Madison football coach Mark Gosnell keeps a small sign on his office desk.
It contains a quote from Walt Disney: “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”
Yes, it is.
Gosnell and the Patriots followed up last week’s first state playoff win with a second Friday night, edging Owen, 14-7, in front of their home crowd at Roberts Stadium.
Tyler Rogers threw for 129 yards and competed both his touchdown passes to fellow junior Cole Cuthbertson (28 and 72 yards).
Third-seeded Madison (12-1) advances to play either No. 5 Shelby (7-5) or No. 9 Polk County in the third round of the NCHSAA 2-A playoffs. Either way, the Patriots will be home once again to try to build on their best football season in school history.
“To know where this program has been and where it’s going is incredible,” Gosnell said. “I can’t say enough about these kids or our coaches. This town has been hungry for something like this, and our community is doing its best every week to be our 12th man.”
Cuthbertson’s longest touchdown reception came with just 4 minutes, 58 seconds to go to break a 7-all tie and end the season for the No. 13 Warhorses (6-7).
Friday’s score was the same as when the two Western Highlands Conference teams met during the regular season (Madison also won that game in Marshall on Oct. 5).
“Both teams played their hearts out,” Gosnell said. “Owen always plays us hard, so we knew it was going to be tough. Our programs are so much alike. We were just lucky to execute in the end.”
Rogers also rushed for a team-high 66 yards. Rather than try to punch in another touchdown, the Patriots took a knee at Owen’s 6-yard line as time expired.
Cuthbertson also had a fumble recovery and an interception.
Owen sophomore Jager Gardner concluded a 1,000-yard season with 85 more yards Friday.
“This team went through a lot today,” Warhorses coach Kenny Ford. “One our best players (Cole Leighton) fell down some stairs, so he couldn’t play tonight. But these kids battled through it and really put up a fight. It was a good game.”
Ford has won more than 200 games at the Swannanoa Valley school and said he has not made a decision about a potential 27th season at Owen.
Defense dominated a scoreless first half Friday.
Owen took the ball into Madison territory with its first four possessions but came away with no points.
Gardner had 50 of his yards at the break. He began the season solely as a wide receiver but ended up rushing for a team-high 1,529 yards as a 10th grader.
The Patriots punted four times in the first half. Three of those instances came after the home team failed to get a first down.
Rogers threw just his seventh interception of the season, which was picked off by Owen’s Bryan Johnson before halftime.