Any doubts that the Marceline football team had about the way its 2017 season ended have been totally dispelled.
The Tigers handed Westran its second loss of the season on Friday night, 14-12, at a wet and mucky Chester Ray Stadium. Both of the Marceline scoring drives occupied exactly one play.
"That's a good ball club, and they made some great adjustments," Marceline coach Mark Ross said. "It was a wild ball game. Those two big plays are plays we've been working on, and kudos to our kids for executing."
After Marceline quarterback Chase Billups threw an ill-advised interception -- one of his three -- in the Westran end zone five minutes into the game, a long Westran drive was halted by a turnover on downs.
On the following play, Marceline's Desmond Fessler, formerly Harrison, took a seven-yard crossing route 78 yards to the end zone to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead.
"We've been working on that all week," Fessler said. "When coach called that play, I knew that was going to happen. We knew they were breaking down right when that happened, and we had to take advantage of that and keep that going.
"This was the time to redeem ourselves from last year. We knew what that feeling was, and we put it all out on the line."
Two possessions later, Marceline's Clayton Stallo busted a sweep down the home sideline 83 yards for a touchdown that would prove to be all the Tigers needed.
Marceline took that 14-0 lead into the half.
"On Clayton's long run, we saw some things they were doing defensively and we wanted to exploit that," Ross said. "We were thinking to maybe get an eight or 10 yard game, and he did what he always does. We have to keep finding ways to get the ball into (Stallo's) hands and get him into space."
Westran's first touchdown came on its second drive of the second half when the Hornets took a fourth-and-nine from the Marceline 35 down to the seven and scored on the next play.
Westran's latter touchdown occurred with 5:30 as the Hornet quarterback Alex Young threw a dump route over the middle for a 36-yard touchdown, but the two-point conversion attempt was shut down at the goal line. That score came just two plays after a Marceline punt deep in its own territory was blocked.
On the final drive of the game, Westran began at its own 25 after a Marceline punt, and the Hornets were unable to punch deep into Marceline territory. Questionable clock management forced Westran to throw a Hail Mary with under two seconds, and that final play was intercepted.
"I thought our effort was good in the second half, but we shot ourselves in the foot one too many times," Westran coach Aaron O'Laughlin said. "Ultimately, their defense beat us. We had a couple missed assignments that they took advantage of, they executed well when they needed to, and it's really as simple as that."
Marceline finishes its regular season at home next week against a Harrisburg team that has won just six games since 2014.