Marietta Pioneers look for rebound win
MARIETTA — All that Roger Walker remembers about Marietta College’s 28-21 overtime setback at Capital University last year is that the Pioneer football team literally came up short at the goal line.
“You know, the game is about inches,” said the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Pioneer junior running back. “We fell an inch short last year, and ever since then, we’ve been working hard in the offseason and summertime.”
MC (2-6 overall, 2-5 Ohio Athletic Conference) is hoping to return the favor when it hosts the Crusaders (4-4, 4-3) in a Veterans Appreciation/Shrine/Senior Day home finale at Don Drumm Stadium at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“We came back in fall camp, and we always talk about that one inch,” Walker said. “That one inch really means a lot.”
Walker himself had a good game against Cap with 88 rushing yards on 20 carries and a couple of touchdowns. But on a fourth-down situation at the goal line in OT, he was stuffed by the Crusader defense.
During regulation time, Marietta had the lead in the final minute of play until Capital rallied to send it into an extra session.
“We felt like last year that we should have beat them,” recalled MC head coach Andy Waddle. “We fell an inch short. We’ve got to figure out a way to win our inches and to win our yards and score our touchdowns.”
Marietta is coming off a 45-29 loss to visiting Ohio Northern University (4-4, 4-3) this past Saturday. Offensively, the Pioneers looked sharp in the first half and went into the locker room tied at 21-all.
But after the intermission, it was pretty much all Polar Bears as they outpointed the home team, 24-8, to win going away.
Walker had his usual solid game in the backfield, rushing for a game-high 172 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns. He also had a 6-pointer on a 21-yard reception.
Currently, Walker has rushed for 100-plus yards in five straight games. If he does it again against Capital, he’ll surpass 1,000 yards on the season.
Marietta quarterback Darrien Fields added 119 yards rushing and 219 yards passing against Ohio Northern.
“Roger’s doing some great things for us right now,” said Waddle after the game. “And, obviously, Darrien Fields is doing some great things –and those aren’t the only guys.
“The guys playing around them are playing their tails off on offense. It’s been real impressive what those guys have done and what our coaching staff has been able to do to get those guys in position to make plays.”
MC frosh Billy Frauens added 11 catches for 70 yards.
On that same Saturday in central Ohio, Chad Rogosheske-coached Capital defeated Baldwin Wallace University, 42-41, in double OT. The Crusader victory halted a three-game slide.
During the contest, CU’s Connor McCloud and Nick Iske split time at the QB position, and that could be the situation against Marietta as well.
“It’ll be a challenge,” said Waddle of the upcoming Capital game. “Every week’s a challenge. But I think we’ll embrace the challenge and move forward.”