It is often said that offense puts people in the seats, but defense wins championships.
While the high-scoring offense may have been the reason the crowd of 2,348 showed up, the defense was the main reason the home fans left Shula Stadium happy.
On their first possession of the second quarter, Muskingum was pinned back at its own five-yard line.
The defense came up big and managed to push the Muskies offense backward and forced a three-and-out. A twenty-one yard punt would give the Blue Streaks the ball at the Muskingum 31-yard line.
John Carroll University’s offense capitalized on the short field to get on the scoreboard first.
Junior quarterback Mark Petruziello went to the air on the first play of the drive and connected with fellow junior Michael DiCillo for a gain of 17 yards. Three straight rushes for negative yards put the ball at the 21-yard line. From there, senior placekicker Josiah Kedzior nailed a 38-yard field goal to put the Blue Streaks up 3-0.
On the ensuing possession, Muskingum’s offense got rolling until junior linebacker Matt McDonald came up with a big interception and return of 31 yards to the Muskingum 36 yard-line.
Pertruziello and the offense would need just three plays to strike from there. The three-play drive, which took just 44 seconds, was capped off when junior running back Tyler Gingrich plunged in from two yards out for the game’s first touchdown to extend the Blue Streaks lead. Kedzior’s extra point made the score 10-0.
The Blue Streaks defense came up huge late in the third quarter when junior Ken Bevington stopped Muskie quarterback Andre Nash’s rushing attempt on fourth down. The defense yet again gave the ball to their offense with good field possession.
The offense would piece together a seven-play drive to move the ball 44 yards closer for Kedzior. The junior placekicker connected on his second field goal of the game, this time from 32 yards out to close out the third quarter scoring.
JCU led 13-0 entering the final period and, as good teams often do, the Blue Streaks quickly put away their opponent and erased any thoughts of a comeback.
Looking to put the game out of reach, Pertuziello turned to sophomore wide receiver Scottie Williams. The duo of Petruziello and Williams connected on passes of 29 and 24 yards to move the ball all the way to the Muskingum 12-yard line. Petruziello would then find sophomore Frank Ross on a 12 yard pass for a touchdown to cap off the drive. Kedzior again converted on the extra point, opening the gap to 20-0.
Following a Muskie punt and a return to mid-field, Petruziello led the Streaks on a touchdown drive that put the game out of reach. Petruziello used his legs and arm to advance the ball to the Muskingum 18-yard line. On first down from the 18, Petruziello threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this time to junior Peter Spachner, to close out the JCU scoring.
It was not until 5:55 left in the game that Muskingum finally got on the board. Muskingum scored after being the beneficiary of a fumble and personal foul that placed the ball on the JCU 20-yard line.
The defense was terrific all afternoon. Junior linebacker Mike Nettling lead the group with 11 total tackles, while senior Nadhal Eadeh and Bevington each chipped in with seven tackles of their own. Eadeh also managed to record both JCU sacks for on the afternoon.
With the win, the Blue Streaks improved their record to 5-2, 4-2 in OAC league play. Coach Scafe and crew now turn their attention to knocking off Wilmington on the road next Saturday before returning home to battle number one ranked Mount Union the following week.