College football: Pioneers stung by Yellow Jackets 31-7

There were nearly 130 plays from scrimmage in Saturday afternoon’s Shriners Day, Ohio Athletic Conference battle between Marietta College and visiting Baldwin-Wallace at Don Drumm Stadium.

Unfortunately for the Pioneers, three of those plays proved quite costly as they dropped a 31-7 decision to the heavily favored Yellow Jackets in a game that was tied up with just 15 seconds to play in the first half.

A pair of first-half penalties nullified long touchdown passes from Pioneer quarterback Tom Fulton to senior wide receiver Kirby Harris and Baldwin Wallace’s Dan O’Brien return of an interception 43 yards for a touchdown with just 15 seconds on the clock in the opening half spelled doom for the Pioneers who were bidding to win their second straight game after breaking a 17-game losing streak last with a win against Wilmington.

“We were hurt today by penalties both offensively and defensively,” said first-year Pioneer head coach Andy Waddle. “We continue to put ourselves in tough situations and if you are a successful football team you just don’t do those things.”

For 29 minutes and change in the first half, the Pioneers matched the heavy weight Jackets blow for blow.

B-W quarterback Kyle Ohradanzky opened the scoring with an 11-yard touchdown run to cap a 71-yard, 13-play drive, but the Pioneers quickly answered as they drove 73 yards on 14-plays with junior running back Tim Conner scoring from four yards out to tie the game at 7-7.

Conner’s score came just minutes after Harris grabbed a quick out pass from Fulton and raced 56-yards for what appeared to be a touchdown only to be called back because of a late block in the back penalty against the Pioneers.

The penalty bug would bite the Pios once again in the second quarter when Fulton connected with Harris on a 75-yard pass for a potential score only to be brought back again, this time on a blocking below the waist penalty against MC.

Late in the first half the Yellow Jackets got a break when Fulton’s pass was intercepted by safety Jerry Scholle and returned to the Pioneer 17-yard line.

The Pioneer defense arose to the occasion as defensive end Franklin Holmes sacked Ohradanzky forcing a fumble that was recovered by Daryl DeWindt and returned all the way to the Pioneer 45-yard line with just over 30 seconds to play in the opening half.

The excitement caused from the turnover was short- lived, however, as O’Brien jumped the route of a short pass from Fulton in the direction of Roger Bush and Josh Llaneza and raced 45 yards for a pick six and a 14-7 Baldwin Wallace lead at halftime.

Marietta College made yet another mental error to open the second half as it misplayed the opening kickoff of the third quarter giving the offense shaky field position inside its own 5-yard line.

The Pioneers were able to get the ball out of danger and former Warren Warrior Chas Miller’s punt backed the Jackets up to their own 14-yard line for their first second half possession.

Baldwin-Wallace marched right down the field as it drove 86-yards in just seven plays with Issac Reed III scoring on a 13-yard run with six minutes to play in the third to increase the lead to 21-7.

The Pioneers were once again able to establish the running game in the opening half but struggled to do so in the second against the tough Baldwin-Wallace defense.

The Yellow Jackets increased their lead to 24-7 on a 35-yard field goal by Chris Mohler and finished the scoring with Reed’s second touchdown of the second half with just under 10 minutes to play.

Reed III gained a game-high 101 yards on 15 carries in the game as Baldwin- Wallace gained 255 of its 313 total yards on the ground.

Marietta College was led by Conner’s 71 yards on 21 carries while Bush tallied 64 yards on 14 touches.

Baldwin-Wallace improved to 6-2 and 5-2 in conference play while the Pioneers slipped to 1-7 overall and 1-6 in the OAC.

Waddle would like nothing more than to grab a pair of road wins as the Pioneers visit Otterbein and Muskingum to close out the 2013 campaign.

“I feel like we’ve gotten a little bit better as the year has progressed, we just have to continue to work,” said Waddle. “We’re not going to back down from anybody in this league.”

NOTES: The Pioneers honored their seniors in a ceremony prior to the game…. Baldwin Wallace leads the all-time series 31-5 in a rivalry that began back in 1974…. Yellow Jacket 12th year head coach John Snell has been head coach longer than any other coach currently coaching in the OAC….. The loss was the seventh in a row by the Pioneers against Baldwin Wallace…..Harris appeared to suffer a leg injury in the second half but still manged to catch four passes in the game for a game high 85 yards in his final game at Don Drumm Stadium.