Pioneers visit Ohio Northern looking for 3rd straight win
Marietta College will be seeking its third straight Ohio Athletic Conference victory when it visits Ohio Northern University at Dial-Roberson Stadium in Ada at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
It’s been awhile since that’s occurred, but then the Pioneers (4-3 overall, 3-3 OAC) are feeling pretty good about themselves after upsetting nationally-ranked Heidelberg University, 44-21, last Saturday in a homecoming game at Don Drumm Stadium.
“If you look at the rest of our schedule, they’re a lot of good football teams, and we’re going to take it one game at a time,” said fourth-year MC head football coach Andy Waddle. “Haven’t looked at Ohio Northern yet but I know our guys will prepare to win. They believe they can win.”
Pioneer running back Roger Walker agreed and added, “We’re just going to have to come out like we did (against Heidelberg). We’ve got to come out prepared, stay sharp and focused — and help each other out and go out there and get the win.”
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Walker rushed for a game-high 189 yards on 29 carries and four touchdowns against The Student Princes (5-2, 4-2), who were No. 24 in the D3Football.com Top 25 poll, going into the contest.
“We’ve got to be able to run the football, and there’s no better guy to hand it off to than to No. 1 (Walker),” Waddle said.
Thing is, Marietta is far from one-dimensional on offense. Quarterback Darrien Fields completed 16-of-29 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns against HU.
“Darrien’s had a great season,” Waddle said. “He maybe goes unnoticed, because there are so many great quarterbacks in the league and Darrien’s one of them. He doesn’t take a backseat to anybody, and that’s what type of competitor he is.
“I don’t know if he took it as a personal mission to come out and have a better day against their quarterback (Tyler Stoyle) or whatnot. But obviously, he was tremendous. We played a great quarterback today, but Darrien was better today. Maybe Darrien doesn’t get the credit he deserves.”
When Fields drops back in the pocket to throw, he has plethora of targets to look for in the defensive secondary. Against the Berg, he hit both Ryan VanMeter and Andrew Barker with scoring strikes.
VanMeter finished with five catches for 141 yards.
“Ryan has great hands, is a grinder, and pays attention to detail,” Waddle said. “You can be successful with those type of guys. I’m sure there are guys on the other team who run faster or whatever, but you’re going to win football games with Ryan VanMeter. The kid’s a winner.”
Defensively, Marietta may have played its best of the season against Heidelberg. After the Student Princes scored first, they didn’t get on the scoreboard again until the fourth quarter when the outcome was pretty much decided in MC’s favor.
“The defense finally showed up against a good offense, too,” Waddle said. “The guys made plays. It was pretty awesome.”
But don’t look for the Pioneer “D” to rest on it laurels.
“With this (Heidelberg) game over, it’s all Ohio Northern now,” said Marietta outside linebacker Garrett Davis, who had a team-high eight tackles versus HU.
Ohio Northern (5-2, 4-2) figures to be no pushover, especially on its home field. Last year at Don Drumm, it beat MC, 45-29.
The Polar Bears struggled, though, in a 7-6 triumph at Muskingum University last Saturday. The visitors from Ada turned the ball over five times and still won. They were also fortunate that the Muskies missed a chip-shot field goal attempt with 24 seconds remaining in the game.
ONU is expected to be quarterbacked by Will Freed, who passed for 188 yards against the Fighting Muskies.
Marietta’s defense will probably be keying on Polar Bear running back Christiaan Williams, who earlier this season against Capital University, rushed for a school-record 407 yards. Against Muskingum, he only gained 168 stripes on 38 totes.