[By Anthony Hawthorne, Special to ETSN.fm]

MARSHALL -- Trailing by 10 points early in the third quarter, the Marshall Mavericks looked to be facing a season-ending loss at home on Senior Night.

Sophomore Cameron Haller made sure those seniors went out with a bang.

Marshall recovered from that deficit, scoring 19 unanswered points to defeat Sulphur Springs, 36-27, in the ETSN.fm/Dairy Queen Game of the Week. The outcome ultimately secured a playoff spot for both teams.

The Mavericks (6-4), with the nine-point margin of victory, go into the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in Division II from District 15-5A and will face Nacogdoches (7-3). Sulphur Springs (5-5) dropped to the No. 2 seed and will face state-ranked Ennis (8-2).

Haller was a huge part in securing that playoff spot, carrying the ball 25 times for 177 yards and three touchdowns, two of which came in the second-half spurt that pushed the Mavs to victory.

Trailing 27-17 after a Tyler Rosamond 1-yard TD run, his second of the night, the Mavs faced a critical drive.

Marshall's Teliferio Williams puts a big hit on Sulphur Springs quarterback Larry Pryor during their game Friday night in Marshall. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Starting at his own 30-yard line, Haller picked up 5 yards before he was stuffed on third-and-1. Facing fourth down, senior John Love took a handoff up the sideline for a 47-yard gain. Haller took the next two snaps, going for 10 yards and finding the end zone on a 4-yard score to bring the Mavs within three, 27-24.

Marshall rolled the dice on the ensuing kickoff, going for an onside kick and recovering with Cordell Archield falling on top of the ball. 

It was all Mavericks after that.

Quarterback Justin Hart found Trel Patton for 15 yards on first down before Haller went back to work, picking up 3 and 12 yards on consecutive runs. On second-and-goal, Hart found Chavis Mills open in the flat where the junior tailback found the end zone from 8 yards away. The extra point was no good, giving the Mavs a 30-27 lead.

Hart finished the night 9 of 16 for 96 yards and a score.

After dominating the second quarter, the Wildcats suddenly found themselves in a hole. Having dominated on the ground early, they stuck with their guns, with Rosamond picking up 7 yards on consecutive plays before a 6-yard run by quarterback Larry Pryor put the ball at the Mavericks' 33-yard line.

Jaylon Hawkins found the end zone on the next play, however a holding call brought it back.

Pryor and the Wildcats then faced a fourth-and-4 at the 27, the first time facing a third or fourth down since the first quarter. Pryor dragged several defenders for a 14-yard gain to the Mavs' 13-yard line.

Consecutive penalties on the Wildcats killed the drive, with Pryor getting stuffed for no gain on a fourth-and-3 play.

Pryor, the Texas A&M commit, finished with 155 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, while completing just 1 of 5 passes for 11 yards. Rosamond added 105 yards on 19 carries.

Runs of 8 and 7 yards from Haller and a face-mask penalty on the Wildcats moved the Mavs out of the shadow of their own end zone.

A gain of 21 yards from Hart to Love moved the ball into Wildcats' territory. Haller went to work from there, picking up 30 yards on the next four carries before getting into the end zone for the third time on the night, this time from 8 yards away.

Sulphur Springs quarterback Larry Pryor breaks free down the Marshall sideline for a touchdown during their game Friday night in Marshall. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

“He’s (Haller) just an unbelievable football player and the good thing is he’s only a sophomore,” said Marshall coach Clint Harper. “He’s just so strong. When you have a kid that bench presses 390 pounds as a 14-year old, he’s just a freak of an athlete and he’s only going to get better.”

The extra point was once again no good, a key element to the game with point differential deciding a potential three-way tie for the final two playoff spots.

Trailing 36-27, the Wildcats quickly went three-and-out, giving the Mavs the chance to close it out.

They did just that, once again behind the legs of Haller.

Lining up at quarterback for large portions of the second half, the bruising back took a second-and-15 carry for a 50-yard score, potentially ending the season of the Wildcats and vaulting the Hallsville Bobcats into the playoffs.

The play was called back due to holding, however. Haller closed it out on the next two plays, picking up 6 yards and sliding down inbounds after a gain of 11 yards on third-and-11.

“That second half was symbolic of our whole year,” said Harper. “Keep playing hard. We don't play good one game, come back and play good the next. I told those kids at halftime they had 24 minutes to tackle (Pryor) and keep our season going and that’s what they did. They wanted to keep playing another week.”

Marshall will face Nacogdoches, with the site likely being Pine Tree's Pirate Stadium in Longview.

“Coach Reyes was the coach here at Marshall, he came in after I graduated,” said Harper. “They run a lot of the same stuff they ran here when he was the offensive coordinator at Marshall. Great coach and they’ve been playing really good football. I expect a really good football game.”

The Mavs got things going early in the contest.

After stuffing Hawkins for a negative run on the game's opening play, Marshall got even more pressure on the next play.

Facing a heavy pass rush, Pryor was forced to backpedal and attempt a pass that was grabbed by Marshall's Anthony Washington. The senior linebacker returned the pick 18 yards for a score, giving the Mavs an early 7-0 lead.

Washington came up big on the game's next series. Facing third-and-10 at the Mavericks' 48, Pryor surveyed the field for a bit too long as Washington sacked him for a loss of 7, forcing a Wildcat punt of 50 yards that started the Mavs' at their own 5.

Bad field position was no problem as Marshall moved it in big chunks to get out of its own end. A 30-yard run by Love was followed by 25-yarder from Mills. Hart found Mills for 13 yards and Love for 12 more to move inside the Wildcats' 10-yard line.

Sulphur Springs running back Tyler Rosamond dives over the goal line for a touchdown during the Wildcats' 36-27 loss at Marshall on Friday night. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

The Sulphur Springs defense tightened up however, stuffing Love for a 3-yard loss on third-and-goal, which forced a 21-yard field goal by Alan Martinez that pushed the Mavs' lead to 10-0.

The Wildcats got back to their bread-and-butter on the next drive, punishing Marshall up the middle.

The trio of Pryor, Rosamond and Scott Galarza moved the ball effectively, picking up big chunks in the process. A 10-yarder from Pryor, followed by a 13-yard gain from Rosamond set up Galarza for an 18-yard run inside the Mavs' 5-yard line. Two plays later, Rosamond got the Wildcats on the board, getting in from a yard away, cutting the Marshall lead to 10-7.

A failed onside kick by the Wildcats on the ensuing kickoff set up the Mavs near midfield. Haller did the rest.

The sophomore carried the ball on four consecutive plays, gaining 24, 15, 10 and finally a TD run from 3yards away, pushing the Mavs lead back up to 17-7.

It was all Wildcats after that to finish the half and it was all on the ground once again, with Pryor completing just 1 of his 4 first-half pass attempts.

Runs of 7, 5, and 11 from Rosamond mixed in with an 11-yard scamper from Pryor put the Wildcats at first-and-goal at the 8.

Following a Wildcat penalty and a 5-yard run from Rosamond, Pryor kept the ball on a read-option, getting in the end zone from 8 yards away, cutting the Mavs' lead to 17-13 after the extra point was no good.

The Wildcat defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession and went right back to work.

Rosamond picking up 9 yards on first down, Pryor added 4 on the next play and Hawkins chipped in a 4-yard run to move the ball to the Wildcats' 41-yard line.

Pryor took the game's next play 59 yards untouched with just 46 seconds remaining until the half, giving the Wildcats a 20-17 lead at the break.

Marshall's Cameron Haller stiff-arms Sulphur Springs' Tanner Ramirez during their game Friday night in Marshall. (Mark Martin, ETSN.fm)

Marshall 36, Sulphur Springs 27

At Maverick Stadium, Marshall

Sulphur Springs            0    20     7     0    --    27
Marshall                      10      7   13     6    --    36

First Quarter
MAR--Anthony Washington 18 interception return (Alan Martinez kick), 9:37.
MAR--FG Martinez 21, 1:10.
Second Quarter
SS--Tyler Rosamond 1 run (Tanner Ramirez kick), 9:35.
MAR--Cameron Haller 3 run (Martinez kick), 7:20.
SS--Larry Pryor 8 run (kick failed), 4:15.
SS--Pryor 59 run (Ramirez kick), :47.
Third Quarter
SS--Rosamond 1 run (Ramirez kick), 9:41.
MAR--Haller 4 run (Martinez kick), 7:21.
MAR--Chavis Mills 8 pass from Justin Hart (kick failed), 5:33.
Fourth Quarter
SS--Haller 8 run (kick failed), 5:46.

                                     SS                 MAR
First Downs                    17                     20
Total Yards                   380                   410
Rushes-Yards          52-369             41-306
Passing Yards                 11                  104
Comp.-Att.-Int.           1-5-1            10-17-1
Punts-Avg.                1-50.0              1-31.0
Fumbles-Lost                 1-0                   1-0
Penalties-Yards             6-45                8-65

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING--Sulphur Springs, Larry Pryor 18-155, Tyler Rosamond 19-105, Jaylon Hawkins 11-73, Scott Galarza 4-36. Marshall, Cameron Haller 25-177, John Love 10-93, Chavis Mills 4-40, Trel Patton 1-5, Justin Hart 1-(-9).
PASSING--Sulphur Springs, Pryor 1-5-1--11. Marshall, Hart 9-16-1--96, Haller 1-1-0--8.
RECEIVING--Sulphur Springs, Parker Aguilar 1-11. Marshall, Love 3-41, Mills 3-24, Patton 2-14, Deonte Jordan 1-15, Deondre Osborne 1-10.