INDIANAPOLIS - A fast start is what head coach Ted Karras believed the Marian College football team needed to pull out a victory on Saturday afternoon.
That is exactly what he received as the Knights earned a 28-14 victory
of William Penn University at George C. Grosskopf Stadium at Pike High
School. The victory pulls the Knights to .500 on the season at 1-1.
After William Penn won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, the offense went to work.
Junior quarterback Matt Rogers (Trafalgar, Indiana/Indian Creek)
led the Knights on an 11-play, 64-yard drive that culminated in a 14-yard touchdown run by junior running back Joey Nebereiza (Indianapolis/North Central)
. That drive devoured more than five minutes off the clock and staked the Knights a 7-0 lead.
After a WPU first down, the Knights shut down the Statesmen offense and got the ball back at their own 20-yard line. Rogers led the Knights on an 11-play, 80-yard march down the field that was capped by a 15-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to redshirt sophomore Justin Hall (Terre Haute, Indiana/North)
.The Knights held the ball for 10:20 of the 15 minutes in the first frame and carried a 14-0 lead to the second quarter.
The Statesmen drove to the Knights' 34-yard line, but a penalty and a pair of incomplete passes forced WPU to punt giving the Knights one final shot at the end zone in the first quarter.
Starting at their own 15-yard line, the Knights chewed up more than four minutes on a 12-play, 85-yard drive that was capped off by a 29-yard touchdown run on a reverse to redshirt sophomore JaQuan Patilla (Fairfield, Ohio/Fairfield)
.The Knights had a 21-0 lead and the defense was holding firm.
The next two drives for the Statesmen ended at the WPU 40-yard line and Marian College 44-yard line, respectively. Alongside the defense, the offense was extremely productive as the Knights nearly had a 28-0 lead heading into halftime.
With one minute remaining in the half, the Knights started at their own 14-yard line and drove to the WPU 29-yard line with just seconds remaining. The drive ended with an interception in the end zone, but the Knights had posted at 57-yard drive in just under a minute and were left just short of the goal line.
The Knights took the 21-0 lead into the locker room at halftime and had allowed William Penn to gain just 82 yards of total offense while pulling in 258 total yards themselves.
Neither team could string a scoring drive together until the Knights' nine-play, 65-yard drive resulted in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Rogers to freshman Julian Williams (Richton Park, Illinois/Marian Catholic)
with 11:34 remaining in the final quarter. The Knights had a 28-0 lead for the first time in their short history. However, the Statesmen were not about to give in without a fight.
A 68-yard completion was the highlight of a five-play, 76-yard drive that started the Statesmen on the road to a comeback and made the score, 28-7. An interception in the end zone led to a nine-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 17-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 28-14 with 4:56 to play. But, it was too little, too late for the Statesmen.
The Knights drove the ball to the WPU 30-yard line and turned it over on downs with 2:37 remaining in the game. However, a huge sack by freshman Adam Vondersaar (Bainbridge, Indiana/North Putnam)
and sophomore Brock Caraboa (Plainfield, Indiana/Plainfield)
pushed WPU to a fourth-and-25 situation and the 19-yard pass for WPU on fourth down was not enough. The Knights were able to kneel on the ball with just 58 seconds remaining and earn the 28-14 victory.
The win was the second in the history of the program and exacted some revenge on the Statesmen for the 30-15 defeat to open the history of Marian College football. The Knights also shattered their record for total offense as they raked in 397 total yards with 212 coming on the ground.
Rogers had a career day as he went 14-for-24 with 185 passing yards and two touchdowns. Nebereiza led the Knights with 10 carries for 66 yards and one touchdown.
The Knights head out on a tough road swing as they travel to Lebanon, Illinois, on Saturday for a meeting with No. 25-ranked McKendree University at Leemon Field.
Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. (EDT) with the game being broadcast LIVE on Freedom 95.9 FM (WFDM) beginning at 7:45 p.m. (EDT). David Pierce (p-b-p) and former University of Notre Dame standout Jeff Burris (color) will call all the action.