Marlington’s rushing game halts turnover-prone Poland
By JOSH REILLY
A heavy Marlington rushing attack, and a rough stretch which saw Poland give up 19 straight points, led to a 40-24 victory by the host Dukes on Friday night.
The Bulldogs made a late push, scoring the game’s final 14 points, but their inability to stop Marlington’s three-pronged ground attack — two running backs and a quarterback — ultimately led to their defeat.
Poland forced turnovers on the Dukes’ first two possessions — one a fumble and the other, an interception by Darius Patton, but the Bulldogs were unable to turn those takeaways into points.
Marlington punt returner Alex Williamson then made the Bulldogs pay with an 81-yard punt return touchdown. The Dukes followed with an onside-kick recovery in the air on Poland’s 40-yard line and, one play later, Duke running back Alden Hill ran in a 40-yard touchdown — the first of his three scores.
With the Bulldogs down 12-0, Jerry Lawman intercepted a pass by Marlington’s Jesse Carpenter, but Poland’s ensuing drive stalled to a fourth-and-2 play on the Dukes’ 36. Quarterback Colin Reardon was sacked to end the march.
“Looking back, that hurt us,” Poland coach Mark Brungard said. “Three turnovers, but we couldn’t put any points on the board. That’s where we lost the game.”
The Bulldogs’ deficit expanded to 19 after Hill scored on a 3-yard run before kicker Connor McFadden got the Blue and White on the board with a 20-yard field goal.
Poland’s final drive of the first half appeared to be heading toward a score with Lawman willing his way to 30 yards on seven carries. The Bulldogs had the ball on Marlington’s 2 on a third-and-1 play, but Lawman was gang-tackled in the backfield, setting the stage for a fourth-and-2 down. Brungard was forced to call on his kicking team.
Dymonte Thomas opened the scoring for Marlington in the second half, finishing out a 35-yard touchdown run. Hill later added his biggest carry — a 62-yard scamper — and helped Marlington to a comfortable 33-3 lead in the third quarter.
From that point on, the Bulldogs outscored their opponents, 21-7, thanks to the duo of Reardon and Patton. The pair connected on touchdown strikes of 42, 6 and 15 yards.
“Our guys finished strong,” Brungard said, “and that says a lot about our team. We didn’t quit. That’s something we’ll take away.”
Patton finished with nine catches for 155 yards.
Reardon was 11 of 21 for 165 yards while John Medina rushed 12 times for 94 yards.
The Dukes had 55 carries for 480 yards. Hill went for 218 yards while Thomas carried 20 times for 178.