Boonville hands Owls sixth straight loss
BOONVILLE -- The Marshall football team was shut out for the fourth time in the last nine games, stretching its losing streak to six games over the past two seasons during Friday's 41-0 NCMC setback at Boonville.
Senior quarterback Wes Davis beat the Owls with his feet, rushing for 156 yards and four touchdowns. The Pirates' offense generated 324 total yards, while their defense allowed only 52 yards.
"We got beat," was MHS head coach Jay Eilers' succinct description. "They're good up front."
Boonville (2-1, 2-0 NCMC) capitalized on the breaks it received early in the game to build a 16-0 first-quarter lead. After being held on their first possession, the Pirates got the ball at the Marshall 19-yard line when Davis scooped up a fumble and raced to the end zone -- a score nullified by an illegal block.
The Owls objected to the turnover, believing that junior Brandon Johnson only lost control of the ball when his knee hit the ground. That, and Davis' 1-yard TD run -- in which he appeared to crawl across the goal line -- was the first of several objections Marshall coaches had with the officials, which would come to a head later.
The ensuing kickoff was touched, but not caught, by the Owls before rolling out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Two plays later, junior Alex Maupin was sacked in the end zone by junior James Barnhart for a safety.
When Boonville got the ball back, a 15-yard Davis run began a seven-play, 46-yard drive which ended with senior Dyllan Crowley's 4-yard touchdown plunge.
"You can't give anyone a short field. Nobody," Eilers said. "It's something we have to shore up."
Marshall kept the Pirates off the board for the rest of the half, but was unable to generate a first down until the final possession of the second period on Johnson's 19-yard run. The Owls made it to the Boonville 15-yard line before back-to-back penalties thwarted their drive.
"That effort put them in position to keep them in the game," Eilers said about the defense's second-quarter shutout. "Our kid's effort is never in question."
However, Marshall's ability to stop opponents is suspect, and the Pirates' four possessions resulting in touchdowns to begin the second half testified to that. Davis ran in from 21, 4 and 13 yards and his back-up, junior Jared Oser, broke off a 39-yard dash to cap the scoring.
Two of those scoring series began in Boonville's "red zone" and another started inside the Owls' 40.
"Our kids visually see responsibilities and schemes, they understand the schemes," Eilers said. But there's a price being paid for the team's young, skimpy roster. "Right now it's difficult for us to practice anywhere similar to the actual speed of the game."
Meanwhile, the Marshall bench was becoming increasingly irritated by what it regarded as cheap shots and trash talking by the Pirates, eventually resulting in a warning by referee Phil Francher and brief confrontation with Eilers. No penalties were issued at the time, though, in a contest which saw 18 flags thrown.
The Owls (0-3, 0-2) have been out-scored 115-20 in their three losses.
"We have to coach better, we've got to play better," Eilers admitted. "But nobody in that locker room needs to care more."
On the bright side, Marshall finally gets to play on Cecil Naylor Field this week after opening the season with three straight road games. The Owls' Homecoming opponent will be a Fulton squad which is similarly struggling, with three losses by a combined 159-17 margin.
"I hope the community comes out and supports our young men," Eilers declared. "We want that Homecoming experience to be the best that it can be, and that means a win for Homecoming."