Behind Roger Walker, Pioneers defeat ONU for third straight win

ADA — Michael Quealy knocked down a Polar Bear pass on fourth down at the Marietta 7-yard line with three seconds left in the game as the Pioneers defeated Ohio Northern 35-28 Saturday afternoon.

The win was Marietta’s third straight as the Pioneers improved to 5-3 overall and 4-3 in the Ohio Athletic Conference. The five wins are the most for Marietta since going 6-4 in 2006, which is also the season Marietta won three games in a row.

“This is a special day for all of the people involved with this program. From our current players and coaches to our alumni,” Marietta head coach Andy Waddle said. “We made a few mistakes, but the guys stuck together and never lost sight of our goal. This was a big road win.”

Marietta scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter turning a 28-21 deficit into the 35-28 victory. All-American running back Roger Walker was virtually unstoppable in the final period scoring two of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter.

Walker ran it in from five yards out to cap a 13-play drive that tied the game, 28-28, with 3:59 left on the clock. Walker carried the ball eight times gaining 37 of the 48 yards on the drive.

The Pioneer defense forced Ohio Northern to punt on the ensuing possession and Marietta took over on its own 31-yard line with 2:04 remaining. Quarterback Darrien Fields rushed for three yards on first down moving the ball to the 34-yard line. On second down Fields handed the ball to Walker and the senior broke loose for a 66-yard touchdown and a seven point MC lead.

Walker finished with 264 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 36 carries, all season highs. As a team, the Pioneers ran the ball 56 times for 336 yards.

Tanner Clark carried the ball nine times for 40, while Fields had 10 carries for 33 yards. Fields completed 11-of-18 passes for 90 yards and one touchdown.

“Roger Walker and the offensive line were awesome all game,” Waddle said. “We were facing the third leading rusher in the country in Christiaan Williams and I think our guys had something to prove today.”

After a 21-yard kick return, Ohio Northern put the ball in play at its own 27-yard line with 1:16 left in the game. The Polar Bears moved to the Pioneer 16-yard line but a personal foul left them first and 25 at the Marietta 31-yard line.

On third down, ONU quarterback Will Freed completed a pass to Malachi Nolletti down to the seven, four yards short of a first down. Following a Polar Bear time out, Freed dropped back to pass and tried to connect with Chad Rex, who had two touchdown catches earlier in the game, but Quealy knocked the ball down to secure the Pioneer win.

Freed completed 17-of-32 passes for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Rex for touchdowns of 15 and 33 yards and connected with Nolletti on a 12-yard scoring strike. Fields was picked off twice.

Ohio Northern’s other touchdown came on a blocked punt. David Haseleu scooped up the block and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.

Marietta limited Williams to 66 yards rushing on 17 carries. Freed gained 42 yards rushing on six carries.

Jake Tracewellled the Pioneer defense with 10 tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage. Tay Pryor and Garrett Davis each had one interception.

Marietta travels to Capital University next Saturday. Kickoff against the Crusaders is set for 1:30 p.m.