With under five minutes left in the game, Meigs was forced to punt the football and give Alexander possession with a chance to take the lead.
Only down 12-6, the game was well within reach for the Spartans. Two offensive drives ago, they got on the board for the first time with a 38-yard touchdown from Logan Neal. They had done it recently, and now, momentum was on Alexander’s side to score again. Alexander might take a late lead as the game winded down.
As the Spartan offense took over, it felt like they might be able to do it. The rushing attack led the team down the field and brought Alexander to a first-and-10 on Meigs’ 30-yard line.
And then, woosh.
The ball flew over quarterback Xander Karagosian’s head on the snap. It went loose and live, and Karagosian had to fall on it to keep possession.
First-and-10 on Meigs’ 30-yard line turned into second-and-33 on the Alexander 47.
The Spartans’ (1-5, 1-4 TVC-Ohio) last chance to tie up the game was derailed by an unnecessary sloppy play, and Meigs (3-3, 3-2 TVC-Ohio) came away with a 12-6 victory to end the regular season.
If there’s anything that best summarizes Alexander’s offensive performance this season, it would be “unnecessary sloppy play that derailed a promising drive.” Coach Earich Dean knows it, and he needs it to change as the season winds down.
“It’s been the story all year offensively,” Dean said. “We talk to the team a lot. It doesn’t matter how good of a team you are: those type of things will not let you win football games. It’s something that’s hampered us this year really bad.”
For Dean, the most frustrating part of the offense’s inability to find stable play against the Marauders was that the defense played perhaps its best game of the season.
Coming away with five total turnovers, including three first-half interceptions and two second-half fumbles, the defensive unit worked to make sure Alexander had a chance in the game.
After Meigs’ opening drive where it marched down the field for a touchdown score, the Spartans didn’t allow much offensive momentum for the Marauders. And if anything did get going for them, Alexander would respond with a quick takeaway to swing favor back to its favor.
Meigs’ usual starting quarterback, Coulter Cleland, was out with a broken collarbone, and the Marauders had to start Wyatt Hoover in his place. Hoover played most of the year at receiver and hadn’t thrown much before Cleland’s injury. Knowing this, Dean made it a focal point to force the Marauders to beat Alexander in the air instead of on the ground, like they wanted.
The game plan worked as well as Dean could’ve hoped for defensively. Forcing Hoover to throw led to most of the five turnovers forced by the Spartans.
“(Hoover) made some mistakes that we were able to capitalize on tonight,” Dean said. “We knew going in that we were going to see a lot of him running the ball, and I thought our defensive line and linebackers did a great job. After that first drive, they really stuffed the run.”
The defense more than pulled its weight, but the offense just couldn’t stop making sloppy mistakes in order for the Spartans to get in the win column for the second time on the season.