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FOOTBALL: Berries top Giants 42-41 in final NCC meeting

Sep. 25—The final North Central Conference meeting between Logansport and Marion in football was an instant classic.

The Berries put up over 500 yards of offense and made enough plays on defense and special teams to come away with a 42-41 victory over the Giants Friday night at LMH Stadium.

The Berries (2-4, 2-2 NCC) had an auspicious start to the game when Isaac Russell returned the opening kickoff 54 yards and on the first play from scrimmage Bryson Herr hit Cayden Walker for a 36-yard touchdown pass for a quick 6-0 lead.

Jaxsyn Walker caught a 14-yard TD pass from Herr and Herr's 2-point conversion pass to Deagan Kitchel gave Logan a 14-7 lead with 5:21 left in the first quarter.

Cayden Walker's 2-yard TD run gave Logan a 21-14 lead with 6:05 left in the second quarter.

Marion would tie the game at 21-all and Dylan Hamm's 25-yard field goal try at the end of the half doinked off the right upright as the game remained tied at halftime.

The Giants (2-4, 1-3) drove down the field and retook the lead on a 34-yard TD run by quarterback Timotheus Jones with 9:24 left in the third.

Russell answered with a 94-yard kickoff return for a score. Hamm's PAT kick was good to knot the score at 28-all. Russell's return was just 3 yards short of the school record of 97 yards set by Chip Ray against Anderson in 1980 and Brad Landis against Richmond in 1989.

The Berry defense forced a punt and Herr found Cayden Walker for a 15-yard TD pass, his third TD pass of the game to give the Berries a 35-28 lead with 4:28 left in the third.

The Giants got a break when Jones fumbled, perhaps intentionally when he was stuffed on a QB run, and Ly'carr Bledsoe scooped the ball and ran 62 yards for a touchdown to tie the game.

But the Berries answered with another drive that was capped by a 5-yard TD run by Russell to make it 42-35 with 1:20 left in the third.

The Giants scored on the first play of the fourth quarter on a 5-yard TD run by Jayden Johnson. The Berries were offsides on the PAT try which moved the try up a yard and a half. But this time Kitchel broke through the line and blocked Lucas Warner's attempt as Logan maintained a 42-41 lead.

The Berries punted the ball back to the Giants. But Russell came up with an interception. But the Berries were again forced to punt and Jeremiah Johnson returned the kick 37 yards down to the Logansport 40-yard line with 6:53 remaining.

Jones later ran the ball 23 yards down to the 1-yard line but the Giants had a block in the back penalty on the play which moved the ball back to near the 24.

A pass interference penalty moved the ball up to the 12. On second-and-8 from the 10, the Giants ran a bubble screen to Bledsoe. But Kitchel made another big play, jarring the ball loose and Tate Strong recovered for the Berries at their 14-yard line with 4:48 remaining.

The Berries were able to run out the rest of the clock from there. Chris Del Valle had a 4-yard run on third-and-one from the 46 during the drive. Cayden Walker also had a first down run that was followed by a slew of Marion personal foul penalties to end the game.

The Berries were able to celebrate a big win afterwards. Coach Mike Johnson talked with WSAL's Joe Stetz and Dave Packard following the game.

"I can't be any prouder of the Berries," Johnson said. "We didn't have a good week whatsoever. Bryson (sprained ankle) really didn't practice at all until Thursday. We had sickness going through and kids missing practice because of some 24-hour stomach flu. So we tried to keep things simple and we gutted this one out. You've got to hand it to our quarterback. He's still limping around a little bit and was able to complete some big passes. Cayden Walker got an interception and touchdown and ran the ball well, rocket. We were able to run the ball well at the end in the second half which was good. It was a team victory, a bottom line team victory.

"It was a great victory. We're a 2-4 team now and actually probably should be 3-3. Our student body and fans have stuck with us. Homecoming next week ought to be great with Richmond coming to town. It's the last time we're probably going to play Marion unless we see them down the road so it was nice to get an NCC victory against really a quality opponent."

The Berries put up 515 yards of offense. Herr was 10-of-16 passing for 124 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

Cayden Walker rushed for 130 yards on 11 carries and a TD and added three catches for 48 yards and two TDs. Elliot Baldini rushed for 110 yards on 16 attempts. Jaxsyn Walker had 74 yards on the ground on six carries and three catches for 37 yards and a TD. Del Valle ran for 70 yards on 12 carries. Russell added 28 yards and a TD on four carries and had two catches for 31 yards.

Jones rushed for 151 yards and two TDs on 17 carries for the Giants. He was 8-of-16 passing for 97 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

Jayden Johnson ran for 116 yards and two TDs on 18 attempts. Joseph Johnson had four catches for 85 yards and a TD.

Kitchel led the Logansport defense with eight tackles and Cayden Walker had seven tackles. Del Valle and Kyle Rozzi each added a sack.

Logan hosts Richmond (1-5, 0-3) for homecoming Friday night.