A spirited effort kept Robinson High School's football team close for a half, but the Maroons were unable to keep pace with a talented Marshall squad in the second half, resulting in a 39-7 loss in the Little Illini Conference contest (Sept. 8).
"All week and tonight before the game we pleaded with them to fight like heck and I thought they really did in the first half," RHS head coach Tim Nolen said. "Marshall has got a good ball club and in the second half I thought they might try to just run right at us and they did. They were just bigger and stronger than we were."
The Maroons went toe-to-toe with the Lions right from the outset. Robinson drove across midfield on their opening possession before having to punt, but a Marshall fumble would set RHS up in scoring position at the 26. However, they were unable to cash in and turned the ball over on downs.
Robinson forced Marshall to punt on their next possession and put together another solid drive, only for it to end with an interception in the end zone.
After another Marshall punt and good return by Landon Roy, the Maroons were set up in Marshall territory again. This time they were able to cash in, as Grayson Wolf tossed a 26-yard touchdown pass to Brayden Childress and Lukas Baird added the extra point for a 7-0 RHS lead at the 10:08 mark of the second quarter.
The lead would be short-lived, however, as Marshall's Cody Turner broke loose for a 72-yard touchdown run on the second play of the Lions' next drive to tie the game after the extra point.
Marshall then took the lead for good at the 2:56 mark on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Marcus Downs to Garrett Frank and the Lions led 13-7 at halftime.
"In the first half, that was as good of defense as we've played in a long time," Nolen said. "And we did that playing two and sometimes three freshmen out there. Freshman Cory Woods played almost the entire game at defensive tackle and played well. He caused a lot of trouble in the middle. We were also two miscues away from having three touchdowns in the first half and that could've made it a different ball game."
The Maroons also are playing a lot of young players on offense and they got even more time Friday, as senior Ethan Williams was injured on the first play from scrimmage and did not return.
"As bad as I felt when Bryston (James) got hurt, I feel just as bad for Ethan," Nolen said. "He has been the heart and soul of our team for three years and one of the hardest workers. He plays as hard as he can every play. It's just unbelievable what we are going through with injuries right now."
The Lions then added touchdowns on each of their first two drives of the third quarter to extend their advantage to 26-7.
Robinson tried to stay close, driving inside the 10 on their next possession, but eventually turned the ball over on downs. Marshall then tacked on two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.
Tyler Beard was the leading rusher for RHS with 64 yards, while Roy added 42 yards on the ground. Wolf completed his only pass to Childress for the Maroons' only touchdown, while Ely Parker also completed five passes for 29 yards.
"This was the third week in a row we basically had to reinvent our offense," Nolen said. "We went more to a read option game and it wasn't perfect, but we had some awfully good plays. Ely threw the ball well, just had some bad luck on a couple of interceptions. I'm real pleased with his progress and he and Grayson make a pretty good 1-2 punch. Grayson made a great pass for the touchdown and it was good to see him have some success."
Frank led RHS with 129 yards rushing and two touchdowns and also had a receiving touchdown, while Jacob Shaffner ran for 120 yards and threw a touchdown pass. Turner added 84 yards on the ground and a touchdown and Downs ran for 54 yards and a score and threw for 36 yards and another score.
"I know the score doesn't show it and I'm not into moral victories, but this team made a positive step tonight," Nolen said. "Our young kids are playing their tails off. They just didn't have enough strength to do it for four quarters."
At Crosby Field, Robinson
Marshall 0 13 13 13 - 39
Robinson 0 7 0 0 - 7
RHS 2Q (10:08) Grayson Wolf 26 pass to Brayden Childress (Lukas Baird kick)
MHS 2Q (9:21) Cody Turner 72 run (Cole Livvix kick)
MHS 2Q (2:56) Marcus Downs 19 pass to Garrett Frank (kick blocked)
MHS 3Q (8:40) Frank 2 run (Livvix kick)
MHS 3Q (5:16) Frank 45 run (kick failed)
MHS 4Q (6:51) Downs 20 run (kick blocked)
MHS 4Q (3:48) Jacob Shaffner 7 pass to Cole Boyer (Livvix kick)
First Downs 12 17
Rushes-Yds 38-134 38-385
Passes-Yds 6-11-55 4-6-56
Fumbles-Lost 5-0 1-1
Penalties-Yds 5-30 7-46
Rushing - (RHS) Tyler Beard 10-64, Landon Roy 8-42, Wrigley Young 9-24, Trent Rodgers 1-19, Grayson Wolf 4-1, Ely Parker 6-(-16). (MHS) Garrett Frank 10-129, Jacob Shaffner 10-120, Cody Turner 8-84, Marcus Downs 8-54, Brock Weddle 2-(minus 2).
Passing - (RHS) Ely Parker 5-10-29-0TD-2INT; Grayson Wolf 1-1-26-1TD-0INT. (MHS) Marcus Downs 2-4-36-1TD-0INT; Jacob Shaffner 2-2-20-1TD-0INT.
Receiving - (RHS) Brayden Childress 2-20, Kasey Cornwell 2-16, Landon Roy 1-13, Evan Hale 1-6. (MHS) Garrett Frank 2-36, Cole Boyer 2-20.
Defense - (RHS) Branton Scott 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback pressure, 1 sack; Parker Johnson 1 forced fumble; Jeff Hermann 1 tackle for loss, 1 quarterback pressure; Wrigley Young 1 fumble recovery; Landon Roy 1 pass breakup; Addison Heckler 1 tackle for loss.