Miners top Colts
Marian’s Jared Wimmer (20) tries to get past Jayden Eubanks of Minersville. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS
Minersville took another step. Marian took an important step.
The Miners’ 25-14 Schuylkill League victory over Marian on Friday left both coaches talking about stepping in the right direction.
“This is a nice win for us,” said Minersville coach Justin Frantz. “For one thing, it gets our record to .500.
“I also saw improvement in our defense and I loved the mental toughness we showed by answering right back when Marian scored its first touchdown. Tonight, we definitely took another step in the right direction.”
For the Colts, finding something positive to build on after last week’s mercy-rule loss to Schuylkill Haven was imperative.
Marian didn’t just find something, it found several things.
The Colts (0-6) put together several nice offensive drives, played excellent run defense, and blanked Minersville in the second half.
“I think our kids matured some tonight,” said Marian coach Pat Morgans. “We played with more confidence, more consistency and fought right to the end.
“I’m never satisfied with a loss and we have to continue to get better, but I think this was a step forward for us.”
Just one week after throwing for nearly 500 yards in a loss to Schuylkill Valley, Minersville quarterback Scott Schwalm turned in another huge performance against the Colts.
The senior quarterback passed for 294 yards and accounted for all four of Minersville’s touchdowns — three of them on quarterback sneaks, and the other on a back-breaking 52-yard pass to Jared Graeff late in the first half.
Probably Schwalm’s most important stretch of play came in the second quarter right after a 24-yard TD run by Xavier Ocasio put Marian on the board and cut the Miners’ lead to 12-7.
Schwalm drove Minersville 80 yards in 14 plays, capping it with a 1-yard run that restored the Miners’ two-score lead. In the drive, Minersville converted three third downs, including a third-and-nine, and a third-and-10 as Schwalm consistently found a way to move the chains.
“We got ourselves behind the sticks a few times, but our playmakers made plays when we needed it,” said Frantz. “I thought the drive following Marian’s first touchdown was huge.
“We talk to our kids about mental toughness and overcoming adversity, and that’s what we did in that touchdown drive.”
Morgans also cited the late second quarter touchdowns by Minersville (3-3) as being crucial.
“We had two early turnovers that hurts us and allowed them to get the lead,” Morgans said. “We answered with a nice drive in the second quarter to get on the board and get some momentum.
“But they came back with a long touchdown drive and then had that huge play right before the half.”
That play was the 52-yard pass to Graeff on a third-and-15 call with 34 seconds left in the half.
Marian got the only score of the second half on an 8-yard run by Ocasio with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter. But the Colts only had one more possession and that ended on an incomplete pass in Minersville territory.
X FACTOR ... Freshman Ocasio looked good for the Colts. He finished the game with 19 carries for 96 yards and a pair of impressive TD runs where he displayed a nice burst to outrun Minerswville defenders, who seemed to have an angle on him. “Xavier works hard and is talented,” said Morgans. “We had a couple of freshmen and four or five sophomores who all played well for us. We’re young, but we showed improvement tonight.”
DRIVING ... Marian’s opening possession of the second half covered 72 yards and chewed up 9:17 before Ocasio capped it with an 8-yard TD run.
KICK START ... Marian kicker Luca Stroia not only nailed both his conversion attempts, but all three of his kickoffs were touchbacks.
BAD START ... Marian turned it over on two of its first three possessions. Minersville converted those miscues into TD drives of 15 and 38 yards to grab a quick 12-0 lead.