MOUNDSVILLE - The University defense did more bending Friday night than the average human does during a Shaun T-inspired workout. The Hawks never broke, though.
John Marshall had the football inside University territory four times in the first half - to the 20 on three occasions- but came away without a point. The Hawks eventually built a 21-0 lead in the fourth quarter before fending off a huge Monarchs rally for a 21-12 victory at Monarch Stadium.
''I don't know what the final tally was, but I would bet they ran 3-1 or 4-1 more offensive plays,'' University coach John Kelley said. ''If I was disappointed in anything it was our conditioning, but as much as we played defense it must have been pretty good.
Photo by Alex Kozlowski/John Marshall junior Chase Gump (5) tries to avoid University seniors Benjamin Fell (75) and Dylan Cole (24).
''Coach (Rick) Goodrich has this team turned around and they're going to win some games. They've got a good scheme and good, solid players.''
The Hawks (1-0) only threw the ball five times, but a big part of that was field position. They spent the majority of the first half deep in their own territory, but managed to go into halftime with a 7-0 lead courtesy of a 48-yard Jeremy Eckels keeper off a read-option play on their first drive of the season.
John Marshall responded with a 16-play, 60-yard drive - four third-down conversions - that chewed up six minutes of the clock, but it ended when quarterback Noah Martin was intercepted in the end zone by Michael Ramsey. That was the beginning of a long line of missed opportunities for the Monarchs (0-1), who ran 39 first-half plays to 16 for University.
''We didn't finish some drives in that first half for whatever reason,'' Goodrich said. ''Our kids fought and didn't quit, and I thought we were physical the whole game.
''(University) is going to be one of the better teams that we will face this season.''
The teams traded punts to begin the second half, and it was a kick that changed the complexion of the game. The Monarchs fumbled away a University punt and Jacob Costello jumped on it at the JM 35.
Fullback Isaiah Utt (10 carries, 55 yards), capped the six-play drive with a 3-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0.
Three Hawks possessions later they put it away.
An eight-play, 66-yard drive culminated in a 5-yard TD run from Jace Neville, who finished with 90 yards on 12 carries.
''We didn't show anything but our power game,'' Kelley said. ''The big thing in the first half was, I went in at halftime and said 'if you want me to throw the ball, you've got to get me on the other side of the 50.'
''This is a tough place to play with a tremendous amount of pride and support. It's taken a while, but they're back to where they used to be.''
Junior Chase Gump provided the majority of the John Marshall offense. He started at fullback and had 71 yards by halftime, before finishing with 120 on 22 carries.
The Monarchs though, finally got the passing game cranked up in the fourth quarter, where Martin (10 of 26) threw for 145 of his 160 yards, including an 85-yard hookup with Jared Horan to make it 21-6 with 5:30 remaining.
JM's Kyle Caruso recovered the ensuing onside kick, putting his team back in business at the University 47. Eleven plays later the Monarchs were in the end zone as Martin took the ball in from the 1 to make it 21-12, a snap after he had hit Alex Whorton on a 14-yard strike on a fourth-and-7.
This time though, the Hawks were able to recover the kick, only to fumble the ball away two plays later with Luke Howard making the recovery. The Monarchs got it all the way to the Hawks 14 on a 23-yard Whorton reception, but a spike, two incompletions and Eckels' sack of Martin ended the comeback bid.
''Too little, too late,'' Goodrich said. ''I'm proud of the effort, but it's only one game either way.
''We have resilient kids and we'll bounce back and get ready for Bellaire.''