MOUNDSVILLE - John Marshall and Buckeye Local took turns driving the ball up and down the field during the first half of Friday night's football game at Monarch Stadium.
The only difference was the fact the Monarchs were able to hold onto the football and finish drives while the Panthers turned it over on each of their first four possessions, three in the red zone, while watching the hosts pull out to a comfortable lead.
Senior Trevor Hardesty scored three touchdowns in the first half, two following Buckeye miscues, and John Marshall built a 26-0 lead at the half before pulling away for a 52-6 victory against the Panthers on a cool night in Marshall County.
JM’s Chase Gump (5) tries to break the tackle of Buckey’s Chase Hopkins (14) on Fiday.
In all, the speedy Hardesty ran for 166 yards and five touchdowns while sophomore quarterback Noah Martin, making his first varsity start, completed all eight of his passing attempts for 86 yards and a score.
"This is nice," veteran coach Rick Goodrich said. "We got the monkey off our backs a little. Let's face it, we have not been accustomed to winning here recently, but we are going to celebrate this one and get ready for Oak Glen next week."
It didn't take long for the Monarchs to get the wheels turning after junior Cameron Fisher pounced on a loose ball on Buckeye's first play from scrimmage at the 19. It took Hardesty five runs to cover the yardage, busting in from a yard away at 9:42. The pass for 2 failed and it was 6-0.
It looked like the Panthers might get right back in it with senior quarterback Chase Hopkins leading the visitors all the way to the Monarchs 1 before their second lost fumble changed the outcome.
Following a John Marshall punt it was more of the same as Hopkins drove Buckeye to the 20 only to have sophomore Austin Skrzyneki step in front of a pass inside the 10 for the third turnover in as many possessions.
For the second time in the quarter the Monarchs converted the turnover into points. The key play on the drive was a 2-yard Martin burst on fourth-and-1 just inside Panthers territory. Hardesty's second scoring run came from 5 yards away, with the blocked PAT making it 12-0 with eight seconds to go.
Amazingly, Buckeye Local again drove all the way to the John Marshal 2 but turned the ball over on another fumble. Again, the Monarchs turned it into points, driving nearly the length of the field for Hardesty's third touchdown, this time from 2 yards out to make it 18-0.
"The key to any game is capitalizing on your opponent's mistakes," Goodrich added. "It was far from a perfect game for us, but the errors we did make are all correctable. Our line played real well, the backs ran hard and Martin did a good job managing the game. Noah really has unlimited potential."
Buckeye managed to keep possession of the ball on its fifth try, recovering its own fumble and having a potential interception dropped before punting. But it made little difference with Alex Whorton returning the kick 36 yards to the other 22.
Martin rewarded Whorton on the next play, dropping a 22-yard touchdown pass into his hands into the end zone at 3:24. Hardesty didn't get the score, but he did run the 2-point conversion in to make it 26-0. The touchdown pass was the first for Martin, and also his fifth straight completion to start the contest.
It took one play for the Monarchs to extend the lead coming back out after the half. Hardesty took a handoff to the right, burst through a hole and ran untouched 63 yards to the score 15 seconds in. Austin Litman's point-after made it 33-0.
Buckeye finally got on the board midway through the third when Hopkins found Tyler Miller streaking down the sideline from 41 yards out on a fourth-and-14 call at 7:19. The run for 2 failed and it was 33-6.
Hardesty's fifth scoring run came late in the third on a 13-yard run set up by Chase Gump's recovery of a muffed punt at the 19 that made it a 39-6 count. Alan Miller's 64-yard dash early in the fourth while Kyle Caruso raced in from 14 yards away a short time later to provide the final.