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Marietta College’s football defense again rises to the occasion

COLUMBUS — Marietta College got another strong performance from its defense as the Pioneers defeated Capital University by the score of 44-7 Saturday evening in the Ohio Athletic Conference opener for both schools. Marietta improves to 2-0 overall, while the Crusaders fall to 0-2 on the season.

“I’m proud of the effort from our team. It was good to see our guys be able to go into halftime and handle some adjustments and then go out in the second half and execute,” Marietta head coach Andy Waddle said. “We started four sophomores and one freshman on the offensive line and I thought they did a nice job in the second half.”

Neither team’s offense moved the ball consistently in the first half. The Pioneers got on the board midway through the second quarter when Kyle McSweeney connected with Andrew Barker on a 26-yard scoring strike. Jacob Griffin added the point after and that would be all of the scoring in the first half.

All-American running back Tanner Clark scored a pair of rushing touchdowns in the third quarter extending the Pioneer lead to 21-0. He dove in from 1-yard out and then scored on a 17-yard run.

Clark finished with 107 yards rushing on 18 carries. Justin Bell got the start at running back and ran for 61 yards on 12 carries.

Capital changed quarterbacks and scored their lone touchdown of the game to cut the lead to 21-7 with 2:47 left in the third quarter. David Barnett made a nice diving catch on a 19-yard pass from Andrew Ray for the score.

After that, it was all Marietta. McSweeney connected with Barker on another 26-yard touchdown and then he hooked up with tight end Bobby Cashaw on his third 26-yard touchdown pass of the night.

McSweeney completed 13-of-21 passes for 164 yards and three touchdowns. He was picked off once. Cashaw had three catches for 37 yards, while Ryan VanMeter had three receptions for 28 yards.

The Pioneer defense accounted for Marietta’s final 10 points. Defensive lineman Kyle Gallagher picked off a pass that set up Logan Alward for a 29-yard field goal. On Capital’s next possession, Darius Hatch intercepted Ray and returned it 31-yards for a touchdown.

“I thought our defense played really well tonight,” Gallagher said. “We’re young but very fast on defense and I think we are coming together as a unit.”

Marietta returns home to host Muskingum University at 7 p.m. next Saturday. There will be a free pregame concert featuring the band Aftershock and fireworks following the game.

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