Sports Talk: Marietta suffers 2nd-half blues

Marietta College was the better football team in the first half.

But after the break…well, it was pretty much all Capital University as the visitors from Columbus rallied to defeat the Andy Waddle-coached Pioneers, 42-13, in an Ohio Athletic Conference opener at Don Drumm Stadium.

By the look of the final score, it was a blowout – but only in the second half when the Crusaders (1-1 overall, 1-0 OAC) outpointed MC, 35-3.

Those were probably the quietest 35 points put up on the scoreboard.

During the first 30 minutes of action, Marietta (0-2, 0-1) owned the whip hand, and never trailed. The Pioneers scored first on QB Tom Fulton’s five-yard touchdown pass to Josh Llaneza in the opening stanza. The navy blue and white also got a 35-yard field goal from Garret Butler in the second period.

Just before the intermission, Marietta had its second goal-line stand in the contest when Daryl DeWindt sacked Cap signal caller Chase Longwell as time expired.

Earlier, during first-quarter action, the Pioneer defense forced the Crusaders to turn the ball over on downs on a fourth down situation inside the five-yard line.

Clinging to a 10-7 advantage, MC had good reason to feel good about itself going into the locker room at halftime.

Unfortunately, what momentum Marietta had didn’t return to the playing field in the second half.

In the third quarter, Capital scored first to take its first lead of the game, 14-10. But Marietta answered that with another Butler field goal, this one from 25-yards, to reduce the deficit to one point.

The Crusaders, though, got another TD in the third, making it 21-13.

The game was still close, and the fourth quarter had all the makings of a down-to-the-wire battle.

Well, it was a battle all right, and a lopsided one at that as Capital scored three more touchdowns to win going away.

So what happened?

Simply put, Cap made the big plays, and MC didn’t. Also, the Pioneer defense spent too much time on the field – and that’s never a good thing.

On the plus side, Marietta had its first 100-yard rusher in a game since 2010. Five-foot-ten, 205-pound junior Tim Conner gained 114 yards on 20 carries. He would no doubt give a lot of credit to the offensive line.

MC’s kicking game looked good with Butler of Williamstown making two-of-three field goal attempts, and Chas Miller of Warren averaging 44 yards on three punts.

And, senior linebacker Jake Hammer finished with a Pioneer-high 20 tackles.

While Capital coach Craig Candeto got his first win at the Crusader helm, Waddle is still seeking his as the Pioneer boss.

MC’s gridiron schedule is brutal in the next four weeks with its OAC opponents being Mount Union, Heidelberg, John Carroll, and Ohio Northern in that order.

Anything is possible, though, especially if the Pioneers can play a full game like they did in the first half against Capital.

Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at