Updated Sun, Oct 6, 2013 3:35 pm
Exactly one week after surrendering 84 points to No. 1 Mount Union, the Marietta Pioneers were handed the task of overcoming another nationally-ranked program in No. 10 Heidelberg. The Student Princes sprinted out of the gates, piling on 55 points in the first half and ultimately securing a 68-17 victory over Marietta.
Unlike the Mount Union contest, the Pioneers never really found their offensive rhythm. Marietta provided the first score of last week’s game, but found itself down by 34 points against Heidelberg before tallying its first score. The Pioneers finished with 268 total yards, most of which came through the running game.
Running back Tim Conner continued to prove himself as Marietta’s go-to option in the backfield, accumulating 105 yards on 23 carries. Conner was unable to find the end zone, but consistent rushes allowed the Pioneer offense to move the chains in attempts to formulate some kind of offense.
Heidelberg’s Cartel Brooks recorded most of his production in the first half, but his 134 total yards are the most that the Pioneers have given up to a single rusher so far in the 2013 season. Along with Brooks, Marietta allowed three other Heidelberg rushers to accumulate more than 50 yards, including quarterback Michael Mees who totaled 70 yards rushing.
Mees, also playing in only the first half, appeared Peyton Manning-esque in his 30 minutes of play. Mees completed on 13 of 16 attempts for 180 yards and five touchdowns without throwing an interception. His second half replacement Jon Sandwisch wouldn’t get as many chances to throw, but finished out the game by completing on three of six passes for 88 yards including an interception and a touchdown.
Tom Fulton started the game at quarterback for the Pioneers, continuing to squelch any competition between he and backup Axten Franzoy. Fulton ranked fifth among OAC quarterbacks in yards per game before the start of Saturday night’s game, but fell one spot to sixth after recording just 85 yards through the air. His sub-100-yard performance is his second of the year. Franzoy was substituted into the game, but failed complete a pass, providing little argument that he should permanently replace Fulton as the starter.
Marietta’s offensive struggle appears to become even more difficult next week, as the Pioneers welcome the No. 23 John Carroll Blue Streaks. The Blue Streaks have allowed only seven points in their first four games combined, posting three shutouts in the process. John Carroll is 4-0 and 3-0 in the OAC with wins against Baldwin Wallace and Otterbein, both of which are conference title contenders.
The Pioneers and the Blue Streaks kick off from Marietta next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. while Heidelberg returns home for a contest with the 1-3 Capital Crusaders, looking to win and keep pace with Mount Union atop the conference standings.