With the chilly wind swirling in his face and the clock ticking down on the first half, 32 yards stood between third-year kicker Mike Morzenti and the lead.
Morzenti shrugged off the elements and nailed a field goal that put the Maroons up 10-7, which proved to be all they would need in a 31-7 home victory over Bethany College in non-conference action Saturday.
“That’s a highlight performance. That was a tough game to kick in, and Mike, [first-year holder] Rob Huff, and [second-year snapper] Eric Meckley gave a great show,” head coach Dick Maloney said.
The special team’s ability to overcome bad weather conditionsafter struggling earlier this seasonwas a key turning point in a game where the Maroons (2-5, 0-2) also did a solid job on offense and defense to snap a rough, five-game losing streak.
“It’s a relief to get that out of the way, and it was definitely nice to win the last game at home for us seniors,” fourth-year wide receiver Drew Maloney said.
Fourth-year tailback Frank Brown led the offensive attack, rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns. He also helped in the air, putting the Maroons in position for their second touchdown with a 42-yard third quarter reception.
“That’s Frank’s best game this season,” coach Maloney said. “He had one fumble, but aside from that he really had a great day.”
“With the wind as it was, we needed a big running day. Our running backs stepped up when they had to, and made some people miss down field. The offensive line really opened up some great holes for them, too,” Drew Maloney said.
The defensive unit contributed another great effort, shutting out Bethany in the second half and holding the Bison to just 50 rushing yards.
The Maroons’ defensive ends led the way, with third-year Rob Tamillow and fourth-year Erik Anderson combining for 11 tackles, 8 for loss, 6 of them sacks to dominate the ground game.
“We made some great stands, especially in the later part of the game,” coach Maloney said. “They really came up big for us.”
The game was marked by an unusually high number of penalties. Each team was flagged nine times, costing Bethany 63 yards and the Maroons 99.
“When you’ve got two teams who both really want to make the plays, there’s the tendency to make an error. We had a couple fumbles, and people were getting jarred in the pile. That leads to personal fouls. Things calmed down a bit in the second half,” coach Maloney said. “I think the officials did a good job. It’s a football game, not a brawl.”
The Maroons lost three fumbles against Bethany and recovered a fourth.
This Saturday, the Maroons travel to Case Western (4-5, 1-1), a team they have beaten in seven consecutive meetings.
“It should be a tough game, a game with a lot of big hits. They’re a motivated, strong team, and they’ll be up to the challenge,” Drew Maloney said. “But if we play like we played in the second half against Bethany, we can win.