Marian defeats Miners
DOUG EDWARDS/times news Marian quarterback Corey Quick hands off to Paul Martin (26) during Sunday's game against Minersville..
Bruce Balliet was confident Marian's dormant offense would soon come to life.
Until that time, the Colts' senior defensive end led the charge that stiffled Minersville's running game and kept the heat on Battlin' Miners quarterback Zach Dixon.
Balliet's faith in the Colts' attack was rewarded with three second half touchdowns as the Colts pulled away for a 24-13 Anthracite League victory Sunday night in a twice-postponed Homecoming contest at Men of Marian Stadium.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Marian (2-5 overall, 2-3 league), as it maintained its gridiron mastery over Minersville (1-6, 1-5). The Colts have captured all 12 meetings against the Miners, including a 20-0 triumph in Hometown for the District 11 Class A title in 2007.
Both teams have endured their share of struggles so far this season. The first half seemed indicative of that; Marian led 2-0 on a safety when Balliet sacked Dixon in the end zone with 8:18 left in the first quarter.
At that point it appeared neither side would generate any more points.
The Colts killed their chances by losing three fumbles, but they shut down Minersville's ground game, which was limited to minus eight net yards for the first half before ending with 15 total yards on 38 attempts.
Marian's pass rush sacked Dixon seven times for the game, with Balliet getting three of them.
"We started out with emotional intensity,'' said Balliet. ''Our defense stepped it up big time, and we knew if we could hold them, our offense would eventually unfold.''
"In the first half, I thought we had them, we just needed to do something offensively,'' said Minersville coach Pat Mason. "Our defense played superbly, but we couldn't get that play we needed to get anything going.
"They had the momentum at halftime, even though I thought we controlled the first half, which is odd.''
The Colts cashed in on a big offensive play in the third quarter, as senior wide receiver Joe Kloap outdueled a defender for a pass from senior QB Pat Leitzel. The 49-yard bomb set up a 14-yard run by Balliet for the game's first touchdown with 1:49 left in the period.
After a Balliet sack forced the Miners to punt on the next series, Leitzel went deep for Kloap again, this time for a 40 yard scoring strike. Paul Martin's PAT kick gave Marian a 17-0 edge with 10:16 left in the game.
"I thought we had that fade pattern, but we missed it a couple of times in the first half,'' said Marian coach Stan Dakosty. "We just kept going until we got it. Joe Kloap is an outstanding football player, and he does so many things for us that go unnoticed. He plays defense (he had one of the Colts' two interceptions), he's a receiver and he punts for us (seven times for a 35 yard average).''
Dixon got the Miners in the end zone twice in the fourth quarter, but the Colts squeezed a 74 yard scoring scamper by Martin, who rushed for 137 yards on 16 carries, in between that to maintain a double digit advantage.
Dakosty agreed that the Colts' second half performance was their best of the season.
"These kids and coaches have been here everyday, and they come out and work hard,'' he noted. "We've had some good practices the last couple of weeks, and I said, let's go out and play the way we've practiced for once, and they did.''