By Kyle Lutz
MOUNDSVILLE, W.Va. — It was another successful night on the ground for John Marshall. Looking to start the season 2-0, the Monarchs found a 1-2 punch in the backfield. After rushing for over 200 yards to start the season, Dalton Flowers picked up where he left off securing 145 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
However, Alex Burton was very much in on the action as well as he eclipsed the 100-yard mark (138) and found the end zone three times as John Marshall secured a 46-13 victory over Preston on Friday night at Monarch Stadium.
“I thought we blew a couple of opportunities early,” John Marshall coach Jason Willis said. “We got had some drives, had a couple of turnovers and they stopped us at the 1 yard line. Those guys were playing physical and playing hard. We finally busted through with a couple of plays and I thought we played a lot better in the second half. I thought our tempo was a lot better, especially the offense. Our defense has been playing great all year. I’m pleased with the effort.”
The first missed opportunity for the Monarchs was in fact on their first drive. Starting at their 31, the Monarchs drove to the Knights’ 1 in 16 plays. However, the Preston defense did not break and stuffed the Monarchs to force a turnover on downs.
On the second possession, though, the Monarchs made sure to finish. Derrick Derrow connected with Bryce “Pudge” Rayl from 19 yards out for the first score of the game. The duo connected again in the second quarter, an 81-yard strike to put the score at 20-0 with 3:49 left in the first half.
Rayl led the receiving core with 101 yards on three catches while Derrow went 8 of 11 for 165 yards and his two touchdowns.
The ground game came to life in the second half as John Marshall found the end zone three times in third quarter. Derrow scampered to the end zone from 16 yards out on its first possession of the half. The next possession for the Monarchs, Flowers had his longest run of the game as he broke through the defense and found the pylon on a 45-yard touchdown run.
Burton put the final touches on the quarter as he found the end zone from 10 yards out as time expired to put the score at 39-0. It was Burton’s second score of the night.
“We have confidence in both of those guys,” Willis said. “Burton hits the hole and has another gear. Dalton is a power runner and he’s not slow at all either. We’re confident with any guy back there as long as the offensive line keeps playing like they’ve been playing and getting better each week, I think we will be fine with the running game.”
With 8:12 remaining in the game, J.J. Townsend put the first points on the board for Preston. An 11-yard run erased the shutout opportunity. The running back paced the Knights’ offense with 126 yards on 19 attempts.
“It was a smash mouth game. Our tackling wasn’t very well on defense. We missed a lot of tackles,” Preston coach Jonathan Tennant said. “We didn’t last week. They just overpowered us defensively and we gave up some big pass plays that hurt us badly. Offensively, we didn’t move people up front until the second half. John Marshall is a good team.”
Along with their goal line stand on the Monarchs’ opening drive, the Knights’ defense did make some huge stops deep in their territory in the first half to keep it close.
On the Monarchs’ third possession, Jaxson Lewis intercepted a pass on the 1-yard line as well as the defense forcing another TOD on their 28 two possessions later.
“I was real proud with that,” Tennant said. “We just have to be more consistent. Like I told the kids, we got to play every play.”
With 6:53 remaining in the game, Burton scored on his longest TD run of the night a 28-yarder that put the score at 46-7.
With 10 seconds remaining, the Trevor Thomas connected with Zach Riffle for a 34 yard strike to put the final points on the board.
“Keep trying to get better each week,” Willis said. “We have a tough challenge in Oak Glen next week. Enjoy this one (Friday) and get ready for (Saturday) and we’ll start looking at Oak Glen.”
John Marshall 46, Preston 13
Preston 0 0 7 6 – 13
John Marshall 7 13 19 7 – 46
J — Rayl 19 pass from Derrow (McIntyre kick), 1:08
J – Burton 3 run (McIntyre kick). 9:27
J – Rayl 81 pass from Derrow (kick failed), 3:49
J – Derrow 16 run (kick failed), 9:29
J – Flowes 45 run (kick failed), 7:29
J – Burton 10 run (McIntyre kick), 0:00
P – Townsend 11 run (Thomas kick), 8:12
J – Burton 28 run (McIntyre kick), 6:53
P – Riffle 34 pass from Thomas (run failed), :10
Rushing: Preston 29-126-td (19-126-td, Thomas 7-12, Team 1-(-8), Layton 1-1, Gibbs 1-(-5). John Marshall 55-347-5td (Flowers 20-145-td, Menendez 7-27, Burton 16-138-3td, Derrow 5-26-td, McCardle 2-14, Team 2-(-6), Coffield 1-1, Tschappat 2-2).
Passing: Preston 9-22-75-td (all by Thomas). John Marshall 8-13-177-2td-x (Derrow 7-11-165-2td, Coffiled 1-2-12-x).
Receiving: Preston 9-75-td (Riffle 4-53-td, Fraley 2-17, Townsend 3-5). Paden City 8-177-td (Rayl 3-101-3td, Wiley 4-66, Sobutka 1-10).
First Downs: Preston 11, John Marshall 24.
Penalties: Preston 4-25, John Marshall 5-40.
Fumbles: Preston 4-1, John Marshall 3-0.