LIMA — Long plays and turnovers doomed the Patriots against a postseason powerhouse Saturday in the Division VII state semifinal at Spartan Stadium, as Patrick Henry fell 40-6 to Marion Local.
The Flyers are going to their ninth-straight state final with the win, while the Patriots are left to reflect on a run that was.
“I thought we would be able to give them a better game than what we did,” Patrick Henry coach Bill Inselmann said. “I thought this was as good as we’ve matched up against them. They’re obviously a good football team, we didn’t do that, so hats off to them.”
Quarterback TJ Rhamy finished with 90 yards passing, completing seven of 16 passes with two interceptions. Rhamy also ran 11 times, picking up 59 yards and scoring one touchdown.
Running back Wil Morrow gained 68 yards on the ground across 13 carries while pulling in two passes for 45 yards, while Timmy Johnson caught two balls for 17 yards. Kolton Holloway caught one pass for 15 yards.
The Flyers got the scoring started after a punt from Rhamy pinned Marion Local back at the 3-yard line, setting up a 97-yard touchdown run from Peyton Otte on the sweep to the left with 8:47 remaining in the first quarter.
After forcing a Patrick Henry three-and-out, Marion Local quarterback Kyle Muhlenkamp hit Charles Huelsman on the play-action pass for a 71-yard touchdown, putting the Flyers up 13-0 with 5:13 left in the first frame.
The Patriots marched downfield on the ensuing drive in an attempt to answer, but Rhamy’s pass to the end zone on second-and-nine from the Marion Local 25 was intercepted to set up a seven-play, 80-yard drive capped by a four-yard touchdown run from Brandon Fleck that put the Flyers up 19-0 with 9:37 left before halftime.
After another three-and-out gave Marion Local the ball back at the Flyers’ 30, Johnson recovered a fumble to set up the Patriots from the 36 with a chance to pull within two scores.
Huelsman put an end to the threat, making a diving interception at the Flyers’ 8-yard line four plays later that set up a 92-yard touchdown from Muhlenkamp to Huelsman that stretched the lead to 26-0 with 6:08 to go before halftime.
Muhlenkamp completed 10 of 12 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns, with all three going to receiver Charles Huelsman, who caught seven targets for 250 yards.
Huelsman pulled in his third score of the half, a diving catch on a 13-yard throw from Muhlenkamp, with 1:26 to go in the second quarter to push Marion Local up 33-0 and enact a running-clock at the start of the second half.
“We couldn’t give up the big plays we gave up,” Inselmann said. “Not only do they score, it’s demoralizing. We did have a nice drive there, and then we had a key turnover. That didn’t help either, not getting that one drive in there. But they had big plays on offense, so we have to give them a lot of credit.”
Patrick Henry turned the ball over on downs on the first play of the third quarter, setting up a 10-play, 45-yard drive, capped by a nine-yard run from Otte that gave the Flyers a 40-0 advantage with 2:07 left in the frame.
Rhamy marched the Patriots downfield on the next possession, completing three of four passes for 49 yards before scoring on the ground from four yards out to put PH on the board at 40-6 with 7:39 left in the game, but the running clock allowed the Flyers to finish out the win and advance to their ninth-straight state final.
Otte scored two touchdowns on the ground, gaining 104 yards on four carries, while Fleck scored one touchdown to go with 46 yards across 10 touches. Otte also caught two passes for 28 yards.
The Flyers out-gained the Patriots 489-224, rushing for 201 yards while holding PH to 134 on the ground.
Patrick Henry was whistled for two penalties, totaling 10 yards, while Marion Local lost 36 yards to three penalties.
“We’re going to miss these seniors,” Inselmann said of a core group of players that won 17 games, one Northwest Ohio Athletic League title and a regional crown in the last two years. “I told them that we didn’t play as well as I thought we might tonight, but it does not diminish what we did in this playoff run. There’s a lot of people who would love to get to the Final Four, so I’m really proud of what our seniors did last year and this year.”
Inselmann said he hopes his program, which graduates 10 seniors, continues to gain confidence on the backs of a long postseason run.
“I’d like to think that they’d get some confidence from that,” Inselmann said. “Hopefully we’ll build on that in the future.”
Patrick Henry’s season ends with a record of 10-4, while Marion Local (12-2) advances to play Lucas in the Division VII state championship game. The Cubs defeated Harvest Prep 15-12 in the other semifinal.