Exceeding the previous week's flag-fest at St. Joseph, 32 penalties for 239 yards were whistled against the two teams during Marshall's 35-15 NCMC win. Of these, half were persnickety pre-snap line-of-scrimmage violations.
No wonder Owls head coach Jon Stockman couldn't get the sight of yellow cloth out of his mind long enough to savor the victory.
"It's the first conference, the first district and the first home-field win -- that's a great thing," he said. "The penalties and (three) personal fouls are disappointing. We're going to get those corrected."
Marshall's offense, anemic a year ago, produced 242 rushing yards -- a career-high 205 on 22 carries by senior Marc Plummer. Two of those came on the Owls' first possession, a 41-yard dash and 20-yard touchdown run.
"We just spread them out a little bit and ran trap," Stockman explained. "It was open, we stayed with it, got downfield and got in."
The Bulldogs were limited to two first downs during their first four series, each ending in the punt -- the last one returned 92 yards by senior Brandon Johnson, helped by a downfield block by Joe Damiano. That broke the school record of Anthony Thompson's 89-yarder at Moberly in 2006.
The Owls' offense, though, kept stalling due to mistakes. Mexico closed within striking range when junior Jamel Taylor rumbled 64 yards -- nearly half of his team's total rushing yardage for the game -- before being caught by Plummer at the 2-yard line.
After a rash of penalties, Taylor banged in from a yard out, but Marshall answered quickly with a 10-play, 70-yard drive. Junior Tyler Cott got it going with a 19-yard reception and four runs for 26 yards. Plummer gained 15 yards to inside the Mexico 10.
After a holding call wiped out a Plummer TD, senior quarterback Alex Maupin scrambled 19 yards for the score.
Senior Matt Ridgway hooked up with sophomore Tyler Bracht on passes of 19 and 16 yards, with a late hit setting the 'Dogs up at the Marshall 14 with 15.9 seconds left in the half. However, sophomore Devin Cott picked off a pass at the goal line.
Plummer broke away for an 80-yard sprint off tackle on the final play of the half, but an illegal procedure penalty wiped out a potential score for the third time of the game.
"It should have been over at halftime if we cut the flags out," Stockman said. "That stalled several drives instead of going in the end zone."
The Owls opened the third period with a 77-yard march, helped by two major fouls on Mexico. Plummer picked up 19 yards to the 'Dogs' 15, but on second down and goal from the 1-yard line Marshall was called for holding.
Once more, Maupin shrugged off the miscue and drilled a 13-yard scoring strike to Johnson for a 29-7 lead.
"You got to come out with confidence, put the ball in the end zone and try to put them away early in the second half," Stockman said.
Mexico was unable to move the ball on its two possessions of the period, but did get going against the Owls' reserves during the final frame -- after a 19-yard TD run by Plummer with 10:23 left. A 28-yard run by sophomore Skylar Harrington got the Bulldogs to the Marshall 15, but a fourth-down try came up short.
A 27-yard Ridgway pass to Bracht led to his 5-yard touchdown reception with 2:10 remaining to make the final score less lopsided. Ridgway finished with 140 passing yards for Mexico (0-3, 0-1 NCMC).
Although the 18 penalties against them were a sore spot, the Owls could take solace in the lack of turnovers -- after three costly ones the week before against Lafayette.
Even with the win, Marshall (2-1, 1-0) remains the sixth seed in the Class 4, District 6 standings, but will have a chance to climb Friday when it plays at No. 5 Kirksville.
"They're a good football team, they've got a lot of speed," Stockman observed. "We're going to have to go up there and play real well."