Owls throttle Truman, 31-0
INDEPENDENCE -- It was ground and pound Friday for the Marshall football team during a 31-0 non-conference victory at Truman in Independence.
Both the Owls' first shutout and largest margin of victory this season was the result of a punishing defense which held the opponent to 62 total yards and an offense which controlled time of possession by more than a two-to-one margin.
"Our kids still are playing hard, still believe in themselves," remarked MHS head coach Jon Stockman, seeing a carry-over from the evenly-played second half last week during a 24-6 loss to state-ranked Moberly. "We came up here and got after those guys."
At first it appeared this would be one of the Owls' frustrating games in which they would move the ball in the middle of the field without cashing in. Their 15-play first drive ended when Truman sophomore Van Oswald won a jump ball from senior Tyler Cott for an interception at the Patriots' 7-yard line.
"It was a good throw, we just didn't come down with it," Stockman said about fourth-down pass from senior Josh Glassmaker, who left the game afterwards due to a nagging injury.
Fortunately, Marshall got points on defense when senior Brett Maupin sacked sophomore quarterback Dean Clemons in the end zone for a safety on the next snap.
That was indicative of the Owls' defensive effort, which didn't allow Truman a first down until late in the third quarter.
"Defense played great. Coach [Ian] Verts does a great job with those guys," Stockman said. "The D line played better than it had all season long."
Aided by a roughing-the-passer penalty on a third-down incompletion, Marshall got within striking distance for a 27-yard Cott touchdown run with 6:26 left in the second quarter. Another major penalty, for unsportsmanlike conduct, put the Owls in home territory with under a minute to go in the half.
Senior Canaan Heinzler tossed a 10-yard pass to junior Steven Harms and found Cott for 29 yards to the Patriots' 1-yard line, then sneaked it over from there.
"That was huge," Stockman said. "There was some discussion about a field goal, but we opted to go for it. You've got to get your six there."
Getting the ball back with six seconds left, Truman threw the ball up for grabs, with junior Devin Cott coming down for it and racing 79 yards for an apparent TD -- negated due to a holding penalty behind the play.
Marshall began the second half with a 10-play, 72-yard drive, the Cott brothers sharing the duties carrying the ball. Heinzler's snap count twice drew Truman offside on fourth down to keep the series alive.
"We changed the count up a little bit to see if they would jump," Stockman explained. "We saw that on film quite a bit so we decided to use it to our advantage."
Devin Cott capped the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run and Harris caught a pass in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion.
Harris scored less than a minute later when he picked off a pass at the Patriots' 28-yard line and returned it the distance.
The Owls chewed up nearly nine minutes in the middle of the half with a 15-play possession that gained 64 yards -- 29 on a fourth-down catch by Tyler Cott -- before stalling at the Truman 17. Junior Harrison Rocha's 35-yard field goal attempt had the distance, but barely missed wide to the right.
"At halftime we made a few adjustments to what they were giving us," Stockman said of Marshall's ability to run the ball, which produced 173 yards. "We talked about finishing a game for a full four quarters. I think we did that."
Truman (0-7) had no drive longer than 24 yards and never got past midfield against the Owls' defense.
Marshall (2-5) will be back on the road Friday at defending NCMC champion Hannibal, which had its 13-game league winning streak snapped at Moberly, 56-36.
"We need to keep the momentum going," Stockman said. "We're going to have to practice hard all week, go up there and match their physicality, and see if we can play with those guys."
Contact Chris Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org