Saturday, September 1st, 2012
By Randy Bruns
Flyers win barn-burner
WEST JEFFERSON - The Marion Local Flyers survived a madcap shootout on Friday night thanks to an explosive offensive that made up for a porous defense.
Marion traveled nearly 100 miles to Madison County to take on the West Jefferson Roughriders, and the large crowd that followed the Blue and Gold saw plenty of offense and went home happy after a thrilling 44-37 victory.
Marion moves to 2-0 on the season while West Jefferson falls to 1-1.
At various times throughout the night the Flyers appeared ready to put the game away but each time the Roughriders found an answer via some big plays.
The visitors grabbed a 16-0 lead after Jacy Goettemoeller took a 13-yard screen pass from Adam Bertke to paydirt on the first play of the second quarter, and it appeared that the spirited home crowd would be taken out of the game.
Things calmed down for awhile, but the last three minutes of the half provided plenty of fireworks.
A Marion fumble led to the hosts' first score, and though Bertke answered with a 60-yard scoring strike to Austin Albers, West Jefferson went on a lightning quick drive to pull to within 23-16 at the half.
"There were three times in this game where we had them on the ropes and we should have taken control of the game," said an exasperated Marion coach Tim Goodwin. "I think we'll learn that once we get a few more games under our belts, but right now it's a work in process."
The Flyers seized the momentum early in the second half after a 19-yard touchdown jaunt by Bertke, but the Roughriders came right back and scored twice to knot the score at 30-apiece late in the third quarter.
Marion's most important drive of the game came early in the fourth quarter. A pair of key fourth-down conversions – including one in their own territory – allowed the visitors to move downfield and milk some clock before Bertke barged in from two yards out for the go-ahead score.
The junior quarterback later added an insurance touchdown on another two-yard drive, and it turned out to be important, as the Roughriders scored with 44 ticks left to pull to within seven at 44-37. The ensuing onside kick attempt was scooped up by the Flyers, though, to finally put an end to the drama.
"I don't think I'm cut out to be the coach of a spread offense," chuckled Goodwin after the third highest-scoring game in his 14-year tenure. "We've got to find somebody that will tackle for us in the secondary. We're awfully young back there but we just have to keep working, because that's who we've got. We just have to keep working with these young guys until they get better."
Both quarterbacks had outstanding statistical nights. Bertke completed 17-of-27 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 110 yards and three scores. His counterpart, senior Seth Casto of West Jefferson, hit on 17-of-23 throws for 267 yards and three touchdowns while he also ran for two more.
"Throughout the game we made some crucial mistakes but (Marion) deserves a lot of credit," said West Jefferson coach Shawn Buescher. "They're a great football team and that's why we scheduled them. We wanted to reach out and play these types of games in the regular season because this is where we want our program to be."
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