MSH football: Big plays propel Owls to first win

Monday, September 28, 2009
Shortly before catching his first TD pass, Owls senior Kevin Benton (3) stretched out for first-down yardage. (Chris Allen/Democrat-News)

MEXICO -- It wasn't the kind of complete performance desired, but the Marshall football team did enough things on both sides of the line of scrimmage to pick up its first win of the season.

"We just had to get a win and get some confidence," remarked assistant coach Jon Stockman following the Owls' 27-6 NCMC victory Friday at Mexico -- which suffered its third straight loss by that score.

Marshall only had one sustained drive on offense, but came up with three big scoring plays and kept the Bulldogs from moving the ball effectively -- especially during a second half in which the home team had only 41 net yards.

"The last half against Sedalia [Smith-Cotton] and the last two games, they played well defensively," Stockman observed.

After the opening kickoff caromed off one of the Owls' blockers and was recovered by Mexico, poor field position was a handicap for Marshall.

The Bulldogs began their first three drives in opposing territory, twice getting first downs inside the Birds' 15-yard line, but couldn't come up with points.

After the third unsuccessful series, a Mexico punt was downed at the Owls' 1-yard line late in the first quarter.

That looked like trouble when the first two plays gained only a yard, but on third down senior Lucas Hart found senior Kevin Benton for a 40-yard reception and the march was on.

"I don't think they were expecting that," Stockman said. "They were loading the box."

Marshall ground its way to the 'Dogs' 29, but faced third and 7 yards to go when Hart again hooked up with Benton, who outran the defense 29 yards to the corner of the end zone. Freshman Zach Bishop, replacing the Owls' regular kicker -- sophomore Aaron Skinner, who was sick -- nailed the extra point.

That allowed Marshall to stay ahead when the Bulldogs went 65 yards on 12 plays, overcoming three penalties in the process thanks to 29 yards rushing and 39 passing by senior Kurt Loyd, to score on sophomore Shia Miller's one-foot plunge and the conversion kick sailed wide.

With only 2:10 left in the half, it appeared the Owls would have to be satisfied with a one-point lead, until they got the ball to the fastest player on the field. Senior Matt Buford, a two-time conference sprint champion, juggled a hitch pass to the left sideline -- but then gripped the ball, shook off a defender and sped away from everybody for a 63-yard touchdown.

"It's a game of momentum," Stockman noted. "The momentum shifted for us and we finished it out."

While the first half was played mostly in Marshall's end of the field, the Dawgs found their backs to the wall after the break -- Hart having three punts downed inside the 20-yard line.

On their second series, the Owls added to their lead when senior Matt Jacobs -- bottled up during the first half -- broke loose for a 56-yard TD dash, the second-longest of his career.

Marshall recovered the ensuing kickoff, which bounced off the front line like the game-opening one, but was unable to do anything with it except pin the Bulldogs deep in their own end.

That paid off midway through the fourth quarter when Mexico sophomore Austin Reed shanked a punt from his own 8-yard line. The ball stopped near the sideline.

Senior Chase Kempf, realizing nobody was near him, picked it up and rambled 13 yards for the score -- possibly the shortest unblocked punt return for a touchdown in Missouri history.

The Bulldogs (1-4, 1-3 NCMC) had one more chance, when a Marshall reserve muffed a punt at his own 13 with 2:41 remaining, but junior Jonathon Phillips broke through for his second sack of the game on third down and the fourth-down pass fell incomplete.

The Owls had five sacks, senior Dalton Jarvis involved in two of them, after not getting any during the first four games.

However, Jacobs was held under 100 rushing yards for the second straight outing after breaking that mark 10 games in a row.

"I think if we can get the offensive line healthy, we'll get back to rushing the football," Stockman said. "There's been a lot of injuries and illness this week and the team overcame that."

Marshall (1-4, 1-1) will return home Friday for the Football in Pink cancer awareness game against Fulton, which won a 35-34 double-overtime thriller last year.

"We need to come out, get on them early, and pound them," Stockman declared.

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  • Way to go Owls! Keep it up!!!

    -- Posted by OldOwl on Mon, Sep 28, 2009, at 3:59 PM
  • What???? No one has anything to say now???? Interesting....there have been ALOT of people with ALOT to say in the past. They win and now NOTHING. Thats nice.

    -- Posted by freckles on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 6:07 AM
  • Lets see, why don't the head coach ride on the bus his players ride on? Great interview ASSISTANT COACH Stockman!! At least YOU show some intrest in your players! HOWS THAT?

    -- Posted by yomomma on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 8:05 AM
  • Way to go Owls!!! Way to beat 1-4 Mexico! Is that better? I think no one has anything to say because we're SUPPOSED to beat Mexico. From the time they became a town until now...Mexico should NEVER beat Marshall.

    -- Posted by er on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 11:04 AM
  • er what do mean we are supposed to beat mexico, they have always given marshall competition in many sports and have had some awesome athletes come out of there, anyone remember the mason twins or dedrick harrington? it used to be that marshall was supposed to beat moberly all the time and it was mostly true up to a few years ago, things change and you have no clue what you are talking about.

    -- Posted by PaperPro on Tue, Sep 29, 2009, at 10:43 PM
  • Well said Young Man!!!

    -- Posted by local-A-rod on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 10:40 AM
  • Good job OWLS!!!

    -- Posted by mizufan08 on Wed, Sep 30, 2009, at 2:04 PM
  • excuse me for butting in, but i couldn't help but notice PAPERPRO that you mentioned dedrick harrington, and the mason twins, all three of which i personally know. Yes those three kids and THAT particular mexico team gave the owls a couple of good games, but do you remember when that was, i believe Harrington was a senior in '01. that was eight years ago. The level of talent in the NCMC has decreased without question. Mexico is class football program, with a class head coach, with mediocre talent, as most teams in our conference have, mediocre talent. Yeah i said it, we have mediocre talent, why because the game of football is not as important to kids as used to be. Everybody wants to talk about Coach Naylor, yes it was great coach, a hall of fame coach. But why do you think that was? he runs a similar offense to that of the present day owls... Because the kids were physical and they cared. They had the will to win. All of the coaching staff now, and i have seen it before my own eyes, gives the owls the best opportunity to win. The kids are not physical, with the exception of a few. The kids are more worried about going out on a thursday night and throwin a few back cause in high school it's the cool thing to do even when you have a game the next day, but it's ok because you have all day friday to sober up. That right there shows me that the kids don't care. Everybody whines and complains about how coach thomas needs to do this and needs to that. Well here's what you all need to do... shut the hell up. Nobody gives a crap about what you think he should be doing. He's a smashmouth, black and white guy. He doesn't pull any punches and he expects to win every game. Quit doubting what the system is or isn't. Coach Thomas will set his team up for success. It's on the players to execute the game plan. Start freakin instilling some discipline in the kids and expect nothing less than everything they have.

    Now, that being said.... i would like to mention that the little rumor going around that coach thomas is leaving because of his daughter graduating, is complete crap. I don't know who started but if he does leave.... it won't be because of his daughter leaving, it'll be because he's sick of setting his teams up week after week for success and then they go out don't perform. Everybody body thought coach thomas was leaving when his son was leaving too, remember???? Back off and let the man do what he gets paid to do!!!

    -- Posted by doyouknowwhoiam on Wed, Oct 14, 2009, at 12:13 PM
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