A week three match-up with the only team in the Ohio Athletic Conference that has never beaten John Carroll could not have come at a better time. John Carroll entered Saturday night’s contest against Marietta 22-0-1 all time. After 60 minutes of pure offense (907 yards and 10 touchdowns), the Blue Streaks squeaked out their first win of the season, 37-35.
John Carroll (1-2, 1-1 OAC) ran for 363 yards on the ground, their best rushing effort since Nov. 6, 1993 when they totaled 390 yards against Hiram.
Junior Casey Vogl had something of a coming out party – 17 carries for 145 yards and the first four touchdowns of his collegiate career (one shy of a JCU record). Marietta’s (1-2, 0-2 OAC) quarterback Andrew Keller also put together a career night, completing 24-40 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns. Marietta wide receivers Chad Walker, Tannon Roberts and Kirby Harris all finished the game with 125+ yards receiving.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game came in the first quarter. John Carroll’s punter Mike Malisheski booted a 57-yarder that went out of bounds inside the one-yard line. On the first play from scrimmage, Michael Green broke through the offensive line and stopped Marietta’s Tevin Dones in the end zone for a safety. That made it 7-2 Pioneers, after Marietta went 80 yards in 11 plays to start the game with a touchdown. When the Blue Streaks offense got the ball back after the safety, Casey Vogl punched in his first career score from two yards out.
“I have to admit, I was pretty nervous at first,” said Vogl. “DaQuan [Grobsmith] is a great player and it’s too bad he went down again, but Sean Kuenzig and I knew we had to fill that role on offense tonight to give this team a lift.” Vogl cashed in from four yards out just before the half to give his team a 16-7 lead, but Marietta would go 67 yards in two plays to force the 16-14 score at the break.
The Blue Streaks linemen dominated the trenches on both sides of the football all night long. JCU only attempted one pass the whole second half because the running game was so effective. Offensive lineman Bob Schmitz and Mike Micca were huge contributors to the offensive success.
“It was definitely encouraging to see our running game get going like that,” said Schmitz. “We said before the game that we were going to put the team on our back today and have a game that can set the tone for the rest of the year,” said Micca.
The two squads traded touchdowns in the first three possessions of the second half. John Carroll’s defense finally forced a punt early in the fourth quarter, leading 30-21. Lane Robilotto returned the punt nearly 80 yards for the score, but the TD was called back on an illegal block. Two plays later, Vogl busted through the line and housed a 7-yard run to put the Streaks up 37-21.
Dones punched it in from a yard out with just over 10 minutes to go, and the two-point conversion made it a one-possession contest. The Blue Streaks ran the clock, but missed a field goal and gave the ball back to Marietta with 3:31 to play. Two minutes later, Keller connected with Walker for a 26-yard touchdown strike to make the score 37-35. The Blue and Gold defense refuted the two-point try and recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory.
The Blue Streaks’ next game will take place at Don Shula Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. as JCU plays host to the visiting Otterbein Cardinals for JCU’s 2011 Homecoming game.