College football: Pioneers fall 37-16 to Spartans in football season opener

CLEVELAND – Host Case Western Reserve University scored first and never trailed en route to a 37-16 triumph over Andy Waddle-coached Marietta College Saturday night. The game was the season-opener for both schools.

Last year, MC fell 26-23 to Case at Don Drumm Stadium.

Dating back to 2011, the Pioneers have now suffered 12 consecutive setbacks on the gridiron. MC has not enjoyed a winning football campaign since 2006.

The Spartans’ Kenny Riordan capped a four-play, 58-yard drive with a five yard run to pay dirt with 4:56 left in the first quarter. A bad snap on the point after left Case with a 6-0 lead.

On its next possession Case was forced to punt from its own 23-yard line. The snap sailed over the head of punter Erik Olson and out the back of the end zone for a safety making it 6-2 with 2:19 remaining in the opening period.

That would be as close as the Pioneers would get as the Spartans scored the next 31 points, including 14 in the second quarter. Case took a 20-2 lead into halftime.

Tom Fulton relieved sophomore Axten Franzoy midway through the fourth quarter and engineered a pair of scoring drives.

Fulton completed 5-of-7 passes for 40 yards on Marietta’s first scoring drive. Fulton ran it in from three yards out for the score.Garret Butler added the point after to make it 37-9 with 6:20 left in the game.

Case Western went three-and-out on its next possession and Marietta put the ball in play from its own 36-yard line. Fulton again went to work and completed 5-of-6 passes for 46 yards. He hit Josh Llaneza for a 12-yard touchdown to complete the drive. Butler added the point after to make it 37-16 with 1:48 left on the clock.

Franzoy finished the game with nine completions in 32 attempts for 60 yards. He was picked off twice. Fulton went 10-of-13 for 91 yards and a touchdown.

Tim Conner led the Pioneer ground attack with 43 yards on 18 carries. Llaneza had six receptions for 65 yards and a score, whileKirby Harris caught five aerials for 29 yards.

Defensively, senior linebacker Jake Hammer picked up where he left off last season. Hammer, who led the Ohio Athletic Conference in tackles last fall, made 13 total stops against Case. Cody Rice added nine tackles.

The Spartan quarterback duo of Billy Beecher and Erik Olsen both played well in the opener. Beecher completed 7-of-11 passes for 115 yards, while Olson hit 7-of-9 passes for 119 yards and a touchdown. Kenny Riordan carried the ball 14 times for 51 yards and two scores, while Manny Sicre had 37 yards on seven carries, including a touchdown.

Following a week off, Marietta (0-1, 0-0) returns home to host Capital University (0-1, 0-0) in an Ohio Athletic Conference opener at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21. Capital also lost its season opener, 20-0, to visiting Thomas More (Ky.) on Saturday.

Last year, the Pioneers dropped a 13-7 decision to the Crusaders at Bernlohr Stadium in Columbus.

Notes: Former Marietta College head football coach Jeff Filkovski made his debut at the North Carolina Wesleyan College helm Friday night, and his Battling Bishops (0-1) lost a 19-9 decision at Stevenson (Md.)…In other football action involving OAC schools Saturday, Mount Union defeated Franklin 30-27, Ohio Northern blanked Alfred State 55-0; Heidelberg routed Alma 52-7; John Carroll beat Norbert 41-0; Muskingum lost to Waynesburg 21-17; Otterbein fell 28-0 to St. John Fisher; and Wilmington lost to Olivet 48-27…Baldwin-Wallace is scheduled to kick off its season opener against Bluffton this Saturday.