Pios look to rebound vs. Muskies

Photo by Nate Knobel Marietta College’s Andrew Barker goes up to catch a pass during a college football game against Mount Union last Saturday at Don Drumm Stadium.

Marietta College took it on the chin in its Ohio Athletic Conference opener last Saturday at Don Drumm Stadium, dropping a 69-3 decision to the University of Mount Union, the No. 2 team in NCAA Division III football.

But then, very few OAC schools have given the Purple Raiders (2-0 overall, 1-0 OAC) a game on the gridiron over the years.

MC has not topped the Mount since 1977, or seven U.S. Presidents ago.

All the Pioneers (1-1, 0-1) can do is move forward and focus on visiting Muskingum University (1-2, 0-2) in this upcoming Saturday’s annual Shrine game, which is scheduled to kick off at 1:30 p.m. The Fighting Muskies lead the Shriner series, 7-1.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to go back out and get this one (Mount Union game) behind us,” said fifth-year Marietta head coach Andy Waddle. “We typically match up similar to Muskingum.”

Last year, the Pioneers dropped a 28-10 decision to the Al Logan-coached Fighting Muskies at The Edgar A. Sherman Field in McConagha Stadium in New Concord.

“It’s been a rivalry game,” Waddle said. “The scores have been close. Two years ago, we beat them at home.”

In 2015, MC defeated Muskingum, 49-28.

If Marietta is going to hook the Muskies again, it’s going to have to limit the turnovers. The Pioneers had four passes picked off, two for touchdowns, and coughed up two fumbles against the Raiders.

“The game got away from us a little bit,” Waddle said. “That’ll happen. We didn’t want to throw in the flag but when you have as many turnovers as we did…you do that against a bad football team and you’re going to have a hard time, let alone against a quality opponent like Mount Union.”

Darrien Fields is expected to be the center snapper for the Pioneers against Muskingum.

At running back, look for tri-captain Roger Walker and Tanner Clark to do the bulk of the ballcarrying, and at wide receiver, the primary targets will probably be Ryan VanMeter and Andrew Barker.

Tri-cap Garrett Davis and Nick O’Neal are MC’s top hitmen on defense.

And, Jimmy Embrescia, who scored the Pioneers only points versus Mount, will be the place-kicker on PATs and field goals.

Since blanking Waynesburg, 19-0, in its season and home opener, Muskingum has dropped two straight OAC games to Otterbein (3-0, 2-0) and Capital (1-1, 1-0), respectively.

Freshman quarterback Brody Hahn is expected to be the signal caller for Muskingum.

Bernard Johnson, a former Marietta Tiger, is one of the Muskies’ running backs. Against Capital, he rushed for a career-high 131 yards on 17 carries and two TDs.

Damon Jones is one of Muskingum’s top pass receivers. Against the Crusaders, he had three receptions for 81 yards and one 6-pointer.

Senior defensive end Chris Weck was the OAC’s Defensive Player of the Week after the Waynesburg win.

NOTE: With former Tiger teammates Davis (Marietta’s top tackler) and Johnson (Muskingum’s top rusher) going head-to-head Saturday, Marietta College is offering free admission to anyone who wears Marietta High football gear and tells the gate they are there to support Johnson and/or Davis. Plus, the MHS Marquettes will be performing at halftime.