Coach Greg Breitbach and the Marauders took to Chryst Field for the second time in as many weeks in search of their first win of the season against visiting Clarion. And, for the second time in as many weeks, Breitbach and the Marauders walked away on the losing end of a heartbreaking football game.
Last week’s game against Livingstone went south for the Marauders after they led big late in the game, but lost that lead in the closing seconds of the season opener. Saturday afternoon’s game was a very different kind of heartbreaking. After a relatively quiet first quarter, Clarion exploded, scoring 48 points in the final three quarters, trouncing the Marauders by a final score of 55-16.
Heading into the afternoon match up, the Golden Eagles had history and experience on their side. Clarion entered leading the all-time series between the two teams 7-6, including four wins in the last five games.
For the majority of the first half it looked as though it would be another close game for the Marauders. With just over three minutes left in the second quarter, the Marauders found themselves down 7-0 having just pinned the Golden Eagles at their own nine yard line following a punt.
That punt marked the high point for the Marauders on the afternoon, and the point at which the floodgates opened for the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles drove down the field to the Millersville 49 before being forced to punt the ball away with just 33 seconds left on the clock. A good punt by Clarion kicker Scott Ayers put the Marauders at their own 12 yard line, leaving the team with two options: sit on the ball and go into halftime down by just seven, or attempt to drive down field to even the score.
Breitbach ultimately elected to put the ball into the hands of quarterback Matt Misley, who was promptly intercepted by defensive back Connor Scott. Scott scampered into the endzone to give Clarion a two possession lead with 24 seconds remaining in the half.
Had the Marauders been given another shot at a miraculous 30 second drive down the field, Misley and the Marauders may have taken a knee and shouldered a 14 point deficit heading into the half.
The Marauders, however, never got that opportunity.
Following the nearly last second picksix, Clarion lined up for the kickoff and sent a high kick sailing down the right sideline where the kick was muffed, allowing Clarion to recover at the Millersville 33.
From there it took just two quick strikes from Connor Simmons, the latter of which was completed to Mark Nicholas in the end zone, to give the Golden Eagles a 210 with four seconds left on the clock.
Four seconds were not enough for the Golden Eagles to manage another stunning touchdown, however, as Malont’a Patterson handled the kickoff, taking it back to the 32 and bringing the half to a close.
Not quite done with the offensive explosion, the Golden Eagles managed to score on the opening possession of the second half, putting them up by a lopsided 28-0 score.
The same offense that went off last week against visiting Livingstone for 44 points on 503 yards was held quiet the majority of the afternoon against Clarion.
A field goal by Evan Stahl on the Marauders’ next possession finally broke the scoreless streak and cut the deficit to 25. Both teams traded touchdowns in the next three minutes, including a 51-yard touchdown pass from Misley to wide receiver Kevin Porter, his first receiving touchdown of the season.
Following the touchdown pass, the Marauders tried some trickery of their own, as Kenny Ravel’s onside kick was recovered at the Clarion 38. Misley and Malont’a Patterson connected for a touchdown for the third time in two games to cut into the Golden Eagles once seemingly-insurmountable lead.
Unfortunately for the Marauders, the Golden Eagles lead was indeed too much for the Millersville offense, which was held quiet for the remainder of the contest.
Clarion managed to tack on three more touchdowns in the game’s final quarter, pushing their lead to a whopping 39 points when the final whistle blew.
Despite the loss, Patterson remained a bright spot for the Marauders. The freshman wideout out of Dunbar High School in Washington, D.C. Recorded 83 yards from scrimmage and brought his touchdown total on the season to four.
The Marauders will play their third consecutive game at Chryst Field at Biemesderfer Stadium when they host Slippery Rock on Saturday, Sept. 20 at 4 p.m. Defending PSAC West champ Slippery Rock is 2-0 thus far on the season, coming off of a 56-24 pounding of East Stroudsburg.