The 2019 season ended for Marist at Oconee County Friday night when the War Eagles fell to the Warriors 17-7 in the third round of the AAAA State Playoffs.
Marist began the game with a long kickoff return that got the offense started at the Warrior 35-yard line. However, a fourth down stop by the Oconee County defense stifled a promising start that ultimately took 8 minutes off the clock in the first quarter.
The Warriors moved the ball back to midfield before Marist forced a punt.
Then, starting at their own 20-yard line, Marist quarterback Connor Cigelske threw an interception on the last play of the quarter giving the Warriors excellent field position deep in Marist territory. It took only three plays for the Warriors to score when quarterback Max Johnson connected on a pass to older brother Jake Johnson for a 5-yard score and a 7-0 lead.
The remainder of the half saw both defenses take control. The Warriors attempted a 30-yard field goal on their last possession of the half, but it was blocked, making the score 7-0 at the break. Marist forced Oconee County to punt on their first drive of the second half, then drove 83 yards on seven plays, including a 52-yard strike from Cigelske to sophomore Chandler Heath, to knot the game at 7-7.
Oconee County responded on their next possession, driving 79-yards with the Johnson brothers again connecting on a 33-yard pass play to take a 14-7 lead at the start of the final period.
The Warriors forced Marist to punt on their next possession, but a short kick put Oconee County at midfield, and they marched down the field to the Marist 3-yard line. The War Eagle defense held them out of the end zone, but kicker Ben Johnson connected on a 20-yard field goal with just over 2 minutes remaining for a 17-7 lead.
The War Eagles were forced to throw the ball to move down the field quickly, but Oconee County picked off a Cigelske pass, ending any hope of a late comeback at Warrior Field Stadium.
The story of the game was that the defenses. The War Eagles were held to just 90-yards rushing and the Warriors’ only 52-yards. For the War Eagles, Cigleske came into the game averaging 170 yards per game on the ground in the postseason and was held to 43-yards on 17 carries. However, the Warrior’s passing attack made the difference as they threw for 213-yards led by the Max-to-Jake Johnson combination accounting for 7 receptions and 112-yards and two touchdowns. Marist had 88-yards through the air with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Marist ends the season with a 11-2 overall record. This postseason run marks the 34th consecutive trip to the state playoffs for Marist, this year under head coach Alan Chadwick, the longest streak in the State of Georgia.