining, Walsh was all alone as he caught a short pass over the middle from quarterback Lane Little, split between a pair of Marauder defenders and cut past a Meigs defensive back to complete a 47-yard touchdown play.
That TD — the first of Walsh’s varsity career — put the Chiefs ahead with 2:35 left and Logan held on for a 27-22 victory in Logan Chieftain Stadium.
“And, you know, Brady happens to be the son of a coach (varsity assistant coach Pat Walsh), too,” he added. “You can go back to that coach’s son savvy. (Brady) makes a big catch in a timely spot, protects the ball and starts to head toward the end zone, and the hustle and effort that he had turned that into a huge play.”
The Chieftains (3-0) overcame deficits of 14-0 and 22-19 — the first time they had been behind all season — to emerge with their undefeated record still intact while dealing the Marauders (2-1) their first setback of the season.
Walsh — the son — admitted he didn’t expect to be that wide open in such a crucial situation.
“I caught the ball and I was really surprised to be that open,” Walsh said. “Two kids missed me and I was in the open field. I just couldn’t believe it. It was crazy just seeing the goal line and getting that touchdown.
“I saw (the defensive back) come in to the outside pretty hard so I just went back inside on him and he missed me,” he added. “It’s just crazy thinking about it right now. It gives me chills.”
And well it should. It’s appropriate on a night when rain came pouring down late in the first half and sent everyone on the field and in the stands home damp or drenched… but, in the case of Chieftain Nation, sent them home happy.
The Marauders were everything they were advertised to be: an athletic, unpredictable team that was entertaining to watch… if you weren’t trying to stop them.
And they were also patient. They almost beat the Chieftains at their own game.
Meigs ran a whopping 79 offensive plays to just 45 for the Chiefs and possessed the ball for over 28 minutes. Other than a kneel-down series in the final seconds, the Chiefs only had the ball for eight possessions, with Little tying a school record by throwing touchdown passes to finish off four of them.
“We just kept making them snap the ball and snap the ball again, and the philosophy is that eventually something will go in our favor,” Burke said. “And that’s how we were able to win this game. We kept making them snap the football.”
Meigs came out and took a 14-0 lead less than eight minutes into the game when Trae Hood capped off an 11-play, 65-yard drive with a 4-yard scoring run — Bartrum ran for the ensuing 2-point conversion — and Colton Lilly tallied six points on a 20-yard slant pass from Bartrum with 4:27 left in the opening stanza.
Bartrum would complete 20-of-29 passes for 209 yards — he did not play in Logan’s 55-7 rout last season at Meigs due to injury — and also carried the ball 23 times, though he wound up with only 35 rushing yards to show for it.
Logan closed within 14-13 at halftime. Little and Isaiah Smith hooked up on a familiar play — Smith leaped high into the air, over a defender, to haul in a 16-yard aerial from Little in the back right corner of the end zone with 54 seconds left in the opening period — and then took a short fourth-and-goal, 4-yard TD pass from Little just inside the near-right pylon with 7:35 remaining in the second stanza.
Meigs let two golden scoring chances slip away late in the first half — one of them literally — as Logan somehow stayed within that single point heading into the intermission.
The Marauders had first-and-goal from the Logan 7, only to see the series die when Chieftain defenders Kory Henthorne and Eddie Lanning broke through to record back-to-back sacks on third and fourth down, respectively.
Then, after the Chiefs fumbled the ball away at the Meigs 37 with 1:34 remaining in the half, Hood broke loose for a 45-yard run — defensive back Jenson Wallace made a touchdown-saving play at the Logan 18 — and the Marauders reached the Logan 1 with time running out.
But Meigs was out of timeouts and, in his hurry to try to kill the clock by spiking the ball, the wet pigskin slipped out of QB Bartrum’s hands not once but twice for fumbles. The Marauders recovered both, but the clock expired before they could get set to run one more play.
Burke had a sense his Chiefs might be in for a long night before the game even started.
“I told the kids at halftime that we’ve been in a couple different types of games and tonight at the half we were not in control of the game,” Burke said. “It was going to be a big test for us to see how we handled that.
“The biggest thing for us tonight was that we lacked the serious emotion that is necessary to play a game like this,” he continued. “From our guys who weren’t in, to our guys who were warming up before the game, I could tell by our lack of emotion that we weren’t quite ready.
“I also told them (the players) owe it to each other to pick it up for each other because you’ve been in way too many battles to let your buddy down by us not playing to the level that we are capable of. We lacked emotion and needed to pick it up.”
They did just that at the outset of the third period. Bryce McBride (154 yards rushing) broke a 29-yarder as the Chiefs drove into Meigs territory.
Two plays later, Little went deep for Wallace, who came back to make a leaping catch of a slightly-underthrown pass at the Meigs 7, then raced past the Meigs defenders into the end zone to complete a 37-yard scoring play with 10:04 left in the third stanza for a 19-14 Logan advantage.
Meigs came right back, however, and regained the lead. Kaileb Sheets took an inside handoff 27 yards to paydirt with 6:13 left in the third period to finish off an eight-play, 64-yard scoring drive, and Lilly caught a 2-point conversion pass from Bartrum to make it 22-19 Marauders.
The Meigs defense forced the Chiefs to punt on back-to-back possessions to keep a tenacious hold on that three-point edge as the clock ticked away.
But, when they got the ball back after a Logan punt with 4:36 remaining, the Marauders got away from what had worked well for them all night. They had a couple passes fall incomplete, stopping the clock and giving the Chiefs the ball on the Logan 34 with 4:08 to go.
For their part, the senior-led Chiefs remained calm.
“A little bit of that in the fourth quarter was maybe kind of a ‘we’ve been there, done that situation,’ “ Burke surmised. “In the ebb and flow of the Athens game (a season-opening 61-49 win), we kept responding, kept responding and kept responding (when Athens kept coming back). We kept our cool there and maybe Meigs didn’t, I don’t know, but it seemed we were still cool and calm.”
Little certainly was. He scrambled for 14 yards and a first down before the Chiefs crossed midfield and found themselves faced with third-and-seven from the MHS 47.
Enter Walsh. He took Little’s pass at the 41-yard line, bulled his way between two defenders at the 35, and found himself one-on-one with a DB inside the 15. The defender slid to his left while Walsh went the other way and into the end zone with 2:35 remaining.
Little then connected with Smith on a 2-point conversion pass to make it 27-22.
The Logan quarterback only completed seven passes all night (conversion attempts don’t count in passing statistics) but four of them went for TDs — not a bad ratio, to say the least.
On their final possession of the night, the Marauders reached the Logan 28 with 90 seconds remaining, but Colton Stilwell sacked Bartrum on second down and two Meigs passes fell incomplete as the Marauders turned the ball over on downs.
Logan then ran out the clock, with Stilwell picking up a game-clinching first down with a 13-yard run in the waning seconds.
The Purple & White look to make it a 4-0 start when they host Cambridge (2-1) next Friday in Logan Chieftain Stadium to conclude a run of three-straight home games.
“(Tonight) we learned a lot of lessons that we don’t have to teach in practice — there’s no way we can teach some of this stuff in practice — and I think our kids are learning what it takes to be a champion,” Burke said. “I don’t mean champion like in ‘I guarantee we’re going to have this, this or this championship,’ but a champion meaning you play as hard as you can, as well as you can, and you do it all the time.
“We’re learning how to do that,” he added, “and I’m pretty proud of our kids for stepping up each and every time we had adversity set in.”
“Hopefully there’s more to come,” Walsh said. “I feel really good about the season. We have a lot of seniors leading the team and I think we’re a playoff-bound team.”
It’s certainly obvious that something special is happening in Chieftain Football Nation this season.