Marceline's football season came to a screeching halt on Friday night.
In a game that was never within the Tigers' grasp after the early stages, the Westran Hornets defeated the home team in the district championship, 42-16.
The Tigers finish their season 11-1, and a step shallow of the quarterfinal game in which Marceline finished its season last year.
"Obviously, nobody likes losing," Marceline coach Greg Hough said. "Only one team in Class 1 football is going to end it a winner. We had hopes, we had dreams, we had preparation to be that team. We came up short tonight, and Westran did a fantastic job of making plays."
Westran, after dominating Fayette and the Black Rage on back-to-back Fridays, has avenged both of its losses and now travels on the 10th to face the team arguably most favored to win state at the Class 1 level, Monroe City.
Marceline was clicking early in Friday night's lopsided loss, marching down the field on the game's opening possession. After a penalty on a provisionally successful field goal attempt gave Marceline fresh downs from Westran's four yard line, Lewis & Clark offensive player of the year Rylan Chrisman punched it in to give the home side a 7-0 advantage less than two-and-a-half minutes into the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, however, the tone was set for the remainder of the ballgame. Westran's Avery Hammond rumbled down the sideline for six. Following the converted extra point attempt, the Tigers never saw another lead.
On the following Marceline possession, the Tigers went three-and-out and a botched Alex McCauslin punt attempt put Westran within striking distance from the jump. After taking over at Marceline's 23, the Hornets' big, physical receiver Chris Evans snatched a 16-yard Alex Young ball out of the air and shouldered his way across the goal line.
Both teams' next possessions stalled, and the next scoring play came with under a minute remaining in the first quarter when Marceline was jammed at the 10-yard line and Cullen Bruner converted a field field goal to bring his team back within 14-10.
Evans scored again from 11 yards out with a minute left in the half, and Westran carried a 21-10 lead into the halftime break.
On Marceline's first possession of the second half, Levi Terrell reeled in a touchdown, but the ensuing two-point conversion was unsuccessful in hopes of bringing the Tigers back within a field goal.
After Terrell's six-point grab, Westran would score on every possession for the remainder of the game aside from kneeling the clock out with little time remaining.
"Our kids have played extremely well the past four weeks," Westran coach Lance Massey said. "We really feel like we put some things together. When you give us a little extra motivation, our kids know how to get ready for a football game, and they did that the past two weeks."
Marceline threw the football 44 times on Friday night, with Chase Billups completing exactly half of them for 264 yards. Terrell had 15 grabs for 187 yards, and Clayton Stallo caught five balls for 34 yards.
Chrisman got his standard complement of carries with his 21 rushes totaling for 116 yards. Fifty-six of those yards came on back-to-back carries of 42 and 16 yards on a drive in which the Tigers would have to settle for a field goal.
After allowing just 57 points throughout the course of its first 11 games combined, Marceline was simply unable to stop Westran once Young and Evans began to click. Young finished with a pair of rushing touchdowns, and found Evans for three more.
"Their big playmakers made big plays," Hough said. "Unfortunately, tonight, we weren't able to make those plays on our side. It's difficult, but we fell short. If it doesn't hurt, you ain't going to learn from it.
"We graduated a class of 16 seniors last year. We had a ton of one-way and two-way starters this year who hadn't touched the field on a Friday night, and those kids end up being all-conference players and have grown into better men. They'll never forget playing between the white lines at Chester Ray Stadium, and that's something to be proud of. I worked my butt off, my kids worked their butts off, and that's why it hurts."