Sometimes, it is difficult to find a turning point in a game that eventually turns lopsided — a play that propels a team to victory.
While Marmion cruised to a 38-7 win over Ottawa in its home opener at Fichtel Field, a special teams play at the end of the first quarter put momentum in the Cadets’ favor.
Wet conditions caused slips and fumbles on both sides. All the Cadets had to show for their first three possessions was a 32-yard field goal by sophomore Connor Hoeft.
Ottawa’s muff of a punt was recovered by Patrick Zolfo. Two plays later, junior Lucas Warren barreled up the middle from 10 yards out for the first of his four touchdowns, and the rout was on.
“I’m proud of Patrick for making that play,” said Marmion coach Dan Thorp of Zolfo. “You never know what’s going to happen, but he sprinted down there and capitalized on the opportunity.”
The Cadets held on downs on Ottawa’s ensuing possession, and once again it took two plays to score from 81 yards. Russ Joyce found Eric Bacorn (two catches, 83 yards) behind the Pirate defense for 54 yards. Then Warren, a 6-0, 250-pound bruiser, rumbled in for a 27-yard TD.
Four offensive plays in about five minutes gave Marmion a 17-0 advantage. Against an Ottawa triple-option offense that doesn’t have a passing game, the outcome was essentially decided.
“First home game, we worked hard all week at practice and the line was firing out,” Warren said. “We have a huge line this year and they were opening up huge holes. We have a few things we can work on, but it was a great game.”
The Cadets crowded the line of scrimmage and held the Pirates to 15 yards on 19 carries in the first half. The Pirates (0-2) didn’t complete a pass until the third quarter and didn’t get past the Cadet 44 until Josh Williams’ 75-yard TD run in the fourth against the Cadet reserves.
“On defense, we’re pretty big, we’re athletic, and we run a sophisticated plan,” Thorp noted. “All three of our defensive coaches were former college coordinators. But it doesn’t mean anything unless the kids execute, and we’re blessed at Marmion with smart kids who do their homework.”
While Marmion (2-0) was shutting down the Ottawa offense, the Cadets’ offense racked up 287 yards oin the first half, which ended with Marmion up 24-0.
The highlight of the game was Warren’s only carry of the second half. He got past the Pirate defense, outraced them, then put an emphatic stiff-arm on Ottawa’s defensive back to finish a 56-yard scoring run. The junior, who had six TDs as a sophomore last season, finished with 147 yards on just 11 carries.
“My teammates all think I’m slow, so I had a little fun on the sidelines after that long run,” Warren said.
Elijah Baltazar got the Cadets’ final score on a 29-yard return of a fumble.
“We talked to the guys about how we have to be good enough to overcome the rain and other distractions, and we responded,” Thorp said.