MOUNDSVILLE - John Marshall knew it would need some breaks Friday night in order to hang in for the long haul with West Virginia Class AAA No. 5 University. So when Hawks quarterback Jack Armstrong, subbing for an injured Travis Renner, fumbled on the first snap and the Monarchs recovered, things were looking good.
John Marshall (2-5) eventually moved the ball to University 1 but was stopped on three consecutive plays and the Hawks took over.
That was the Monarchs' last real chance as University clinched a playoff berth with a 34-0 victory at Monarch Stadium.
John Marshall’s Jeremiah Fromhart fights for yardage Friday night against University.
''We didn't score when we had the opportunity early and that made a difference in the tone of the game,'' John Marshall coach Rick Goodrich said. ''But give them credit, they're a good football team.''
Running the read option, the Hawks racked up 304 yards on the ground led by a game-high 103 and a touchdown on 11 carries by Armstrong, who is a receiver by trade.
The game was scoreless until the 6:09 mark of the second quarter when University's Tyler Pitkel (seven carries, 38 yards) capped a 56-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown. Less than five minutes later, it was 14-0 as Armstrong made an acrobatic interception of Jeremiah Fromhart and marched into the end zone from 34 yards.
''That pick was a D-I pick, I thought. He broke on that ball like a jet,'' University coach John Kelley said.
Goodrich was impressed.
''A couple of interceptions were just great athletic plays on their part. Jeremiah made good decisions, their kids just made better athletic plays,'' he said.
On the Hawks' next drive, Chance Michael (eight carries, 88 yards, TD) burst into the secondary for a gain of 34 that set up a 28-yard field goal by William Kinney with 1:47 left in the half to make it 17-0. University wasn't done however, and forced JM into a three-and-out.
Three straight completions totalling 42 yards and an 18-yard Armstrong run put the ball at the John Marshall 20. The QB was sacked on the next play, setting up Kinney for a 42-yard field goal that he drilled through the uprights for a 20-0 halftime lead.
''If I have any disappointments it's the way we start,'' Kelley said. ''The last three games we fell behind and we could have fallen behind (Friday). Defensively we've played well, but it seems like it takes about a quarter to wake up.
''The bottom line is, I really admire what (Goodrich's) doing. That is a heckuva football coach over there.
''He's taking a program and he's basically saying we're putting a system in and we're going to stick to it until we get the athletes we need. Quite frankly they do a lot of good things, they're just out-athleted right now. ''
John Marshall went three-and-out on its first series of the second half and it took Armstrong two plays to get University on the board again. He gained 12 on first down, then sprinted up the middle, split the safeties and went into the end zone from 49 yards.
Michael finished off the scoring at 6:38 of the third when he carried the football in from the 9-yard line.
''They've got some skill and their backup quarterback ran the option to perfection,'' Goodrich said. ''I can't fault their effort because they didn't quit. I feel bad for them because I thought we had a good two weeks of practice and were prepared and ready to go.
''We just didn't get it done but they're ranked where they are for a reason, and they beat Park because they're good.''
Fromhart led JM with 41 yards on 17 carries.