GCMS football claims Class 2A state championship with 38-32 win over Maroa-Forsyth

DEKALB — Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley outlasted perennial powerhouse Maroa-Forsyth, 38-32, to bring home its first state championship in school history on Friday afternoon at Huskie Stadium.
While it was senior Mitch McNutt who carried the offense (32 carries for 139 yards) for the majority of the contest, the game-winning play came through the air. Junior Nathan Garard, who completed 3 of 8 passes in the game, as well as a pair of two-point conversions, connected with classmate Bryce Barnes for a 23-yard touchdown with 1:08 left in the game.
“That was a great high school football game between two really good teams and two really good programs,” GCMS coach Mike Allen said. “Our kids fought just like they have all year. They never got down (on themselves). We played as a team for 48 minutes, and that showed at the end.”
Garard’s pass to Barnes was the second time the two hooked up on the drive. Facing a 3rd and 7 from their own 28-yard line, Garard found Barnes for a 35 yard reception. After the crucial conversion, GCMS went back to its ground game, running seven straight plays.
“We knew that we could put together a drive and take some time off of the clock,” Allen said. “We have an outstanding kicker in Ben Freehill. We were only down by two, so if we had to kick it, we were going to. We were going to ground and pound until we needed (to pass).”
Then, when the junior duo’s numbers were called, Garard and Barnes were ready.
“It was great blocking by our line,” Barnes said. “He threw it up, and I just made a play on the ball.
“It was pretty amazing, but we had to go back out on defense and shut them down,” he added. “The defense did its job.”
The Falcons defense, which only gave up 81 points through 13 games, allowed 32 to the Trojans. And, for the second week in a row, GCMS entered the halftime locker room looking up to their opponents on the scoreboard.
“They were a very good team, a very good offense,” Falcons senior linebacker Luke Freehill said. “In the first half, we didn’t break down or wrap up very well.”
The poor tackling was evident on Maroa-Forsyth’s first scoring play, a 55-yard catch and run by Aaron Inda, who caught a short slant pass and accelerated through the Falcons defense to the end zone.
McNutt, who scored his first of three touchdowns on the ensuing Falcons possession, said he knew there was a good chance the game would be a high-scoring affair.
“We knew it was going to track race,” he said.
After a 3-and-out on the opening possession of the second half, Maroa-Forsyth increased its lead to 26-15 when Trojans running back Deondre Gregory sliced through the Falcons defense for a 36-yard touchdown.
Despite the double-digit deficit, Allen kept feeding McNutt. GCMS responded with eight-straight runs (six by McNutt), and on two of those runs, McNutt was hit late out of bounds. Those penalties helped the Falcons eat up big yardage quickly to get back within one score after McNutt punched the ball over the goal line.
“Our line did great,” McNutt said. “I just tried to bounce some runs and get as many yards as I could get.”
After Garard ran in the two-point conversion, GCMS was down only three, 26-23.
As the clock hit zero in the third quarter, Maroa-Forsyth received a GCMS punt at the 49-yard line. Trojans quarterback Ian Benner connected with Kameron Boline for a 13-yard gain on first down, and it looked as though the Falcons defense might not have enough left in its tank.
Then, Freehill planted Benner for a three-yard loss on the ensuing first down. On second down, McNutt knocked down a wide receiver screen. Finally, GCMS senior safety Brooks Schmitt broke up a third-down pass to force Maroa-Forsyth’s third-consecutive punt.
With the Trojans defense keying on McNutt, Allen dialed up a run by Jared Trantina. The junior fullback bounced the run outside and sprinted down the GCMS sideline for a 49-yard gain to put the Falcons at the Trojans 17-yard line.
After McNutt picked up six on first down, Allen again went away from the workhorse, calling Schmitt’s number. Schmitt took the jet sweep around the left side of the line to cross the goal line.
That score put GCMS up 30-26, but the lead was short-lived. On third down near midfield, Maroa-Forsyth went back to Inda - this time on a reverse. Inda, who scored three times in the game, weaved through the Falcons defense to put the Trojans back up 32-30. 
Knowing the importance of the extra point, GCMS put extra pressure up the middle of the Maroa-Forsyth line and got a hand on the kick. With the block leaving their deficit at only two points, Allen said it took some pressure off of the offense, knowing they had the wind and a kicker with the ability to put it through the uprights.
The final scoring drive took 5:16 off of the clock. And, after Garard and Barnes put GCMS up on the touchdown, the two hooked up a second time on the conversion to give the Falcons the six-point lead they would not relinquish.
“It’s all our team has talked about since our loss to Kewanee (Annawan-Weathersfield) in the second round (last year),” McNutt said. “I’m still in shock. It means everything.”
GCMS 38, Maroa-Forsyth 32
M-F 12    7    7    6    -- 32
GCMS 7     8    8   15   -- 38
Scoring summary
MF -- Aaron Inda 55 pass from Benner (kick failed)
GCMS -- McNutt 2 run (Ben Freehill kick)
MF -- Davenport 16 pass from Benner (run failed)
GCMS -- McNutt 6 run (Holt pass from Garard)
MF -- Aaron Inda 1 run (Fitzpatrick kick)
MF -- Gregory 36 run (Fitzpatrick kick)
GCMS -- McNutt 1 run (Garard run)
GCMS -- Schmitt 11 run (Ben Freehill kick)
MF -- Aaron Inda 52 run (kick failed)
GCMS -- Barnes 23 pass from Garard (Barnes pass from Garard)
Team stats MF GCMS
First downs 20 23
Rushes-yards 37-236 52-302
Passing yards 166 73
Pass att.-comp.-INTs 27-17-0 9-3-0
Total off. plays-yds. 64-402 61-375
Fumble returns-yards 0-0 0-0
Punt returns-yards 0-0 0-0
Kickoff returns-yards 1-0 6-64
Interceptions-yards 0-0 0-0
Punts-avg. yards 3-30.7 3-30.7
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-0
Penalties-yards 11-98 11-95
Time of possession 22:39 25:21
Third-down convs. 9-15 8-12
Fourth-down convs. 1-3 0-1
Red-zone convs. 2-2 5-6
Individual stats
RUSHING -- MF, Gregory 20-128, Aaron Inda 4-52, Benner 11-52, Boline 1-4. GCMS, McNutt 32-139, Trantina 14-132, Schmitt 3-17, Garard 3-14. 
PASSING -- MF, Benner 17-27-166-2-0. Garard 3-8-73-1-0, McNutt 0-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING -- MF, Hubbard 5-39, Boline 5-33, Davenport 4-33, Inda 1-55. GCMS, Chatman 1-35, Barnes 1-23, Holt 1-15. 
TACKLES -- MF, Hawbaker 11 (2.5 TFL), Andrew Inda 9, Mitchell 8, Falk 5 (1 TFL), Polansd 5 (0.5 TFL). GCMS, Trantina 11, Luke Freehill 8 (1 TFL, 1 sack), Short 7, Spiller 6 (2 TFL), Barnes 6 (0.5 TFL), Chatman 5 (2 TFL), Schmitt 4, McNutt 4 (2 TFL), Livingston 2, Garard 2 (0.5 TFL).
PUNTING -- MF, Benner 3-92. GCMS, Ben Freehill 3-92.
KICKOFFS -- MF, Falk 6-227. GCMS, Ben Freehill 6-294 (4 TB).
KICKOFF RETURNS -- MF, Morris 1-0. GCMS, Schmitt 3-29, McNutt 2-19, Trantina 1-16. 


Categories (3):Prep Sports, Football, Sports


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