Kirtland beats Marion Local, 22-20, in Division VI final


COLUMBUS (AP) — Kirtland rallied behind running back Joey Bates to defeat beat four-time defending champion Maria Stein Marion Local 22-20 Friday in the Division VI state final.

Bates ran for 161 of his 206 yards and two touchdowns in the second half when the Hornets (14-1) overcame a 13-0 halftime deficit to win their third championship. Kirtland won titles in 2011 and 2013 and was runner-up last season.

“The offensive line opened up big holes for me,” Bates said.

Marion Local (13-2) had a state-record 24-game playoff win streak snapped. Its previous two titles came in the small-school Division VII.

Bates went 57 yards up the middle on a fourth-and-1 with 2:08 left to give the Hornets a 20-13 lead and quarterback Owen Lewis passed to Evan Madden for a 2-point conversion.

Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde said he was going for it on fourth down even though Marion Local (13-2) would have had great field position if the Flyers made the stop.

“We wanted to go for the win there,” he said.

Marion Local still had time and the Flyers scored with 1:22 remaining on an 11-yard pass from Cole Griesdorn to Hunter Wilker, but could not recover an onside kick.

Earlier, Lewis’ run from 2 yards with 4:08 left in the game gave Kirtland a 14-13 lead after Griesdorn fumbled at the Kirtland 3.

“I felt good at halftime,” Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin said. “Our defense was playing well and the offense was moving the ball. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times. Give Kirtland credit.”

Marion Local went up 6-0 in the first quarter on Aaron Nietfeld’s 5-yard rush. Griesdorn found Matt Kahlig for a 14-yard scoring pass with 3:23 left in the first for a 13-0 lead. Bates ran in from the 1 with 3:52 left in the third quarter to make it 13-7.

By Craig Merz

Associated Press

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