Being able to overcome adversity often is the determining factor in football wins vs. losses.
Fortunately, for the Shenandoah Blue Devils, they were able to snap out of a slow start Friday night at the Men of Marian Stadium, where they ran and passed the ball effectively in a 30-point second quarter that resulted in a 36-14 win for the visitors.
On the other hand, Coach Stan Dakosty's Colts, mired in a season-long quagmire triggered by injuries and miscues, continue to play well enough only sporadically, yet poorly enough too frequently, resulting in their seventh loss in eight games.
The Colts actually led 7-6 at the 9:36 mark of the second stanza, after the two teams exchanged early second peiod touchdowns, a PAT by Colt Paul Martin being the difference up until that point. Despite the deficit, and although having been stopped through the first quarter on three fourth-down tries, Shenandoah managed to rise above the slow start, proceeding to score three times in the next 4-1/2 minutes.
"In a four minute span, we gave up 24 points. That's the third or fourth time we did that this year," said Dakosty, noting "missed assignments are things you can't do against a good team like Shenandoah."
Actually, the Colts looked much better than their record had indicated, as both teams went scoreless through the first 12 minutes."We got out of the gates a little slow. It took awhile for us to get some rhythm," said Shenandoah coach Nick Sajone. "Marian's not as bad a team as its record indicates, and they're well-coached, so it was a little bit of a challenge for us early."
The Colts responded nicely, thanks, in part, to a 43-yard run by fullback Derich Holman. The run moved the ball to the Devil 22. Two plays later, tailback Paul Martin took a handoff from Corey Quick, stopped and threw a 20-yard TD pass to J.T. Keer. When Martin split the uprights, Marian led 7-6 with 9:36 on the board.
"I like the way our kids responded," Sajone said about what transpired next. Capping a 28-yard drive, Whalen ran for a seven-yard score at the 4:52 mark. QB Chris Palubinsky passed to Nick Merva for the two-point conversion and the Devils were in front 14-7.
But that wasn't all! Whalen picked off a pass on the next series, giving the Devils the pigskin at their own 27. Palubinsky, who passed for 231 yards in the first half, connected with Merva for a 39 yard gain, and then tossed to Bill Moyer for a 36-yard TD play at the 2:44 point. The same Palubinsky-to-Merva play made it 22-7.
Then, to close out the first half, Palubinsky intercepted a second Marian pass, returning it 27 yards to the Marian 33. On the next snap, he dished off a screen to Whalen that resulted in another score, this one coming with 32 seconds left in the half. And, for the third time, the Palubinsky-to-Merva combination was successful, making it 30-7.
"You just can't do that against a good team," Dakosty stated. "And they're a good team, with a QB who is very good and a running back who is a great runner."
Marian cut the deficit to 30-14 when Quick passed eight yards to Eric Baker for a tally with 11:21 left in the game, but the Devils came right back for a matching TD. Whalen carried 64 yards on three tries, including a 49-yarder, followed by a four-yard scoring run with 10:11 on the board, finishing off the scoring.
'We have to continue to work to eliminate mistakes," said Dakosty.