After a shaky start, the Marceline Tigers' football team laid waste to Fayette on Friday night at the friendly confines of Chester Ray Stadium, improving to 4-0 with the 48-12 victory.
Fayette scored the first 12 points of the game, both rushing touchdowns coming from running back Isaiah Estes out of Fayette's featured two-flanker set, reminiscent of a Navy-style offensive concept except predominantly featuring intricate handoff-designs rather than options. Estes' biggest play came on the Falcons' opening drive when the junior dashed 30 yards to put his team inside of Marceline's 20.
"They were pretty much in the same defense we expected them to be in, so we practiced against it," Fayette coach Roger VanDeZande said. "This was a game in which the team who made the fewest mistakes was going to win, and we shot ourselves in the foot. Down the stretch, their depth and conditioning played into it. They played great defense all four quarters."
Marceline's first touchdown was a three-yard Rylan Chrisman rush -- his first of four scores on the evening -- with 3:29 to play in the first half, bringing the Tigers back within five points. Chrisman finished the night with 133 yards on 24 carries.
The final 40 seconds of the half was a bizarre turn of events. After Fayette found itself with a 4th and 33 from its own seven-yard line, the Falcons deliberately took a safety as not to be forced to punt the ball back to Marceline with 35 seconds remaining. Marceline had no timeouts.
On the ensuing free kick in the three-point ballgame, Clayton Stallo took the kickoff to the house to give the Tigers a 16-12 lead returning to the locker room.
"We came out, and we weren't ready. We didn't know what we were getting into," senior captain Levi Terrell said. "We had to get our minds right. (Stallo's) touchdown was the biggest play in this game. That's when we knew we were in it. We never thought we were out, but at that moment, we realized that we had taken control of this thing."
Marceline dominated the second half, scoring the next 32 points and holding its opponent to cross midfield only once.
Fayette gained 203 yards from scrimmage throughout the game, rushing for 170 of them. Marceline quarterback Chase Billups passed for 136 yards and a touchdown on an 8-of-10 performance. The Tigers rushed for 180 yards, including a 35-yard touchdown on the legs of Hunter Teeter.
Marceline second-year coach Greg Hough said that his team has to clean up in some areas, particularly strapping it on and getting energized in pregame routines. Hough said that he was especially frustrated with his team's six penalties for 55 yards, out of character for the Tiger side in each of the past two weeks.
"I think a lot of our lack of energy has to do with the Bell Game, arguably one of the biggest environments and a major emotional high," Hough said. "When we came out here for the game, our kids were really quiet, and it showed early. We knew it as coaches, we knew they'd be as physical as they were last year. We knew we'd have to execute, and if we didn't do so, we'd be in a ballgame. That's exactly what happened in the first half."
The Tigers host Paris on Friday.