LAWRENCEBURG — It wasn’t the way that Marion Lukes, or any of his teammates, wanted to go out.
Class 3A No. 9 Lawrenceburg scored 35 consecutive points — sparked by a tide-turning touchdown late in the second quarter — en route to a 49-18 win over Charlestown on Friday night in the Sectional 31 semifinals at Dick Meador Stadium.
“That’s a good football team on the other side of the field, probably our sectional champions,” Lukes, the Pirates standout senior running back, said of the Tigers (10-1), who'll face Greensburg (7-4) in next Friday’s sectional final.
It didn’t help Charlestown’s cause that Lukes, the program’s all-time leading rusher, re-aggravated a quadriceps injury early in the game and was only on the field for a handful of plays in the first half. He returned in the second half, but couldn’t help the Pirates dig out of a sizable hole.
The game pitted one of the state’s top scoring teams — Lawrenceburg entered averaging 40.9 points per game, which ranked 20th over all six classes — against one of its top scoring defenses — Charlestown came in allowing eight points per game, which ranked eighth.
The two teams traded punts to start the game before Adam Burd ran 81 yards for a touchdown on the first play of the Tigers’ second series. Then on the first play of the Pirates’ subsequent series Lukes — who was noticeably limping after Charlestown’s first series — went down in a heap. He laid on the field for several minutes before being helped to the sideline.
“I was injured coming into this game,” said Lukes, who hurt himself in the Pirates’ 7-6 first-round win over No. 3 Brownstown Central last Friday. “It was a two-week injury, but I tried to push it to a couple of days. … I got injured on the third play of the game, and that was all she wrote.”
Things got worse for the Pirates a short time later. Lawrenceburg needed only three plays to double its lead on sophomore quarterback Garrett Yoon’s 18-yard scoring scamper. It was set up by a 34-yard completion from Yoon to his older brother Gavin, a senior, and a 10-yard run by Burd.
But just when it looked like the Tigers might run away with it early, Charlestown’s defense — already playing short-handed due to injuries to linebackers Deven Lukes and Brody Wagers — came up big. Senior Braiden Murphy picked off a Yoon pass on Lawrenceburg’s next possession and returned it to the Tigers’ 1. Two plays later quarterback Andrew Snider snuck in for a touchdown. The point-after kick was blocked, but the Pirates had pulled to within 14-6.
Then, after the Tigers went three-and-out on their next possession, Charlestown embarked on an 18-play drive that started on its own 3. The Pirates drove to Lawrenceburg’s 3 before Snider’s pass on fourth-and-2 was batted down.
Four plays later Garrett Yoon found his brother streaking down the sideline for a momentum-swinging 76-yard touchdown with 1 minute left in the first half, putting the Tigers up 21-6 at intermission.
Lawrenceburg then surprised the Pirates with an onside kick to start the second half. The Tigers recovered it and four plays later Yoon ran in from 5 yards out to increase their lead to 28-6.
“We don’t score and they get a touchdown, then they kick onside and we’re not ready … from there it’s pretty much a snowball effect,” Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins said.
Lawrenceburg scored on its next three possessions too, increasing its lead to 49-6.
Charlestown tallied two late TDs to account for the final margin. The first was a 13-yard scoring run by senior Addison Logsdon. The second was a 70-yard interception return by Lukes on the game’s final play.
“I guess that’s a pretty cool thing to say, my last play in high school was a touchdown,” Lukes said with a smile.
Lukes, who entered the game with 5,408 rushing yards in his career, finished with 31 yards on only six carries.
“I wish I could’ve accomplished a little bit more, at least came out with a sectional [title],” the Central Michigan commit said. “But I beat Brownstown, so that’s kind of like a mini-sectional for me right there. And we did it at home by one point, so it’s a little bit sweeter.”
Still, it was a bittersweet ending for Lukes and his classmates.
“These seniors are great kids. They all played and made a great impact on our program — not only on the field, but off the field. We’re going to miss them,” Hawkins said.