MANSFIELD -- The Hartley High School football team’s season came within a lunge by junior tight end Jacob Matuska of possibly being extended at least another week.
With his team trying to extend an 18-game winning steak and trailing Kenton by eight points with 1 minute, 40 seconds remaining in the Division IV, Region 14 final, Hawks running back Marcellus Calhoun ran in from 1 yard.
On the two-point conversion attempt, however, a halfback pass by Ja’Wuan Woodley went off Matuska’s fingertips to seal Kenton’s 30-28 victory Saturday, Nov. 19, at Arlin Field.
Hartley, the defending Division IV state champion, finished 11-1. Kenton improved to 13-0 and advanced to a state semifinal Nov. 26 against Clarksville Clinton-Massie.
“It’s a shame when it looks like a play or two is the difference in the game because every game has about 160 plays,” Hartley coach Brad Burchfield said. “You’ve got to have a lot of things go your way for sure in a game like this.”
For one stretch of the second half, the momentum shifted to Hartley.
After the Hawks got a pair of touchdown runs by Woodley to tie the Wildcats at 14 at halftime, Hartley took its first second-half drive in for a score. Jared Brandewie ran in from 3 yards on a bootleg keeper with 6:12 to go in the third quarter and Woodley ran in for the two-point conversion for a 22-14 lead.
Kenton quarterback Maty Mauk, who entered the game with 58 touchdown passes, was intercepted by Patrick Randall on the ensuing drive.
But the Wildcats rallied to tie it at 22 with 38.6 seconds to go in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Mauk and a two-point conversion pass from Mauk to Justin Sawmiller.
With 10:23 remaining, Woodley fumbled and Kenton’s Brice Fackler recovered at the Hartley 31. Four plays later, Mauk ran in for a 2-yard touchdown and then hit Fackler with the two-point conversion pass to make it 30-22.
Hartley moved 56 yards for its final score but couldn’t recover the onside kick after the failed two-point conversion pass.
Mauk was limited to 97 yards passing but proved more dangerous with his feet, rushing for 144 of his team-high 163 yards during the second half.
Woodley rushed for 164 yards and Calhoun had 84 yards on the ground to lead Hartley.
“It was a game of ball control and field position, and it came down to a two-point conversion,” Kenton coach Mike Mauk said. “It was a great contest.”
HARTLEY 7 7 8 6 -- 28
KENTON 14 0 8 8 -- 30
H--Woodley 8 run (Wahle kick)
K--Mauk 1 run (Fetter pass from Mauk)
K--Wolowicz 13 pass from Mauk (pass failed)
H--Woodley 1 run (Wahle kick)
H--Brandewie 3 run (Woodley run)
K--Mauk 1 run (Sawmiller pass from Mauk)
K--Mauk 2 run (Fackler pass from Mauk)
H--Calhoun 1 run (pass failed)