Owls take on streaking Mexico

Friday, October 15, 2004
For the Owls to be successful against Mexico, the play of their linemen -- like sophomore guard Josh Chastine (65) -- will be critical.

There wasn't much time for the Marshall football team to enjoy its 27-25 Homecoming victory over Moberly last week.

Not, certainly, with a visit to hot Mexico on the horizon. The Owls are hoping to break their win-one, lose-one pattern against a club with has five straight victories -- the last an impressive 20-12 decision over Hannibal -- to share the NCMC lead.

"We're going to find out what we're made of," remarked Marshall head coach Paul Thomas. "It sure would be nice to be above .500 going into districts."

It would also be nice to play more competitively against the Bulldogs than last year, when Mexico held the Owls to 28 rushing and 49 total yards during a 25-7 win. The difference was in the pits, where the Dawgs pushed Marshall's line all over the lot.

"We know what they're going to do, and their line is outstanding," Thomas asserted. "They're playing with a lot of confidence."

Thomas likens Mexico (5-1, 2-0 NCMC) to Kirksville -- not good news for the Owls, who were dominated by the Tigers, 27-7, two weeks ago -- in size and physical approach.

The 'Dogs average 254 pounds per man on each side of the line -- four of the five interior linemen play both ways -- and they can pound it out running the ball out of their veer, with senior quarterback Tyler Haden accounting for 314 yards and three touchdowns as the leader of four nearly-equal ballcarriers.

Marshall (3-3, 2-2) has been much better offensively than a year ago, averaging 210.5 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry, but it hasn't been consistently gained.

"We've got to block better than a year ago, and stay with our blocks," Thomas declared. "Their line is huge and does a good job of letting their linebackers" -- notably senior Aubrey Johnson, with 92 tackles -- "get to the ball."

Nevertheless, Thomas believes his Owls may be able to give Mexico a better game than a year ago.

"They're a good football team and I feel we're a good football team," he said. "We just have to play four quarters."

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