By Dan McGrath
OK, Doc, what else you got?
Dr. Marques Stevenson’s debut as Leo High School’s football coach was a resounding success—a 20-19 victory over Bishop McNamara at St Rita’s Doyle Field on Friday, August 25.
But “resounding success” is underselling it. The win featured as dramatic a finish as any in which the Lions have been involved in their 97-year history.
On the last play of the game, with Leo trailing 19-14, sophomore quarterback Marshawn Durr lofted a Hail Mary pass toward the end zone from the Bishop Mac 46-yard line. A rugby scrum ensued as the ball came down, and when it landed in senior tight end Joshua Burke’s eager hands, Leo had a stunningly pleasing one-point victory.
But Durr-to-Burke was only part of the story.
With 18 seconds left, Bishop Mac was trailing 14-13. A stagnant offense faced a hopeless looking third-and-10 at its own 11-yard line when Coach Bob Kelly—Stevenson’s former colleague on the staff at St. Laurence—dipped into his trick bag. Quarterback Karter Krutsinger found wideout Coen Dernak on a short out route. Dernak pitched the ball back to tailback Jaydon Wright, and the 220-pound Minnesota recruit had nothing to but clear sailing in front of him as he completed an 89-yard jaunt to the go-ahead touchdown, on the
old hook-and-ladder play.
Bishop Mac botched the PAT kick, so the lead was five points instead of six.
But it looked safe when Leo—out of timeouts—could only return the kickoff to its 33-yard line and Durr misfired on a first-down pass.
On what looked to be the last play of the game, Durr was shoved out of bounds after scrambling 16 yards to the 49.
And there’s still more.
Bishop Mac was called for a hands-to-the-face violation on Durr’s run. It’s in the rules that a game can’t end on a defensive penalty, so the Lions got an untimed down …
… on which Durr found Burke, and the pro-Leo crowd went bonkers.
Got all that?
“This is all about the fighting spirit of Leo,” Stevenson said, his voice growing hoarse as he accepted congratulations from well-wishers.
Burke, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound senior, is undoubtedly Leo’s top college prospect. In addition to catching two passes for 71 yards, he blocked like a demon and made tackles all over the field from his linebacker position.
“I told Josh before the game that if you want to be ‘the Man,’ go out there between the lines and do it, and he did it,” Stevenson said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done. We believed in each other and we got it done.”
Durr’s turnover-free debut as varsity quarterback was nearly as impressive as Stevenson’s: He completed seven of 10 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, a 39-yarder to Javon Logan and the game-winner to Burke.
Logan, before leaving with a shoulder-injury, ran for 80 yards on 15 carries and scored on a 10-yard run.
The effort was impressive and successful, but not without blemishes: twice the Lions lost the ball on muffed punts and they were penalized 11 times for 90 yards.
But a win is a win.
“This,” Stevenson said, “is for the Leo Brotherhood.”