A veteran Marion County team dominated the first half of play at Diemel Field on Friday night and handed a young Pacelli team its second consecutive loss in a 35-0 shutout. The Vikings fall to 4-2 with the defeat, while the Eagles move to 5-1 overall and into the driver's seat in Region 4-A with a 3-0 mark.
"When you are a young team like we are, a fumble on offense or a fumble on a punt can really take the wind right out of you," said Vikings coach Randy Grace. "We responded well in spots tonight, but we are still that team right now who has to learn how to respond big when we have adversity."
"Marion County is a veteran team with a lot of experience and I think they are 29-4 now over the last three seasons and have won this region the last two years," he added. "I am proud of our kids' effort in the second half. We are playing tougher and getting better, we just have to continue to improve."
Marion county began six of its seven possessions in the first half inside Pacelli territory and took advantage of two Pacelli turnovers to dominate play in the first half.
"We replaced seven guys on the defensive side of the ball, and when you play an option team, you not only have to be physical, but you have to carry out your assignments," Eagles coach Mike Swaney said. "I was proud of our guys for doing that tonight."
Sophomore quarterback Dustin Eckert, who only found out Thursday he would start in place of senior Demarquez Mallard, capped a seven-play drive with a 1-yard plunge for the score. A.J. Wells added the point-after for a 7-0 lead with 6:45 left in the first period.
Mallard, incidentally, sat out the first half of the game due to a disciplinary issue.
"We started our little sophomore quarterback tonight and he did a really nice job. I was really proud of the offense for picking him up tonight," Swaney said.
Marion County took just four plays to score after holding Pacelli on downs on its next possession. James Taylor ripped off left tackle for the final 35 yards, and after the Wells kick it was 14-0 with 1:37 left in the first.
A fumble by Luke Dawahare after a big hit on a punt gave the Eagles the ball at the Viking 19. Four plays later Taylor scooted into the end zone from 1 yard out, and the kick made it 21-0 with 5:09 left.
Marion County would score two more times before time expired in the half. After a sack by Thomas Russell set up a second-and-long for Marion County, Eckert found Markeese Bridges down the right sideline for a 39-yard score. The Wells kick made it 28-0 with 1:21 left in the half.
After a fumble gave the ball back to the Eagles with 37 seconds to play in the half at the Pacelli 30, Taylor broke free for a 26-yard run to the Viking 15. After a spike to stop the clock, Eckert got his second TD pass, again hooking up with Bridges for a 15-yard pass with 10.4 seconds left in the half. Wells booted the PAT and made it 35-0.
Pacelli travels to Greenville next week for another region matchup, while Marion County is at Dooly County in a showdown between the top two teams in region 4-A.
Friday at Deimel Field
Marion Co. 14 21 0 0 --35
Pacelli 0 0 0 0 --0
MC--Dustin Eckert 1-yd. run (AJ Wells kick), 6:45
MC--James Taylor 35-yd. run (Wells kick), 1:37)
MC--Taylor 1-yd. run (Wells kick). 5:09
MC--Markeese Bridges 39 pass from Eckert (Wells kick), 1:21
MC--Bridges 15-yd. pass from Eckert (Wells kick), 0:10
Next Game: Marion County at Dooly Co., October 19; Pacelli at Greenville, October 19.