HUTCHINSON — Collegiate football coach Bill Messamore didn't quite know what to do.
Messamore stood on the sideline, stunned, while the Spartans celebrated their 37-30 win over Marysville on Saturday at Gowans Stadium for the Class 3A title. It's the third state football title in school history, first since 2000, and the first for Messamore.
"I was so into the ballgame, when the buzzer went off I was like 'what now?' " Messamore said. "It was such a great game, I really don't know if I was ready for it to end."
On its last possession, Marysville (12-2) looked as if it wasn't ready for it to end, either. The Bulldogs, trailing by seven with two minutes remaining, drove to the Collegiate 39-yard line before facing a fourth-and-10 from its own 48.
Looking down the field, Marysville quarterback Ben Malotte found receiver Tyler Wright open behind the Spartan defense. Malotte's pass fell between Wright's arms to the ground.
Collegiate (14-0) finished out the game by running the clock out after a first down run by Raymond Taylor, wrapping up an unbeaten season.
"We kept battling and battling," Marysville coach Brad Hammett said. "We gave ourselves a chance. I can't find any fault in our kids."
Marysville outgained the Spartans 393 to 374 yards, but Brett LeMaster's two special teams touchdowns were the difference.
LeMaster had a 99-yard kickoff return and an 80-yard punt return, both for scores.
After Marysville's first touchdown, LeMaster fielded the kickoff just shy of the goal line and raced up the middle for the score.
In the third quarter, he fielded a Bulldog punt with two defenders within arms reach, eluded the two would-be-tacklers, reversed field, and found daylight on the right sideline for the score.
LeMaster also scored the Spartans' first touchdown, a 19-yard pass from quarterback Blake Jablonski.
He finished with 297 total yards and three touchdowns.
"The returns were about instinct and blocking. I've been playing football since I was little so when I saw an opening, I just ran to it," LeMaster said. "This was such a good game. We worked hard and it feels great."
The Spartans trailed three times, but never trailed by more than a touchdown and never in the second half.
Collegiate's high-powered passing attack accounted for 286 yards and two scores. Collegiate also rushed for 88 yards and one score.
While the Bulldogs were able to come up with stops on defense, the Spartans never lost momentum by coming up with timely scores. Four of Collegiate's five touchdowns came directly after scores by Marysville. And no score was bigger, perhaps, than Taylor's 2-yard touchdown run on fourth-and-1 that gave Collegiate a 37-23 lead early in the fourth quarter.
"We've done that all year," Messamore said. "This group never hangs its head. They just go out and respond."
Trailing by 14, Marysville cut its deficit to seven on a Malotte 1-yard touchdown run with 4:48 remaining. Malotte ran for three scores and passed for another, finishing with 232 yards passing and 51 yards rushing.
Collegiate (14-0) 14 7 10 6 — 37 Marysville (12-2) 10 7 6 7 — 30
M—Nicolas Stoll 37 field goal
C—Brett LeMaster 19 pass from Blake Jablonski (Tyler Coughenour kick)
M—Gannon Mayer 65 pass from Ben Malotte (Stoll kick)
C—LeMaster 99 kickoff return (Coughenour kick)
M—Malotte 5 run (Stoll kick)
C—Tre Bailey 23 pass from Jablonski (Coughenour kick)
C—Coughenour 27 field goal
C—LeMaster 80 punt return (Brendan Lowden kick)
M—Malotte 1 run (kick failed)
C—Taylor 2 run (kick failed)
M—Malotte 1 run (Stoll kick)
Rushing—Collegiate, Taylor 13-47, Coughenour 4-28, LeMaster 4-23, Jablonski 3-16. Marysville, Blumer 12-96, Malotte 23 51, Bruna 3-14.
Passing—Collegiate, Jablonski 14-29-286-2. Marysville, Malotte 15-25-232-0, Blumer 0-1-0-0.
Receiving—Collegiate, Bailey 3-110, LeMaster 6-90, Cornejo 3-75, Coughenour 2-11. Marysville, D. Blumer 5-52, Bruna 5-48, Mayer 3-92, C. Blumer 1-37, J. Blumer 1-3.