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Madison senior magnificent as Warhawks win

12/15/2012, 4:19pm PST
By Dennis Lin

Cormier rushes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.

Madison running Pierre Cormier rushed for 272 yards and three touchdowns in Saturday's bowl win over Kentfield Marin Catholic.

— The snap went sailing over Kareem Coles’ head, the ball bouncing away for what appeared to be a sure loss.

Coles went chasing after it, the sophomore quarterback scooping up Madison’s championship dreams and carrying them toward the sideline.

Seconds later, the ball landed in Lee Walker’s hands for a 50-yard touchdown pass. And that was just the beginning.

Coles’ something-out-of-nothing wizardry jumpstarted Madison on Saturday as the Warhawks stormed back to stun Kentfield Marin Catholic 38-35 in the Division III State Championship Bowl at The Home Depot Center.

Madison (14-1) overcame a 21-0 deficit with 31 consecutive points, going up by 10 on Pierre Cormier’s 30-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. Then, after the Wildcats (14-2) reclaimed the lead, Cormier dashed 79 yards into the end zone for the final margin of victory.

The Arizona-bound running back finished with 272 yards and three scores on 26 carries.

“He played the best game of his career on the biggest night of his career,” Madison coach Rick Jackson said. “He was pretty unbelievable.”

But even Cormier had to credit his first-year starting quarterback for sparking a slumping sideline. Marin Catholic seemed headed for a blowout before Coles’ special delivery to Walker early in the second quarter.

“That play was originally a run,” Cormier said. “Our center snapped early, but Kareem’s a great quarterback. Once that happened, I just felt like everything was gonna fall into place.”

The Warhawks scored twice more before the half — first on Coles’ 38-yard strike to Michael Garner, then on Anthony Herrera’s 41-yard field goal.

Cormier’s 5-yard TD run with 4:35 left in the third quarter gave Madison a 24-21 lead, its first of the game. Suddenly, the Warhawks’ sideline was rocking, quite the turnaround from a first quarter in which they were outgained 121-9.

“Things weren’t going our way and kinda snowballing against us,” Jackson said. “Our kids really composed themselves, and I think that really shows a lot about their maturity.”

Coles set up Cormier’s go-ahead-score with a 25-yard keeper and a 9-yard pass to Cormier, dancing away from a crowd of defenders to find the running back along the sideline.

Cal commit Jared Goff recaptured the lead for the Wildcats with TD throws on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. But then came Cormier’s 79-yard burst up the middle, and on Marin Catholic’s final possession, Austen Scarville intercepted Goff to seal the game.

Goff finished with 262 yards passing, four touchdowns through the air and another on the ground. Three of those scores came in the game’s first 13 minutes.

But then the Warhawks got going. Over the final three quarters, they outgained the Wildcats 464-282.

“When we got the offensive tempo going like Oregon does, they couldn’t keep up with us,” said Walker, another Arizona commit. “We’re just too fast.”

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