CHESTER – Maroa-Forsyth scored 35 unanswered points to break open a 14-12 game and beat Chester, 49-12, in the second round of the Class 2A football playoffs held at W.O. Smith Field Saturday.
“The first half we gave them pretty much all they could handle,“ said Chester coach Billy Belton. “However, against a good team the ball has to bounce your way and you can’t turn the ball over and that’s what happened today.”
Maroa-Forsyth (11-0) advances to the quarterfinals and will play Tuscola while Chester finishes at 7-4 after its farthest advance into the playoffs since making it to the quarterfinals in 2014.
“The seniors worked hard even in the off-season last November to now to have this success,” Belton said. “The team kept fighting despite being down 7-0 and 14-6 to the No. 2 team in the state and I’m proud of their effort. I told the seniors the loss is going to hurt, but to remember all the good times they’ve had here. Only a select few teams have a home playoff game with this being only the fourth home playoff game in our history.”
The Yellow Jackets turned the ball over six times on three fumbles and three interceptions that led to three of the Trojan seven touchdowns, including losing a fumble on its first play from scrimmage.
Chester’s defense forced three fumbles that stopped two drives inside the Chester three-yard line in the first half and near midfield to open the second half. The Yellow Jackets also stopped a Trojan drive on downs at the Chester five to open the fourth quarter.
Maroa rushed for 289 yards on 36 carries led by Gavin Gilbert with 113 on 11 carries. The Trojans passed for 160 yards completing 13-of-18 passes. Defensively, the Trojans held Chester to 30 yards rushing on 37 carries while Nick Meyer completed 15-of 24 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns
Chester trailed 14-12 with 9:50 remaining in the first half, but a 31-yard punt return set up a Maroa touchdown with 3:07 remaining to take a 21-12. The Trojans intercepted Meyer at their 30 with 23.3 remaining to take that lead into halftime.
The Trojans dominated the second half scoring twice in both the third and fourth quarters while shutting out the Yellow Jackets by intercepting Meyer two more times and forcing two more fumbles, which directly led to two touchdowns.
In the second half, Ian Benner threw two touchdown passes of 21 yards to Hicks and three yards to Max Davenport. Bryson Boes came off the bench in the third quarter to rush for 63 yards on six carries, including a 12-yard touchdown run. Wade Jostes replaced Benner with 6:04 remaining in the game and threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Torbert on his only pass.
After Keith Kiner III slipped on the opening kickoff just as he was about to break down the left sideline Meyer fumbled the opening hand-off setting up the Trojans at the Chester 17. Two plays later Clifton scored from the six. After Reilly Fitzpatrick kicked the extra point Maroa-Forsyth led 7-0 just 34 seconds into the game.
However, Chester came right back marching 75 yards on 13 plays to score on a 22-yard pass from Meyer to Ethan Rayburn on 3rd-and-11. The two-point conversion run failed and the Yellow Jackets trailed 7-6 with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter.
The Trojans had drove from its own 23 to the Chester eight when Clifton fumbled again and Ethan Bert recovered at the two. However, the Trojan defense forced a punt from the two to get the ball back at the 24.
Four plays later Benner shoved a two-handed shuttle pass to Drew Hicks for a three-yard touchdown. Fitzpatrick kicked the point and the Trojans led 14-6 with 43 seconds left in the first quarter.
Chester responded again. Starting at its own 18 and facing a 3rd-and-10 Meyer connected with Bert for a 68-yard catch and run down to the Trojan 10. After losing a two yards and facing 4th down Meyer threw a bullet to a triple covered Kiner for the touchdown for his 21st touchdown pass of the season setting a new personal record. This time the two-point pass failed leaving the Yellow Jackets down 14-12 with 9:50 left in the half.
The Yellow Jackets defense forced another fumble as the Trojans were driving recovered by Devin Straight at the Chester three. An illegal participation penalty for 15 yards gave Chester some breathing room, but the drive stalled at the 29.
Hicks received Bollman‘s punt at the Maroa 39 and returned it down the right sideline for 31 yards to the Chester 30. Four plays later Clifton scored from the 10 and after Fitzpatrick’s kick the Trojan led 21-12 with 3:07 left.
The Yellow Jackets took over at their own 25 with 3:01 remaining. Following a sack and facing a 3rd-and-19 from the 16 Meyer connected with Bollman for 18 yards. Meyer got the first down on a two-yard sneak.
Chester advanced to the Maroa 37 on a Meyer to Bert 18-yard pass, but Cody Marsh intercepted Meyer at the 21 to end the threat. Marsh also intercepted Meyer near midfield with 7:26 remaining in the third quarter and Noah Halthaus had the third interception with 1:08 left in the quarter at the Maroa 40.
Meyer finished the game and his Yellow Jacket career completing 15-of-24 passes for 215 yards and two touchdown passes.