PIQUA — In the Region 24 semifinals, the No. 3 seed Spencerville Bearcats traveled to Alexander Football Stadium in Piqua to take on the reigning Division VI champs, the No. 2 seed and undefeated Marion Local Flyers.

The Bearcats endured a long night as they found it difficult moving the ball against No. 1-ranked defense in the Midwest Athletic Conference.

In the end, an inability to establish what had been throughout the season their prolific running game amounted to no points on the night, as they went down 35-0.

“Marion Local is a great team,” Spencerville head coach Chris Sommers said afterwards. “They’re a class-act with a great coaching staff; they’re just a phenomenal team.”

Spencerville had an opportunity to take the lead early, after exchanging punts, the Bearcats began their second drive at their own 33. Methodically, they began marching down the field. With a 3rd-and-1 from their own 42, senior Chris Picker picked up Spencerville’s initial first down. It wasn’t long though until the Bearcats found themselves facing a 4th-and-1 at the Flyers’ 25. Sommers decided field goals wouldn’t suffice against the defending state champs, and the Bearcats gave the ball to junior Canaan Johnson, who came through with a 2-yard run for another Spencerville first down. The Flyers kept the Bearcats to short runs throughout the night, and facing another fourth down, this one with four yards to go, Spencerville let it ride. Sophomore Joel Lotz was given the ball, but fell 3 yards shy of the marker, turning the ball over to Marion after a 17-play drive.

The Flyers capitalized. On the first play, sophomore running back Brandon Fleck burst through the line behind senior lineman, and Notre Dame commit, John Dirksen for 28 yards. Marion Local took the lead on the last play of the first quarter. Junior quarterback Nathan Bruns connected with a wide-open senior, Derek Ruhenkamp, on a 30-yard pass for the touchdown.

A Bearcat 3-and-out gave the ball back to Marion Local quickly, and they added onto their lead with a short, 5-play drive that began at the Spencerville 43-yard line. The drive began with a 27-yard pass to junior Nick Tangeman, and it was capped off several plays later by Partington on a 5-yard run, which put the Flyers up 14-0 with just over 10 minutes remaining in the half.

Another Spencerville 3-and-out set-up the Flyers with an opportunity to put the game in a stranglehold. Beginning at the Bearcats 35, after a 20-yard punt return from Ruhenkamp, it took two plays for Marion Local to score. Bruns placed an underthrown ball in the air, and junior defensive back Drew Armstead nearly intercepted it, but Tangeman wrestled the ball from his grasp for a 35-yard touchdown reception.

The Flyers led 21-0 at halftime, and they got the ball to begin the second half. If the Bearcats had any shot of a comeback, a stop was imperative. However, on the 1st play of the drive, Bruns connected with Tangeman for 13 yards. The next play was a 27-yard run from Fleck, followed with a 14-yard run, and before the Bearcats knew it, Fleck was waltzing into the end zone from 1-yard out, giving the Flyers a 28-0 lead. The Flyers went on to add another touchdown to their total, and with the running clock, they effectively concluded the Bearcats season, ending the 9-game winning streak.

“I couldn’t be any prouder of our guys,” Coach Sommers said. “To be here, Week 12, in this venue, playing the best team in the state of Ohio, what more could you ask for? I’m so proud of them and our senior leadership throughout the year. We really didn’t get off to the start we wanted to this season, but you always either win or lose that last game, and at the end of the day, I’m proud of the way we finished our season.”