SHENANDOAH - Battered, bruised and band-aided, the Marian Colt football team made the difficult trek here Friday night to Alumni Stadium to face the Blue Devils of Shenandoah Valley, and despite resembling a hodge podge of talent more misplaced than conveniently put in their proper positions, Coach Stan Dakosty's contingent pulled off a 35-21upset of their previously 5-2 hosts.
The injured Colts also met the sickness bug this week - having had 16 players out of school due to illness - but that didn't stop them from roaring out to a commanding lead in a game in which they were the decided underdog. Similar to last week's outing with Minersville, when they put the Miners on their heels but couldn't knock them out, the Colts clicked on all cylinders early, taking a 22-0 lead. Unlike a week ago when they squandered a two-score advantage, the Colts just weren't ready to let this one get away, twice holding off the Devils after they got within a TD of takling the lead.
In the end, a 21-yard interception return by Ryan Karnish for a six-pointer rounded out the scoring and sealed the win with 1:34 left to play.
"Our kids came and played. Some were sick, tired and hurt, but they played like champions. It was a super effort by the entire team," said Dakosty.
With star runningback Paul Martin nursing an ankle injury and Division 1 lineman Brendan McGowan also on the injury list, Dakosty was forced to make whoesale changes in his lineup. Two fullbacks, Anthony Damiano and Sam Budusky, played guard; tight end Lukas Damian was switched to tackle; and Mark Mylnek got a star at tight end. "We had 16 out sick this week, and had to move people around, but we told our guys if you are a football player, you're a football player, and it doesn't matter what position you play."
Reserve back Dylan Quirk got the nod at tailback, responding beautifully with a 23-carry, 169-yard performance that netted him three TDs. Phil Schron added 52 yards on nine carries and a TD. Defensively, in addition to Karnish's theft, Damiano, Schron and John Julian has "picks" of SV QB Nick Merva.
Schron's tally came on Marian's first possession, the one-yard run capping a 72-yard drive with 9:07on the board, making it 7-0. Quirk hit paydirt at 5:56 of the first stanza, racing to the endzone from four yards out and making it 14-0, and a 37-yard run at the 10:00 point of the second quarter resulted in a 22-0 Marian advantage.
"It was a great game, with a great effort in an emergency situation," said Dakosty of the Colts' quick start.
Despite the deficit, Shenandoah rallied in the second half to make a game out of the tilt. Merva, playing for injured QB Chris Palubinsky, directed a 60-yard drive that ended in a TD on his own 17-yard run with 8:20 left in the third stanza. Later in the period, after Devil John Szczyglak recovered a fumble at the Marian 20, Merva scored his second touchdown on a one-yard run. With 1:08 left in the period, the Colt lead was cut to 22-14.
Marian responded with a touchdown of its own when Quirk hit paydirt for a third time. His five-yard run with 9:57 left in the third quarter made it 28-14.
The 14-point lead was short-lived. Merva found receiver Billy Moyer open on a pass play that covered 80 yards and he went into the endzone just 52 seconds after Quirk, cutting the Marian advantage to 28-21.
Things stayed that was until Karnish, playing after overcoming a bout with pneumonia, intercepted Merva and returned the ball 21 yards for Marian's last tally.
"We tend to make things interesting,"Dakosty said. In all, the blue and gold racked up 294 yards of offense.