MILFORD — Facing a quick, elusive quarterback was the start of a three-game losing streak for the Attica Red Ramblers.
On Saturday afternoon, Milford/Cissna Park’s Josh Marquez tried to emulate Rockville’s Kiontre Wilke, who ran for 232 yards and three touchdowns against Attica earlier this season, but this time around, the Red Ramblers figured out a way to stop the fleet-footed quarterback.
Attica spoiled Sam Fanning Day with a 21-14 victory over Milford/Cissna Park at Sam Fanning Stadium.
“We did alright, I wouldn’t say that we were great,’’ Attica coach Ryan Good said. “That’s something we don’t see too often, but I did talk the kids afterwards and I asked them, ‘What did the game remind you of?’ And they said Rockville.’’
Attica lost that contest 30-28 to snap its three-game win streak and the Red Ramblers went on to lose to Fountain Central and North Vermillion, before beating Covington last week.
“They were just like Rockville,’’ said Attica senior Lance Whorral, noting that the Red Ramblers (5-3 overall) could face the Rox again in the Sectional as the tournament draw is tonight in Indiana. “This game could help us out a lot. We are a different team now.’’
Marquez, who did run 130 yards and a touchdown, tried to lead the Bearcats, who fall to 3-4 overall, on a second-half comeback. The junior signal caller ran for 109 yards on 11 carries in the second half, and he scored on a 11-yard run, cutting Attica’s lead to 13-7 with 3 minutes, 42 seconds left in the third quarter.
“That was a really gutsy effort by Jacob,’’ Milford/Cissna Park coach Clint Schwartz said. “He didn’t practice all week. His arm has been bothering him all week, so we kept him out of (practice).
“In the second half, we got on his back and rode him.’’
Running back Devon Laubscher also gave the Bearcats a second-half boost with 44 yards on eight carries, while Josh Marquez had 33 yards on four carries in the final 24 minutes.
But with the game on the line, Josh Marquez came up just a foot short on his fourth down-and-1 rushing attempt inside the Attica 5-yard line. Red Ramblers junior linebacker Cody Parker grabbed Josh Marquez at the 5 and did let him reach the first down marker at the 4.
“Cody, he might have been coerced a little on that play,’’ Good said. “ I think we were yelling out the play over here, because we knew it was probably going to be coming back to him. He was able to come up and make a big play.’’
Schwartz said that play was like many others the Bearcats have had this season.
“It’s that one block,’’ he said. “We have been one block away, I guessing 50 times this season. We’re one block away from making a big play.’’
While Milford/Cissna Park struggled at times to get that one key block, at halftime, Attica figured out where it needed to do a better job to get the Red Rambler attack going.
“We started running the ball to the outside more and the wingbacks started blocking better off the edge,’’ said Whorral, who had seven carries for 69 yards and two touchdowns in the second half. “We just weren’t getting the edge that we needed.’’
Good said it was actually a combination of better blocking and the backs doing a better job of seeing the field.
“We got our wingbacks to cut it up a little better, instead of stringing it out so far,’’ he said. “I also think the misdirection with the QB reverse and we ran a little criss-cross with our wingbacks was effective.
“It was an overall effort across the board — better blocks and better cuts.’’
After stopping Milford/Cissna Park on fourth down inside its 5-yard line with 3:19 left, Attica still had to make one more defensive stand.
The Bearcats used all three of its timeouts and forced the Red Ramblers to punt with 2:14 left. Milford/Cissna Park took possession on its own 46, needing 54 yards for a potential game-tying touchdown.
A pair of runs by Josh and Jacob Marquez got Milford/Cissna Park down to Attica 43, but a penalty, an incomplete pass and short run left the Bearcats with a fourth-and-24. Jacob Marquez attempted a deep pass down the middle of the field, but Whorral was there for the interception, sealing the victory for the Red Ramblers.
“I just stayed in my coverage and the ball came to me,’’ Whorral said. “This was a good game to get us ready for Sectionals.’’