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Polo scores twice in second half to win second straight 8-Man State Championship

Published: Nov. 19, 2021 at 10:59 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 19, 2021 at 11:34 PM CST
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MONMOUTH, Ill. (WIFR) - It looked and felt a lot like an old school, NUIC battle between the hash marks. That’s what we got in the Illinois 8-Man State Championship between former conference rivals. Polo hung on to beat Orangeville 12-7 to win its second straight state championship Friday at Monmouth College.

Both teams came in averaging more than 48 points per game, but both defenses were holding teams to under 20. It turned out that defense can still win a championship.

Orangeville’s Gunar Lobdell opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 30-yard run. That would be the only touchdown of the first half as the Broncos took a 7-0 lead into halftime.

O-Ville would hold onto that 7-point lead until there was three minutes left in the third. After an Avery Grenoble 72-yard run put the Marcos in the red zone, the junior finished what he started with a four-yard score. However, the 2-point try was no good, so the Broncos took a 7-6 lead into the fourth.

“We were down a score, but we were in there saying we’re only down by one, we can still get back into this,” said Grenoble.

Early in the final stanza, Orangeville looked to swing the momentum back in its favor. Carson Rote picked off a Tyler Merdian pass at midfield and brought it back deep into Marcos territory. But on the very next play, the Broncos fumbled the ball and Grenoble pounced on it.

Polo turned that turnover into points with under five to play. Grenoble would score his second rushing touchdown of the game. But again, the 2-point try was unsuccessful, so the Marcos were only up five.

“There wasn’t a panic, but it was getting really close to panic time there for a second,” said Alston. “But no, not in the kids. Not in the kids, that’s for sure.”

After a turnover on downs, Polo was facing fourth and nine with about a minute to play. Instead of punting it away, head coach Ted Alston gambled and went for it. Merdian then connected with Brock Soltow for ten yards and the first down to ice the game.

“Proud of the kids, proud of our coaching staff, and happy to bring another state championship back to Polo.”

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