Pioneers win Shrine Trophy Game
MARIETTA — Roger Walker embraced the Shrine Trophy.
The 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back rushed for 134 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns as Marietta College defeated Muskingum University, 49-25, in Ohio Athletic Conference football action at Don Drumm Stadium Saturday.
“I love that trophy,” Walker said. “It means everything for Marietta. This rivalry goes back years and years.”
Since the Shrine Trophy Game started in 2009, MC (2-1 overall, 1-1 OAC) had only claimed it one other time.
“You know what, we got the job done, and that’s all we can ask for is a team win,” Walker said.
Walker was not the only Pioneer to excell against the Fighting Muskies (1-3, 0-3) as quarterback Darrien Fields completed 17-of-22 passes for 244 yards and three touchdowns, two to Andrew Barker and one to Maguire Morris.
“It was pretty easy today,” said Fields, who also scored on a 15-yard TD run. “Our receivers got wide open. They worked their routes really, really well. They got open and made easy targets for me.
“Those guys came out to play today, and I just had to do my part — and not mess them up.”
Defensively, Marietta College was spearheaded by Eric Klopfenstein and Garrett Davis, who recorded 10 and nine tackles, respectively. Marquese Moore returned an interception 99 yards late in the game.
“It’s always fun when we’re playing football,” said Davis, a former Marietta Tiger.
Some of Davis’s tackles were against ex-Tiger teammate Bernard Johnson, who led the Muskies with three first-half touchdowns.
“It was fun, friendly competition,” Davis said. “Every week’s different. We knew who he was. We prepared. And, adjustments at halftime helped clean it up.”
After MC went three-and-out on its first offensive possession, Muskingum got good field position, and eventually scored on QB Brody Hahn’s three-yard run to paydirt. The Pioneers blocked the extra-point kick.
Marietta answered that with a scoring drive of its own, and tied it 6-6 when Fields hit Barker with a 30-yard TD strike. Jimmy Embrescia followed with the PAT, and the navy blue and white led by a point.
The Muskies regained the advantage, 12-6, when Hahn passed 24 yards to Johnson. Again, the Pioneers blocked the PAT.
On the ensuing kickoff return, former Caldwell star Tanner Clark returned it 66 yards to the MU 25. On the first play from scrimmage, Walker raced 25 yards to paydirt, and Embrescia split the uprights to give the Pioneers a 14-12 lead.
Early in the second quarter, Marietta, after recovering a Muskie fumble, stretched its advantage to 21-12 on Fields’ 15-yard run to the end zone.
Muskingum, though, came right back with a scoring drive, capped by Johnson’s five-yard TD run. Austin Alice’s kick cut it to 21-19.
Back and forth, the two OAC schools went as Marietta responded with a 48-yard TD catch and run by Morris, making it 28-19.
Muskingum answered with Johnson, who scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with 2:44 left in the quarter.
At halftime, Marietta led 28-25.
Amazingly, after the first-half fireworks, there was no scoring by either side in the third quarter as the defenses stiffened.
But early in the fourth, with Walker doing the bulk of the running and Barker the receiving, MC stretched its lead to 35-25, thanks to Walker’s short run to the end zone.
Later, Barker hauled in a 28-yard scoring pass from Fields to make it 42-25. Barker finished the contest with four receptions for 101 yards.
Then, with three minutes left in the game, Moore had a pick-6 of 99 yards to cap all the scoring in the game.