GREENVILLE, Pa. — Big plays from all three facets of the
team propelled Marietta College football to a 28-7 season-opening
victory over host Thiel College Saturday (Sept. 4) afternoon. [Box
The win extended the Pioneers' win streak to seven games over the Tomcats and helped them open the season with a victory for the 15th time in the last 17 years.
Marietta's offense started slow with a three-and-out on its first possession. The Pioneers converted a pair of third downs on their second drive before sophomore quarterback Andrew Keller (Cincinnati/Glen Este) raced 55 yards for a touchdown to give his squad the 7-0 advantage with 3:20 to play in the first quarter.
Thiel was threatening to even the score near the end of the half, until freshman defensive back Jordan Ellison (Douglasville, Ga./South Paulding) intercepted a pass in the end zone in the final minute to preserve the seven-point advantage as the teams headed into intermission.
The Tomcats finally got on the board in the third quarter. Running back Ross Gargano raced in from three yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with 5:55 remaining in the period.
The two teams remained locked in a 7-7 battle as the fourth quarter began. That quickly changed when Keller connected with junior wide receiver Jahmaal Jones (Valrico, Fla./Bloomingdale) for a 70-yard touchdown strike to give the Pioneers back the lead with 12:30 left to play in the game.
Junior linebacker Joe Williams (Akron/Archbishop Hoban) intercepted a pass on a fake punt on Thiel's ensuing possession and returned it 52 yards for a touchdown to extend Marietta's advantage to 21-7 just two minutes later.
Pioneer freshman corner back Robert Brown (Orange Park, Fla./Nathan B. Forrest) then added an 18-yard interception return for a touchdown with 3:38 left on the clock to cap the scoring at 28-7.
Marietta's offense held the ball for 24:18 and finished with 224 yards of total offense. The Pioneers rushed for 118 yards. Keller led the ground attack with 11 carries for 62 yards, while sophomore Tevin Dones (Oakley, Calif./Antioch) added 17 carries for 43 yards. Keller also completed 7-of-13 passes and threw for 106 yards. Senior wide receiver Cory Kriechbaum (Marietta/Marietta) pulled in five receptions for 28 yards, while Jones caught the other two passes totaling 78 yards.
Thiel collected 239 yards of total offense in its 34:52 with the ball. Quarterback Andrew Smith finished 12-of-31 and threw for 163 yards, while Gargano led the running game with 26 carries for 67 yards. Cash Culver caught a team-best four passes for 27 yards, while Tyler DeJong had three receptions for 98 yards.
The Pioneer defense produced five interceptions and finished with 10 tackles for loss, including three sacks. Sophomore strong safety Rahkeem Caver (Hamilton/Hamilton) and Williams both finished with a game-high nine total stops. Junior linebacker Dan Starr (Senecaville/Buckeye Trail) added eight tackles, while senior defensive end Adam Tate (Chesterhill/Federal Hocking) had seven hits.
Bobby Shew anchored Thiel's defense with nine total tackles, including three for loss and two sacks. Tim Taylor added eight hits, while Hunter Liptrap had five in the loss.
Marietta now turns its attention to rival Muskingum University. The Fighting Muskies will visit Don Drumm Stadium Sept. 18 for an Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) match-up at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 is Alumni Day and the sixth annual River City Bowl. It was also be the kick off celebration to the Don Drumm Stadium Project. A free tailgate will begin behind the stadium at 4:30 p.m.
WTAP-TV will broadcast the game live and online at http://www.wtap.com. In addition, WMOA-AM 1490 and WMRT-FM 88.3 will broadcast the game over the airways and online. Live stats will also be available at http://www.sidearmstats.com/marietta/football/