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Marian explodes late to rout PV

It’s no secret that Marian has had trouble posting points this season.

But for one quarter on Friday night, all its scoring woes disappeared.

Facing a deficit against rival Panther Valley Friday night, the Colts exploded for six fourth-quarter touchdowns to turn a close contest into a 48-12 rout.

“No, I’ve never been involved in a quarter like that,” said Marian’s Seth Paluck, who scored the go-ahead touchdown with nine minutes left to play and added another tally later in the frame. “It was great because our offense hasn’t been producing too much the past four weeks.

“It was great to get some scores under our belt. This should give us momentum the rest of the way.”

After a victory on opening night, the Colts (2-4) were shut out three games in a row and managed only special team scores last week. The offense continued to struggle against the Panthers until Paluck lit a spark in that final period.

The junior ran for 19 yards on a fake punt to keep a drive alive and the result was his 1-yard tally that put his team ahead, 14-12.

No one could have expected what would come next.

A Paluck interception on PV’s next possession eventually led to another tally. Lineman Zack Falls pounced on Paluck’s fumble into the end zone to extend the Marian advantage.

Moments later, Max Nolter’s pick-six boosted the margin to 28-12. Paluck broke loose for a 25-yard tally three minutes after that, and Falls returned to the end zone when he deflected a pass, snared it, and took it to the house.

Dalton Rupert capped off Marian’s amazing 41-point quarter when he scooped up a fumble with 27 seconds left and ran it back for a touchdown.

“That score doesn’t indicate how tough of a game that was,” said Colt head coach Pat Morgans. “Things just snowballed on (Panther Valley) and our kids just made plays at the end. That’s what the difference was. I’m proud of our kids. They played a full 48 minutes and that’s what they needed to do.

“Our defense played well the whole game. Our offense sputtered for a while, but our defense kept us in it ... They just stepped up and made a number of plays tonight.”

Marian’s D blanked PV for nearly the entire first half, but the Panthers (2-4) broke through right before intermission when Hunter Kerestes got loose on a fourth-and-two play and raced 38 yards for a touchdown.

A long drive by the visitors to open the second half, keyed by a 34-yard pass from Hunter Kennedy to Tristan Blasko, ended with a 2-yard TD run by Tanner Kennedy that put Panther Valley ahead, 14-12.

“You’re in the third quarter, you have a 12-7 lead, you have momentum and the wheels just fell off,” said PV mentor Scott Price. “I don’t know what happened, and I don’t even know what to say.”

TALE OF TWO HALVES ... The Colts hurt themselves with seven penalties in the first half. After focusing on that at halftime, the team wasn’t penalized at all in the second half.

KICKSTART ... Marian’s Lucca Stroia booted six extra points. The kicker, who didn’t start the season with the Colts, didn’t have any opportunities for point-afters during the team’s three-game scoreless streak.

WORKHORSE ... Paluck ran the ball 29 times, and also had some big kickoff returns, one for 51 yards. “He continues to make plays and carries us on his shoulders,” said Morgans. “He’s a great football player.”

DEFENSIVE LEADER ... Falls had a solid game. Besides the touchdowns on offense and defense, he also had a big tackle for loss. “What Seth is to our skill people, Zack is to our linemen,” said Morgans. “He makes plays all the time but people just don’t notice. That was a huge play (recovering the fumble for a TD) and also the pick at the end.”

POINTS GALORE ... Marian scored 38 points in its first 23 quarters this season before tallying 41 in last night’s final frame.

Marian's Keith McCall dives into the end zone for a touchdown during Friday's game against Panther Valley. Defending on the play is the Panthers' Tristan Blasko. Scan this photo with the Prindeo app to see a video. BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS