HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Homer-Center uses big quarter to beat Marion Center
MARION CENTER — Marion Center looked like a worthy adversary for early conference front-runner Homer-Center in the first 10 minutes of Friday’s game.
After the 10-minute mark, however, the Wildcats showed why they’re unbeaten, piling up 20 second-quarter points to coast to a 28-6 win in a Heritage Conference football game at Dr. John R. Mallino Stadium.
The Wildcats, who have outscored their first three opponents 110-25, are out to a 3-0 start for the second straight year.
“You’ve got to give credit to them. They came ready to play, and I told (Marion Center coach Dave Malicky) they would,” Homer-Center coach Greg Page said. “It’s always a dogfight up here, but we were able to stretch it a little bit in the second quarter there because we just stuck to what we wanted to do. We found a few things that we thought could work, running and throwing, and we just tried to execute. … Those kids battled their tails off out there tonight.”
The Stingers forced a three-and-out on Homer-Center’s first possession, and despite failing to chalk up any points, they controlled the ball for the bulk of the first quarter.
Homer-Center found its groove on its second drive, though, and marched 79 yards on 18 plays to take a 7-0 lead. Quarterback Aaron Berezansky completed 3 of 3 passes, including a 20-yard touchdown pass to running back Matt McAdoo on second-and-20.
Running an out pattern in the left flat, McAdoo kept his eyes on Berezansky’s pass as Marion Center cornerback Jonathan Baker broke sharply on the ball. Baker missed an interception by inches, allowing McAdoo to corral the pass and run untouched down the left sideline for a touchdown with 7:55 to play in the first half.
“I just tried my hardest to look the ball in and then go as far as I could. That’s about all you can do,” McAdoo said.
“I thought we threw it a little late,” Page added. “We hit it earlier, and we saw that it was out there. We hit it a little late, and I was a little concerned, but he put the ball on the money, and Mac made a good catch and then did the rest on his own.”
The Wildcats forced a three-and-out on Marion Center’s ensuing possession before marching 51 yards on eight plays on their next drive to score another touchdown. Lee ran three times for 25 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0 with 1:56 left in the first half.
Marion Center went three-and-out on its next possession and elected to punt. However, punter Blake Orr had to leap to get a finger on an errant long snap. Once Orr finally picked up the loose ball, he decided to throw a pass instead of punt. Orr’s pass fell incomplete, and Homer-Center got possession at the Marion Center 39 with 25 seconds to go in the first half.
On fourth-and-4 at the 33, Berezansky completed an 11-yard pass to Lee, who alertly stepped out of bounds with 0.8 seconds left in the first half.
Berezansky made the Stingers pay on the next play and lofted a pass to Lee, who was in single coverage with Baker in the left corner of the end zone. Lee bobbled Berezansky’s pass but ultimately came down with the catch for a 22-yard touchdown as time expired to stretch the Wildcats’ lead to 20-0.
“That play right before half killed us, obviously. That was huge,” Malicky said. “We talked about making plays. They made plays in the second quarter, we didn’t. That’s what we talked about at halftime: ‘You’ve got to make plays and you’ve got to step up.’”
Homer-Center mounted a back-breaking scoring drive that chewed 8:39 off the clock on its second possession of the second half. The Wildcats covered 98 yards on 16 plays, an impressive drive that culminated with a 3-yard touchdown run from McAdoo that made it 28-0 with 7:18 to go in the game.
Colton Fairman finally put the Stingers on the board on their next possession by scoring on a 10-yard run to cap a nine-play, 61-yard drive.
Derek Simpson recovered a fumble on the ensuing onside kick to give the Stingers a ray of hope.
Simpson then hauled in a 36-yard reception on the next play to give Marion Center the ball at the Wildcats’ 15 with 3:15 to play. Two plays later, though, John Ireland intercepted an Orr pass and returned it 19 yards to all but seal the win.
“Homer’s a very solid club. That’s the best way I can describe them,” Malicky said. “They play defense well, they get to the football well, they’re always in position, and they don’t make many mistakes. You’ve got to try to beat them, and we made a couple mistakes. They’re a very senior-laden team, and that’s a big difference sometimes. We’ve got some good seniors, too, don’t get me wrong, but Coach Page has been looking for this team for a few years over there, and he’s got a nice one.”
Berezansky finished 10 of 13 passing for 113 yards. Lee racked up a game-high 82 yards on 19 carries, Mike Newhouse added 51 yards on 12 carries, and McAdoo had 36 yards on six attempts. Lee caught four passes for 54 yards, and McAdoo snagged three balls for 40 yards.
PHOTO: Homer Center's Ean Lee pulled in a touchdown pass over Marion Center's Jonathan Baker as time expired in the first half Friday night.
John Lucas paced Marion Center with 34 yards on eight carries. Noah Hoover had 30 yards on seven carries and 45 yards on three catches.