YORKVILLE - It was just a matter of time before Buckeye Local's Austin Marshall would showcase his talents, and to the dismay of John Marshall, he chose Friday night.
Opening the contest with a long kickoff return to set up one score and returning an interception 40 yards for another, Marshall sparked the Panthers to a 20-6 victory against the Monarchs at Memorial Stadium.
Coach Phil Pest's Panthers improved to 2-1 while Rick Goodrich's Monarchs dropped to 0-3.
''We told our kids before the game that we needed to start fast and try to get a couple scores on the board early and just see how John Marshall can handle it,'' Pest said. ''We did just that and things worked out well.
''When we had that long touchdown called back, they started to bounce back. They fought back. They are a much better team than they have been. That certainly wasn't an easy win. He has done a good job there so far.''
Buckeye brought the fans to their feet early with an electrifying 53-yard kickoff return by senior speedster Marshall. Marshall took the kick at his own 14, broke clean through the middle and reached the Monarchs 33 before being stopped.
With good field position, the Panthers needed four plays to get on the board. Marshall ran off the right side for 8 before the speedy Andy Stock broke off the left side for 24 yards to the 1.
Two plays later Nathan Kirk scored on a keeper. The hosts led by 6-0 with 10:21 on the clock.
Regaining possession with 8:11 left in the first, the Panthers put together an 80-yard, eight-play drive. With Marshall, Devan Pyciak and Stock moving the ball the 37 on consecutive carries. Shane Duncan made an excellent catch of a Kirk pass covering 29 yards and a face mask infraction pushed the hosts to the 19. Three plays later, Kirk rifled a bullet to Duncan in the end zone from 13 yards out with 4:18 showing on the board.
In the second quarter, Buckeye had what would have been a 74-yard scoring pass from Kirk to Duncan called back.
John Marshall got on the board with a well-engineered 60-yard drive that featured 10 rushes including a 15-yarder by Jacob Woods that set up Jeremiah Fromhart's 1-yard plunge for a score with 2:58 left in the half.
John Marshall offense was responsible for keeping the Buckeye offense off the field in the second quarter, giving the hosts time enough to run only four plays. In the third session, the Monarchs appeared to be ready to again keep the Panthers offense on the sidelines.
JM opened the second half with a lengthy drive that consumed nearly eight minutes and consisted of 15 plays. The Buckeye defense, sparked by Pyciak, Duncan and freshman Dylan Dokes, stuffed the Monarchs when they needed to forcing a 25-yard field-goal attempt with 4:05 left in the third. The kick was wide left.
Buckeye, whose punting game had struggled in the first two outings, was on target in the second half with Christian Hopkins putting the visitors inside their own five on three occasions in the second half.
With 5:45 left in the contest, Marshall gave the Panthers some breathing room. He picked off a JM pass at the 40, cut across field, then scampered untouched to the end zone. Kirk's pass to Duncan for the PATs handed the hosts a 20-6 lead.
''We're still having trouble reaching the finish line,'' Goodrich said. ''We just need the first opportunity. It will happen and when it does it will just snowball from there.
''We can't complain about the effort our kids are giving us. You just can't spot a team two touchdowns. We need to start better. We just need to go back to the drawing board and prepare for Oak Glen.''