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Football: Marcus survives Farmer rally to retain Axe
Marcus head football coach Bryan Erwin knows what it's like to lose his two starting quarterbacks to an injury in the same season.
He now knows what it's like to be without his starting running back as well.
But Erwin still hasn't experienced losing The Battle of the Axe.
Marcus won its sixth-straight Axe game Friday in a 24-21 victory over Lewisville. The Farmers haven't won the annual showdown since the year before Erwin took over at Marcus.
The win pushes the Marauders' record to 1-1 in District 5-5A (2-5 overall) while the Farmers drop to 1-6, 0-2.
Perhaps just as important for Marcus is the knowledge of what the team can do even without some of its starting core.
The Marauders lost sophomore quarterback Cade Erwin last week against Denton Ryan when he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and is done for the season. Cole Erwin, the team's No. 1 quarterback at the start of the season, was injured during a scrimmage.
Marcus also lost junior starting running back Mark Demery though the coach said he will likely be back next week.
Senior running back Wyatt Verret filled in for Demery and ended up leading Marcus' offense.
"This was a huge win and was a real team effort," Bryan said. "I'm proud of these guys. We played well in all three facets of the game. They showed a lot of heart."
But late in the game, it looked like Lewisville's rally was going to steal the show.
Trailing 17-0 at the half, Lewisville began its run when Tyus Williams recovered a fumble off Marcus' punt return in the third quarter. The Farmers got on the board on Deandre Brown's 37-yard touchdown run just two plays later.
After forcing Marcus to punt, Lewisville scored again with 1:31 left in the third quarter when junior quarterback Matt McDougal connected with Jocqui Davis on a fake-handoff play that resulted in a 44-yard touchdown pass, cutting the Farmer deficit to 17-14.
"That fumble recovery was a big moment for us," said Lewisville head coach Gregg Miller. "Before, that type of thing happened to us. I told our guys that now they're in our boat."
Marcus expanded the lead with 8:10 left in the fourth quarter when senior running back Court Prescott scored from a yard out to make it 24-14.
There was still some fight left for Lewisville, though.
With about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, McDougal connected on a 1-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Brent Alvarez to pull the Farmers to within three points.
McDougal had led the Farmers' 70-yard drive with three completions of 22 yards or more to three different receivers to set up the scoring play.
But the Marauders controlled the clock in their last possession to hold on to the win.
Marcus' first-half play proved to be huge. Verret scored on a 7-yard run in the final seconds of the first quarter. Prescott's short run and Tyler Mouton's 40-yard field goal gave Marcus its 17-0 lead at halftime.
Verret ran for 76 yards in the first half but turned it on more in the second half by finishing the night with 189 yards on 36 carries.
"He stepped up tonight," Bryan said. "We knew he had it in him. He just had to step up and do it."
Senior quarterback Ryan Vaughn, playing in just his second game at quarterback since his sophomore year, mixed in the passing game as well, completing 11 of 15 passes for 126 yards between senior receiver Logan Sepanek and freshman tight end Kaden Smith.
Miller credited Bryan for keeping his team together despite the string of injuries.
"To lose two sons to injuries in the same year, I can't imagine that," Miller said. "It's debilitating. It's so easy to fold up, but they haven't done that. My hat's off to them."
Miller credited his own team for not folding up after a feeble first half. Lewisville entered halftime with 115 total yards compared to Marcus' 204.
"We realized that our team wasn't playing inspired," Miller said. "I thought they would be ready to go for a game like this. So I called on our seniors. I asked them if this is how they wanted to finish it out. It's not a good feeling to lose, but at least we came back the way we did. We did everything in the second half that we needed to do."
McDougal completed 7-of-8 passes for 132 yards in the second half and five of his completions were for 10 yards or more. He finished the night 14-for-18 with 193 yards and no interceptions.
Davis led Lewisville receivers with 88 yards on five catches.
Brown rushed 20 times for 91 yards.