Friday night's match-up between Jim Thorpe and Marian pitted arguably the Anthracite League's most dangerous offense in the Olympians against the AFL's best defense in the Colts.
JT came into the match-up averaging 32 points per game, while putting up 354 yards of total offense per contest.
On the flip side, the Marian "D" has only let up 148 yards of total offense per game this season and has held opponents to just nine points per contest.
It might be cliche, but Marian showed on Friday night that the old adage offense sells tickets, but defense wins championships is more often true than it is false. Actually, the Colts haven't won anything yet, but they gave themselves a chance to do so next week against Tamaqua, dominating Thorpe for a 42-6 AFL victory.
The Marian defense once again was the story of the evening.
Hurricane Sandy is on it's way to our area and is going to hit us early next week, but the Colts stormy defense hit the Olympians hard and caused some damage of their own. Jim Thorpe couldn't get anything going offensively all night and came up with just 208 yards of total offense, which is 146 yards below their season average. Thorpe's one man band Pat Duvigneaud struggled on the night as well. The Olympians' senior was averaging 103 yards on the ground rushing and 189 yards through the air a game, but was held to just minus six yards on the ground and 133 passing yards on the night.
"When we watched these guys on film I was a nervous wreck about their offense," said Marian coach Stand Dakosty. "They have the best quarterback that we've seen and they got some great skill kids, but our defense just played so well yet again this season. We just did such a nice job tonight, we knew we didn't want to get into a shootout with them and our goal was to get a nice lead early on. We just really played a great complete game tonight."
The Colts mission of getting out to an early lead was definitely mission accomplished.
Marian drove the ball with success all night on the Olympians accumulating 347 yards on the ground and 439 yards of total offense. The Colts jumped out to a 28-0 lead before Jim Thorpe could find the endzone with 1:30 left in third quarter on 46-yard pitch and catch between Duvigneaud and Mike Harelston. The Colts answered back quickly on their next possession with an Anthony Agosti 62-yard scamper for the score. It was just that kind-of night for the Olympians.
"Their defense is impressive and they're fast and athletic," said Jim Thorpe coach Mark Rosenberger. "They get off blocks well and they make plays all over the field. They're just a physical aggressive defense and you have to credit them for the way they played tonight. We also just need to get better fundamentally on defense. When we're in position to make plays we have to make the play and that didn't happen for us tonight."
Now that Marian has cleared the Jim Thorpe hurdle it's onto the match-up that everyone wanted to see. The Colts will now host undefeated and AFL top team Tamaqua (9-0, 7-0 AFL) next week for a chance to win a co-championship with the Raiders.
"First of all I'm just really happy for our ball players because it wouldn't be such a good game if we didn't play so well this season and that goes for Tamaqua too," said Dakosty. "It's should be an exciting time and all I can say is get their early."