Published December 11, 2008
Marist School did what any Coach Alan Chadwick football team does most seasons and that’s play the game to the end. Marist was in a dogfight all night Dec. 5 with Rome High School and it took a touchdown run by senior wide receiver Kevin Allman on the final play of the game to propel Marist into the Class AAAA title game at the Georgia Dome Dec. 12.
Two first-quarter touchdowns by Rome junior running back Reggie Whatley gave his team an early 14-0 lead and left the crowd at Hughes Spalding Stadium stunned. The first touchdown, an 82-yard run around the right side, was a testament to the speed Marist would be up against. But when the second quarter rolled around, speed was trumped by a stingy Marist defense. With 28 seconds left in the second quarter, Marist’s Sam McNearny scored on a 1-yard run and the team trailed at halftime 14-7.
Marist not only trailed the entire game, but fumbled twice, and Rome blocked two punts and one point after touchdown following a 32-yard run by McNearny with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter. Once again it was the defense that stood tall, holding Rome to a field goal the entire second half.
But it was Allman who stood the tallest of all, particularly horizontally. It came down to the last offensive drive and play of the game. With just over five minutes left, Marist drove down the field from its own 20-yard line to the Rome 4-yard line. With time running out, Marist had four fresh chances to punch it in, but in a classic goal line stand, Rome denied Marist on the first three attempts. With less than 10 seconds on the clock, the season came down to one play on fourth and goal. In the final play of the game, Marist senior quarterback Kyle Farmer pitched it back to his classmate Allman, who ran an end-around the left side, forcing his way past Rome defenders and stretching all of his 6-foot-3, 190-pound frame across the goal line to give Marist a 19-17 victory as time expired.
Marist will face a familiar opponent in the state championship game as the team takes on Tucker High School. The two met on Sept. 26 and Marist shut out Tucker 38-0. Tucker has reeled off nine straight wins since then and two teams enter the final game of the season with identical records of 13-1.