Ethan Richardson rushed for 163 yards and four touchdowns Friday as Marion pulled away from an injury-ravaged Carroll County in the second half for a 35-6 Southwest District win in Hillsville.
With its defense playing extremely well, the Cavaliers trailed just 7-6 at halftime. Carroll County (1-8, 0-4 SWD) limited Richardson to just 48 yards rushing on 12 carries at that point. But in the second half, injuries began to take their toll. Already missing starting fullback Jake Dillon and tailback Josh Blankenship heading into to the game, the team’s fastest player, Patrick Davis, also suffered an injury that limited his playing time, and Austin Spence left the game before the half with an injury.
Missing almost all of its normal backfield rotation, the Carroll offense struggled to get much going. Meanwhile, the defense started to bend as well as Richardson rushed for 115 yards and three scores after intermission.
“We got injuries and had to make some changes. I don’t know, the changes shouldn’t have affected us that much. We did have to make changes and I don’t know if our kids felt like what we were doing changed,” Carroll County head coach Tom Hale said. “It’s the most inconsistent group of kids I’ve ever coached. We played so well in the first half and stunk it up in the second half. But even in the first half we just couldn’t seem to get much going offensively.”
After Carroll’s defense stopped Marion (5-4, 2-1 SWD) to open the third quarter, the Scarlet Hurricane took control four plays later when Trey Crook lived up to his name, pilfering a Connor Lundy pass and returning it six yards to the Carroll 19. Richardson took an option pitch left on the next play and scooted into the end zone from 19 yards out for a 14-6 Marion lead.
Carroll marched down the field on the ensuing 12-play drive, but a false start penalty on 4th and 4 at the Marion 17 stopped the threat. Richardson made the Cavs pay on the next play, toeing the right sideline before evading a host of Carroll tacklers and cutting it back across the field for a 78-yard touchdown. Richardson’s long run put Marion ahead 21-6 with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
After a three-and-out by the Cavaliers, the Scarlet Hurricane took over at midfield. Passes of 10 and 11 yards, sandwiched around a pass interference penalty, set Richardson up for his fourth TD, this one from a yard out for a 28-6 cushion with 8:52 remaining.
Marion put it out of reach for good on its next possession as backup quarterback Hunter Lefler called his own name and rambled 28 yards for a score on a QB keeper. The final score put the Scarlet Hurricane in front 35-6 with 5:19 to play.
Crook completed 12-of-15 passes for 98 yards to compliment Richardson’s big game on the ground.
Carroll caught a huge break early in the game as Marion drove 86 yards on 14 plays. After gaining five yards, Crook fumbled into the end zone, however, and Chris Smoot recovered for the Cavs at the 1. The Scarlet Hurricane would go on to score later in the quarter on a 17-yard Richardson touchdown run.
Carroll responded midway through the second quarter as Kody Alley’s 40-yard run helped set up a 2-yard touchdown plunge from Lundy on a QB sneak. The extra point was blocked, leaving Marion ahead 7-6.
Austin Smith led the Cavalier offense with 93 yards rushing on 18 carries, while Alley toted the ball five times for 49 yards. Marion limited Carroll to 198 yards of total offense.
Marion 7 0 14 14 - 35
Carroll 0 600 -6
M – Richardson 17 run (Wagner kick)
CC – Lundy 2 run (kick blocked)
M – Richardson 19 run (Glass kick)
M – Richardson 78 run (Glass kick)
M – Richardson 1 run (Glass kick)
M – Lefler 28 run (Glass kick)
First Downs 17 11
Passing Yards98 25
RUSHING – Richardson 19-163, Crook 8-47, Glass 3-35, Lefler 1-28, Wagner 1-2.
PASSING – Crook 12-15-0 98 yds.
RECEIVING – Rivero 5-36, Lincoln 3-39, Haydean 3-12, Blevins 1-11.
RUSHING – Au. Smith 18-93, Alley 5-49, Davis 4-21, Giles 3-8, Lundy 1-2, Team 1-0.
PASSING – Lundy 4-18-1 25 yds.
RECEIVING – Smoot 2-20, Giles 1-5, Alley 1-0.