WELLSTON, Ohio — With dreams of a TVC title and playoff aspirations on the line, the Wellston Golden Rockets hosted a Meigs Marauder team that has struggled to find its identity this season.
If the Golden Rockets went into the game thinking it would be a cake walk, they had another thing coming.
The Golden Rockets, with a strong second half, defeated the Marauders 42-34 in a contest that had fans on the edge of their seats until the final play.
The Golden Rockets (7-2, 4-1 TVC Ohio) spotted the Marauders a 14-6 halftime lead, but Jonathon Garvin sparked a Wellston comeback in the second half. Garvin carried 18 times after intermission for 135 of his 162 yards to pace the Golden Rockets.
The Golden Rocket comeback overshadowed another outstanding performance by the Marauders outstanding sophomore quarterback Coulter Cleland, who threw for what is thought to be a school record 372 yards. Wyatt Hoover caught nine passes for 201 yards for the maroon and gold.
Missed opportunities hurt Meigs (1-8, 0-5) as it had the ball on or inside the Golden Rockets 25 yard line five times, but failed to score. The guests also lost a fumble in the third period at the Wellston 27.
The Marauders took advantage of a Kyler Ashburn interception on the first play offensive for Wellston. Cleland completed the 55 yard Marauder scoring drive with a two yard run.
Meigs increased the lead 14-0 at the 9:02 mark of the first half when Wyatt Hoover intercepted a pass. Three plays later facing a fourth and nine from the Golden Rocket 13, Cleland hit Lundy out of the backfield for the score. Jake McElroy added the extra points on a pass from Cleland.
The Golden Rockets pulled to within 14-6 at the half when Hunter Smith pulled in an 18 yard pass from RJ. Kemp
It didn’t take long for Wellston to get things going in the second half. Three straight pass completions by Kemp, the last a 10 yard pass to Evan Brown, tied the game at 14-all just 1:40 into the second half. Kemp added to the Wellston lead with a four yard run with 2:48 left in the third to make it 22-14.
The Marauders battled back as Lundy scored on a 20 yard run to pull the Marauder to within 22-20. That score was set up the play before, when Cleland hit Hoover for 56 yards.
Hoover with excellent second and third efforts on the play, broke tackles to set up the score. Meigs looked to be in business recovering an onside kick, but the Marauders fumbled and Wellston recovered at their own 27 to end the threat.
Four plays later and the first play of the fourth period, Smith made it a 30-20 Wellston advantage on a 27 yard pass from Kemp. A Kemp nine yard run with 9:42 left made it a 36-20 Golden Rocket advantage with 9:42 left.
That set up a wild 1:16 stretch in the contest. Hoover pulled in a 48 yard pass from Cleland at the 9:09 mark, then a Hoover reception from Cleland on the extra points made it 36-28.
It took Wellston just three plays to score when Kemp hit Smith once again, this time from 21 yards out to go back on top 42-28.
But came came the Marauders, on first down Cleland hit Hoover over the middle for a 60 yard scoring strike to cut the Wellston lead to 42-34 with 7:45left.
Meigs forced a Wellston punt on the ensuing possession taking over at their own nine. The
Marauders drove to the Golden Rocket 19, but Cleland fourth down pass fell incomplete … and Wellston escaped with the win.
Cleland was 18 of 39 in the air for 372 yards and three scores. Hoover caught nine passes for 201 and Lundy added five for 94. Lundy led the Marauders on the ground with 82 yards in nine carries. Cleland added 45 in nine tries and Noah Metzger 17 in seven attempts.
Garvin had a game high 162 yards in 25 carries. Kemp added 12 carries for 96 and Wellston’s outstanding running back Rylan Molihan had 50 in five carries before leaving the game with an injury.
Meigs will close out the season with a very rare Thursday night contest next week when they host Alexander.
Dave Harris is a sports correspondent for Ohio Valley Publishing.