Tigers block kick, beat Zanesville

Marietta’s Dominic Vanfossen (24) carries the ball as Zanesville’s Jonathan Lee (10) tries to bring him down during a high school football game Friday night at Don Drumm Stadium. Marietta won, 17-14. TOM PERRY The Marietta Times

Dominic Vanfossen couldn’t stop crying. He couldn’t stop hugging his teammates and coaches either as the Marietta Tiger football season came to an end.

The senior running back wasn’t alone, though, as emotions were running high after Marietta rallied for a 17-14 victory over Zanesville Friday night at Don Drumm Stadium.

“It was a very emotional game, and it was important for us to get this fifth victory and finish .500 again,” Vanfossen said. “Marietta has been 5-5 three straight seasons. That may not sound like a big deal, but it is for this program.”

Probably the biggest accomplishment of the night, though, was finally getting a victory in the East Central Ohio Scarlet Division – something Marietta had not done since joining the conference in 2011.

“Let me tell you, I feel so much better knowing we finally have a win in the ECOL,” said Marietta coach Jason Schob. “We’ve been talking about it all year with the kids. This senior group is the one that I started with when they were freshmen. For the seniors, we couldn’t have drawn up a better finish than this.”

He’s not kidding.

The Tigers controlled the game for nearly three quarters and led 10-0 at halftime, but Zanesville rallied for two touchdowns – both passes from Ben Everson to Blayze Taylor – in the fourth quarter to take a 14-10 lead with 5:49 to play.

In the past, Schob said, Marietta had typically folded in these situations and couldn’t find a way to get the win. Not this time.

The Tigers fed the ball to Vanfossen seven times for 30 yards, including a 5-yard touchdown run with 1:21 to play. He finished with 154 yards on 40 carries, including a 39-yard scoring run in the second quarter.

“I told the coaches before the game, that (Dominic) has had a great career and we’re going to give him the ball a lot to show how much we appreciate it,” Schob said. “I am happy for him and all of the seniors.”

On the possession before, the Tigers were controlling the ball and running the clock when Vanfossen fumbled on a low pitch from Corbin Alkire. Three plays later Zanesville took the lead on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Everson to Taylor.

“I knew I messed up when I fumbled,” Vanfossen said. “I needed to bounce back and help my team.”

Vanfossen wouldn’t have gotten the chance to get the win if not for a clutch 28-yard pass from Everson to senior Jermaine Burke on fourth-and-7.

But Marietta still needed some last-second magic to hold on for the win.

With 1:15 left in the game, the Blue Devils (3-7) turned to Everson. He connected on 6 of 9 passes for 37 yards and drove Zanesville to the Marietta 10 with 4.5 seconds to play. Zanesville was hoping to take the game into overtime, but Marietta junior Cory Warrener darted up the middle and blocked Gabe Dolen’s attempt to seal the win.

“This is a team win,” Warrener said. “When you put in the work, and everyone does what they are supposed to do, you can block a kick and get the win. To get that first league win is huge.”

If the Tigers had capitalized on a few opportunities in the first half, the game would have likely never been close.

Marietta took the opening kickoff and went on a 12-play, 72-yard drive that was capped by a 25-yard field goal by John Mannix. Late in the first quarter, Marietta started at the Zanesville 25-yard line after stuffing Julius Murphy for a 6-yard loss on a fake punt.

While Marietta ran eight plays for just 17 yards, Alkire was intercepted in the end zone by Donovan Stewart.

After taking a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, Marietta got the ball back after one play when Cyrus Rhodes recovered a Jerimiah Norman fumble at the Marietta 42. The Tigers drove the ball to the Zanesville 33 but turned it over on downs.

“I hope the younger guys learn from this game,” Vanfossen said. “I hope they watched and learned how hard we worked, that we can play with good teams and that anything is possible. I believe Marietta football is on the rise.”