Buckeye Local gets past John Marshall

It was just a matter of time before Buckeye Local’s Austin Marshall showcased 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 six, Marshall sparked the Panthers to a 20-6 win over the Monarchs at Memorial Stadium Friday night.

Coach Phil Pest’s Panthers, back in action on Saturday with a 12:30 p.m. tilt at Bellaire, followed a season opening loss at Utica and a win in the home opener last week against Westinghouse with Friday night’s big win. Buckeye now owns a 2-1 record.

First-year coach Rick Goodrich saw his club fall to 0-3 on the season. The much-improved John Marshall squad will be in action again on Friday hosting Oak Glen at Monarch Stadium.

“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 after the win. “We did just that and things worked out well.

“When we had that long touchdown called back, they started to bounce back,” Pest added. “They fought back. They are a much better team than they have been. This certainly wasn’t an easy win. He has done a good job there so far.

“Marshall had a great game for us,” Pest added. “He ran the ball well and made some very big plays. Nathan Kirk ran the offense very well and our defense gave up just six points for the second straight week.”

“Christian Hopkins punted very well and put them in the hole a few times. That helps us a great deal. We’re still making some mistakes. We can’t give up yards and we can’t have dumb penalties. We’re not good enough for that yet.”

“I knew our secondary would be much better this year. We have a lot of people back. Our defense is getting better, we just have to figure out how to slow Bellaire down next week.”

Buckeye brought the fans to their feet early with an electrifying 53-yard kickoff return by senior speedster Austin Marshall. Marshall took the kick at his own 14, broke clean through the middle and reached the Monarch 33 before being stopped.

With good field position, the Panthers needed just four plays to get on the board. Marshall ran off the right side for eight before the speedy Andy Stock broke off the left side for 24 yards to the one. 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 endzone from 13 yards out with 4:18 showing on the board.

In the second frame, Buckeye had what would have been a 74-yard scoring pass from Kirk to Duncan.

John Marshall got on the board in the second with a well-engineered 60-yard drive hat featured 10 rushes including a 15-yarder by Jacob Woods that set up Jeremiah Fromhart’s one-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 Panther 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, who 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 endzone. 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 after the tough loss. “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,” the JM coach added.