The Marceline Tigers opened the 2012 campaign with a non-Conference battle against the Knox County Eagles in Edina. The Tigers showed the same ground-and-pound style that Black Rage fans are used to, scoring on their first three drives, and started the season off on the right foot with a shutout win.
Chase Hilsabeck returned the opening Knox kickoff to his own 37 yard line to start the game. Runs by Dakota Lewis, Blake Belzer, and Kyle Bell earned Marceline a fresh set of downs at the Eagles 47. A trio of runs by Bell, including a 12-yard scamper, set up the first Marceline touchdown of the season; a 22-yard run by Bell. Isaac Smith added the point-after to give the Tigers the early lead.
Q1 8:28 Marceline 7 Knox County 0
Knox returned Levi Kelly's kickoff to their own 22. A first down stop for a loss by Austin Moudy was negated by a second down 42-yard gain. From here, though, Knox would eventually turn the ball over on downs, thanks in-part to a tackle for a loss by Frankie Herring. The Tigers took over at their own 33 yard line.
Bell and Belzer combined for a pair of first downs on the ground. A pair of offsides penalties against Knox earned another Marceline first down. A 26-yard aerial gain from Lewis to Hilsabeck gave the Tigers a First and Goal at the Knox one yard line. Three plays later, Lewis punched it in for the score. Smith added the point-after.
"It was awesome to get a shutout," said Lewis after the game. "The guys played well on both sides of the ball. The defense was really good, though. Every time they would gain yards, we would just push them back."
Q1 1:16 Marceline 14 Knox County 0
Knox returned Kelly's kickoff to their own 29, and, in a drive that stretched into the second quarter, went three-and-out. Hilsabeck partially blocked the kick, which was downed at the Marceline 45.
A good gain by Bell on first down got the Tigers to midfield, but his second down run of 23 yards really penetrated Knox territory. Knox's defense stiffened up from here for a few plays, and a false start penalty backed Marceline up a few yards. Lewis found Belzer through the air for a 12-yard gain on fourth down to earn the first down. Runs by Belzer and Lewis set up a three-yard touchdown run from Bell. Smith again added the point-after.
"On offense, the team really started working together, and the line blocked well," said Bell. "It was a pleasure to run behind them. We got our feet rolling and had fun."
Q2 6:47 Marceline 21 Knox County 0
The teams would exchange possessions from here, with defensive stops for a loss by Lewis and Kelly, and a Marceline fumble giving the ball back to Knox. Another three-and-out by Knox would follow, as would another Marceline fumble. An interception by Hilsabeck, though, gave the Tigers back the ball for one last drive before halftime. A drive, though, that did not yield points.
Page 2 of 2 - Halftime Marceline 21 Knox County 0
Kelly's second half kickoff was downed at the Knox 26, where the Eagles would open the half with a three-and-out. Despite an 11-yard pass from Lewis to Belzer, a Personal Foul penalty against Marceline would doom the Tigers opening drive to a three-and-out as well.
Knox followed suit with a three-and-out of their own, thank in-part to a sack by Moudy, and Marceline took over on their own 27.
A trio of Bell runs earned Marceline a first down at the 40 yard line. Belzer would take it from there, scoring on a 60-yard run. Smith added the point-after.
Q3 4:21 Marceline 28 Knox County 0
Another three-and-out by the Eagles gave Marceline back the ball at the Knox 44 yard line. A pass from Lewis to Moudy would go all the way for the final score of the game. Smith added the point-after.
Q3 2:09 Marceline 35 Knox County 0
Knox would burn the rest of the time in the third quarter on the ensuing drive, and despite a stop for a loss by Moudy, would earn one first down on the drive. They eventually turned the ball over on downs, giving the Tigers the ball at their own 39.
Marceline would sub out some of their upper classmen on their final drive, with the turbo clock going strong. The Tigers final drive included runs from Lewis, Blake Linebaugh, and Duane Avila.
Knox would take back possession in their own territory, gain a couple of first downs into Marceline territory, but ended the game without scoring.
Final Marceline 35 Knox County 0
"Our kids played hard, I thought they came out with focus," said Head Coach Paul Thomas. " I am proud of the kids, they faced adversity and came through with flying colors."
As for improvement between games, Coach Thomas was frank: "We can't turn over the ball, we have to work on ball security. We will watch the film, and see what else we have to do to get ready for next week."