Mechanicsburg ousted by Marion Local

Mechanicsburg quarterback Kaleb Romero got all the attention coming into a Division VI, Region 24 playoff game on Friday night at Sidney Memorial Stadium. But Marion Local quarterback Duane Leugers stole the attention of all 7,000 fans in attendance.

Leugers ran for three touchdowns and threw several drive-saving passes to help guide the Flyers to a 26-15 win.

It’s the second-straight year Marion Local has ended Mechanicsburg’s season. The Flyers beat Mechanicsburg 9-7 on a late field goal last year in a regional final before eventually losing to Kirkland in the D-VI state championship game.

The Flyers didn’t need a late comeback against Mechanicsburg this year. Marion Local led 13-0 at halftime and then scored two touchdowns in about three minutes in the fourth quarter.

Romero is a four-year starter for Mechanicsburg and has set numerous career records, including most points and yards. He has been named the Associated Press Southwest District D-VI offensive player of the year each of the last two seasons.

But it was Leugers who came up with the biggest plays. Jack Homan ran for a 2-yard touchdown late in the first quarter, and Leugers followed with a 1-yard run midway through the second to boost the lead to 13-0 after a missed extra point.

Mechanicsburg battled back in the third quarter. The Indians started at their own 20-yard line midway through the quarter and drove into the red zone. After the Flyers stopped Mechanicsburg on three running plays, Romero threw a pass toward the sideline for a first down at the 5. He ran it in for a one-yard touchdown with 46 seconds left in the third to cut the Flyers’ lead to 13-7.

But Marion Local responded quickly. Leugers threw a 42-yard pass to Ryan Thobe, then followed several plays later with a one-yard touchdown run. The Flyers failed a two-point conversion try but increased their lead to 19-7 with 9:16 left in the fourth.

The Indians were stuffed on three consecutive running plays on the next drive, and a bad snap on fourth down prevented them from getting a punt off. Marion Local took over at Mechanicsburg’s 23, and Leugers scored on a 6-yard run with 5:58 left to extend the lead to 26-7.

Romero threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Alex Rhine and then followed with a two-point conversion pass with 2:13 left in the fourth, but Marion Local recovered the kickoff attempt and ran out the clock.

Marion Local advances to the state final four for the sixth consecutive season. The Flyers will play either Hamler Patrick Henry or Defiance Ayersville in a state semifina next Friday at 7:30 p.m. at a site to be determined.

Mechanicsburg finishes 12-1. The Indians have made the playoffs four consecutive seasons and have made the regional finals each of the last two years. They’ll lose Romero to graduation as well as seven other two-way starters.

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