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Sallade's last-second field goal sends Ole Miss to regional

INDIANS: Mississinewa's football team celebrates with the sectional trophy at midfield in Dick Lootens Stadium after the Indians topped Marion, 31-28 Friday night in the Class 4A Sectional 20 championship game.

BY SCOTT HUNT - shunt@chronicle-tribune.com

About the only thing cooler than the temperatures Friday night was the ice water running through Andre Sallade's veins.

Sallade, Mississinewa's junior place kicker, calmly walked onto the turf inside Dick Lootens Stadium with 1.9 seconds to play and split the uprights with his 20-yard field goal lifting the Indians to a 31-28 win over Marion and with it the Class 4A Sectional 20 championship.

Sallade had made 5-of-6 field goal attempts throughout the season with a long of 44 yards, but none carried the pressure of his game-winner which came at a tough angle from the right hash mark. But the kick couldn't have been more perfectly executed.

“I was happy because the offense made it a really close one. It wasn't that far out, just one yard farther than a PAT,” Sallade said. “I was like if I miss it, we're still in it, it's not like we're going to lose. Just hit it like in practice.

“It wasn't something I was really looking forward to do,” he added of the angle, “but it wasn't that hard since it was up closer. If it was further away it might have been (more difficult).”

The Giants and Indians waged in a classic backyard battle for all four quarters, trading a pair of first-quarter touchdowns. Ole Miss struck first when Andruw Cruz pounded his way in from two yards out on the Indians first drive.

Keshaun Taylor pounded his way through the Indians' defense for a 27-yard score 57 seconds later squaring the game at 7-all after Kyle Coryea's PAT kick was true.

Marion grabbed a 14-7 lead only 1:31 before halftime on Khalid Stamps' 13-yard run and that's the way the first half ended.

Ole Miss needed just seven plays after taking the second half kickoff to tie the game at 14-all, when Cruz again pounded in from a yard out concluding the 69-yard, nearly four-minute possession. Senior Cade Campbell started the possession taking the snap in a wildcat formation and sprinting 52 yards to give the Indians a first down at Marion's 17-yard line.

Cade Campbell was simply spectacular in the contest, as the senior rushed for 310 yards on 47 carries and also completed 3-of-4 passes for 42 yards out of the wildcat.

“Our offense just willed it. It starts with Cade Campbell, he willed it,” said Ole Miss coach Curt Funk of the Indians' second sectional title in three seasons. “What a great game by just a tremendous football player.

“Our offensive line, our tight ends and our H-backs all did their parts,” he added. “Carson (Campbell) did a great job of hard running. It was just selfless football tonight from our team.”

Still, the Giants had answers. Marion needed just four plays to move 64 yards taking just over a minute off the third quarter clock before Taylor threw a 46-yard touchdown strike to sophomore Braxstin Delgado putting the Giants back on top 21-14 with 7:34 to play in the third quarter.

Carson Campbell made several impact plays for Ole Miss and found the endzone on a reverse action shovel pass and scoring from 15 yards out with less than three minutes to go in the third quarter to finish off a 10-play, 72-yard drive for the Indians.

Mississinewa's defense came up big on Marion's next offensive possession, stopping Stamps at the one-yard line on fourth down to keep the game knotted at 21-all.

After the teams exchanged punts, Ole Miss needed just five plays to go 73 yards, Cade Campbell's 44-yard run set up Cruz's third short TD plunge of the night with 6:42 to play putting the Indians back in front, 28-21.

Marion fought back with a nine-play drive, with Stamps pounding and spinning his way into the endzone from 21-yards away to tie the game at 28-all with only 2:55 remaining.

Stamps finished his junior season with an impressive 31-carry, 176-yard, two touchdown performance. Taylor added 93 yards on 13 carries and a score on the ground and completed 2-of-4 passes for 64 yards.

The Indians took possession on the game-winning drive from their own 25-yard line with Cade Campbell directing the offense.

 

“It's just do or die at this point,” Campbell shared of his thoughts with less than three minutes to play and 75 yards to travel. “Senior year - this class, we've been together since probably sixth grade, much love for each other so we knew we had to play for the guy next to us and go out there and give it our all.

“Our O-line, they were coming in real confident, started out a little shaky but they figured it out,” Campbell added. “I have so much love for every one of them. They make me able to do what I can do, being able to pound the ball down like that is just an amazing feeling as a running back.”

And pound away is exactly what Ole Miss did.

Cade Campbell carried on seven of the Indians' nine plays, Carson Campbell took the other two, and together they worked the Indians into range for Sallade's heroic kick.

“I had 100 percent faith that he was making it. That dude is amazing,” Cruz said of Sallade. “I'll be surprised if he doesn't go DI. I had full confidence, I was like that's a dub and look at the outcome, we won, man.”

Ole Miss amassed 459 total yards of offense, 417 in rushing yardage. The Giants put up gaudy offensive numbers with 356 yards of offense, with 279 yards on the ground.

Marion coach Craig Chambers said the difference in the game was pretty simple.

“Toughness,” Chambers explained. “They were tough, man. We came out like somebody owed us something and they came out with fire in their eyes, ready to finish. That's just what happened, they finished the game.

“I knew they was gonna be tough, I knew they were gonna run basically the same few plays,” Chambers added. “Good football teams, they stop it and if you can't stop it then they gonna keep doing it. With our team, we would wind up making a mistake or doing something to where we can't finish the game. Just a lack of leadership in a lot of different areas. But like I said, I can't say too much - hats off to them. They did an amazing job.”

Mississinewa (11-1) will host its regional game on Friday against East Noble (12-0), who downed Plymouth 35-27.

Marion finished its season at 9-3.

“They stayed to the game plan. We knew that Marion was a tremendous football team, athletic, skilled and well coached,” Funk said. “We knew it was going to come down to the fourth quarter.

“In every sprint and every lift we kept telling our kids, this is what we were building for is a championship,” he added. “I think all the hard work paid off there in the fourth quarter for us. I'm just real proud of our kids.”