Home opener spoiled: Pioneers fall to Crusaders

Big plays in the second half of Saturday’s college football game at Don Drumm Stadium lifted the Capital Crusaders over Marietta College 42-13.

With just over a minute left in the third quarter and Marietta trailing 14-13, Capital quarterback Chase Longwell threw up a jump ball into the left side of the end-zone that receiver Jacob Batcho went up and grabbed for a 24-yard touchdown.

On its next drive, Capital scored on another big pass play when Longwell found running back Alex Coleman streaking up the left sideline for a 43-yard score to extend the Crusaders’ lead to 28-13.

In the final four minutes of regulation, Capital scored on a 1-yard run by Longwell and a 5-yard run by Alex Nydza to all but end it.

“We just did not finish the game the way that we wanted to,” said Marietta College head coach Andy Waddle.

Marietta had two long drives deep into Capital territory early in the second half, but both possessions stalled and ended in field goal attempts.

“Obviously we want to get touchdowns when we get into the red zone, but it’s just really important for us that we’re coming away with points,” Waddle said. “We did that with the exception of the one missed field goal. We need to get it in the end zone, for sure.”

Marietta jumped out to a 7-0 lead early, with an assist from the Capital offense. The Crusaders took the ball to the Pioneer 32-yard line before Brent Walton fumbled, recovered by Marietta’s Robert Brown at the 12.

The Pios took advantage of the turnover, driving 88 yards in 12 plays, capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Tom Fulton to Josh Llaneza. Williamstown graduate Garret Butler hit the PAT to make it 7-0. Rushes of 26 and 13 yards from Tim Conner fueled the drive for MC.

With four minutes left in the first quarter, Capital threatened to tie the game. A 19-yard pass play from Longwell to Stephen Lemieux and 20-yard rush by Walton set up the Crusaders inside the red-zone. An 8-yard run by Bo Hardy made it 2nd-and-2 at the 5, before an incomplete pass and 1-yard gain by Longwell made it 4th-and-1. Longwell faked a hand-off on the 4th-down play but was stopped for a 2-yard loss by Marietta’s Daryl DeWindt on the roll-out for a turnover on downs.

The Pioneers were unable to move the ball on their ensuing possession, but a 50-yard punt by Warren graduate Chas Miller from his own end-zone and a holding penalty on Capital put the ball at the Crusader 37. Capital drove to the Marietta 29, but Travis Bosanac’s 46-yard field goal attempt fell just short.

Just as Marietta did early in the game, Capital benefited from an offensive miscue by its opponent. Fulton had a 2nd-down pass attempt intercepted by Capital’s Bryant Bokovitz, who returned it to the Pioneer 27. A personal foul on Marietta put the ball at the 13.

From there it took three plays for Capital, the third being a 10-yard run by Alex Coleman, to get the ball into the end-zone. Bosanac converted the PAT to tie the game at 7-all.

The Pioneers responded quickly to the Capital score, as an 8-yard run by Tannon Roberts and a 9-yard pass from Fulton to Llaneza put the ball at midfield. Fulton then completed a 13-yard pass to Conner before Roberts took a carry nine yards to the Capital 23. Runs of 11 and 6 yards by Conner set up 3rd-and-goal at the Crusader 3. A personal foul by Marietta pushed the ball back to the 18. On 4th-down, Butler drilled a 35-yard field attempt to make it a 10-7 game with 3:28 remaining in the first half.

Capital used that time wisely, driving down to the Marietta 1-yard line with 12 seconds left. On 3rd-and-goal with no timeouts, Capital attempted a run with Longfellow, but DeWindt busted through the line to take the ball-carrier down for a 6-yard loss. That sent the game into halftime with MC up 10-7.

Marietta got the ball to start the second half, and appeared to be on its way to more points, but Butler’s 37-yard field goal try went wide right.

The Crusaders made that hurt, as they needed just four plays to get into the end-zone from their own 21. A 29-yard pass from Longwell to Justin Bubar set up Hardy’s 45-yard touchdown run. Bosanac’s kick made the score 14-10.

Marietta made it a one-point game on its next possession. A 29-yard scamper up the right sideline by Patrick Lewis put the ball at the Crusader 34. The Pioneers then gained 12 yards on a pass from Fulton to Roberts and then 12 more on a run by Conner set up Butler’s 25-yard field goal.

From there, it was all Capital. Perhaps the biggest bright spot of the game for the Pioneers was their running game. Marietta did not have a 100-yard rusher in a single game all of last season. That streak came to an end Saturday, as Conner amassed 114 yards on 20 carries. Lewis also had a nice game out of the backfield with 68 yards on nine rushes. Waddle would like to see that success continue.

“We want to establish the run,” Waddle said. “We want to be a football team that can run the ball. We want to be a football team that can control the line of scrimmage. That’s gonna be big for us going forward. We want to continue running the football.”

Fulton finished the game 19-for-39 passing for 142 yards, a touchdown and an interception. His top receiver was Harris, who caught eight balls for 57 yards.

Capital, which totaled 579 yards of offense, was led in the ground game by Walton, who had eight carries for 131 yards. Longwell contributed 84 yards on 21 rushes and was 7-for-12 through the air for 150 yards and two scores.

On defense, Jake Hammer led MC with 20 total tackles. DeWindt added 12 tackles, including three for a loss.