John Marshall Clinches Playoff Berth for First Time Since 2007

Monarchs pound Mohigans into submission

Photo by Alex Kozlowski John Marshall running back Dereck Hess is gobbled up by a host of Morgantown defenders Friday in Moundsville. The Monarchs won, 21-10, to clinch their first playoff birth since 2007.

MOUNDSVILLE — Logan Holgorsen was lying face down on the cold Monarch Stadium grass late in the fourth quarter, the victim of a vicious sack by Devin Norris. A better indication of how the night unfolded likely could never be found.

John Marshall battered the Mohigans into submission to present Coach Rick Goodrich with perhaps the greatest birthday present of his lifetime. It was the type of virtuoso performance that hasn’t happened on this particular sod in a decade.

Nick Coulter bruised his way to a pair of touchdowns on the ground and caught a third as the Monarchs (7-2) rolled to a 21-10 victory against the Mohigans (4-5) on Friday night in a game that was nowhere as close as the score indicates. Most importantly, it clinched the program’s first West Virginia Class AAA playoff berth since 2007.

”I told the kids congratulations and they have made the playoffs and they’re winners, but let’s not end it here,” Goodrich said. ”We’ve got a big one in two weeks against (Wheeling) Park and we can’t lose our focus.

”You couldn’t ask for a better performance with the way our offensive line took charge in the second half.”

Actually, both the offensive and defensive lines took over. John Marshall racked up 120 of its 219 rushing yards in the second half, while the defense limited the Mohigans to 32 yards and one first down. All told, Morgantown was held to 122 total yards on just 26 plays. For comparison sake, the Monarchs ran 57 times.

”They beat us on the offensive and defensive lines … they were extremely physical,” Mohigans coach Matt Lacy said. ”We tried to throw the ball there a little bit and they were in our face all night.

”There were times our linebackers were getting blocked 10, 15 yards down the field.

”Give them all the credit for taking it to us.”

How dominant were the Monarchs? Consider that Alajuan Robinson broke around the left end and went 37 yards for a touchdown to put the Mohigans up 7-0 at 9:52 of the second quarter. He finished with seven carries and 39 yards.

”We preach (physicality) every day. That’s the way we practice, that is the way we work in the weight room and that is the way we prepare,” Goodrich said. ”We’re not going to out-wit anybody and do anything fancy.

”The fact is, you look at the people we beat and it hasn’t been great. It’s good to get a signature win against a program like this because I am sure there was still doubters.

”I think we answered some questions and opened some eyes.”

John Marshall answered just before the half. Taking over at the Morgantown 47, it took 12 plays before quarterback Jordan Wood found Coulter in the left-corner of the back of the end zone with 7.7 seconds left. He leaped over a defender to pull it in, but the 2-point conversion pass was intercepted. The Mohigans went into the locker room staggered and on the ropes, but somehow holding a 7-6 lead.

The teams traded punts to begin the second half before the Monarchs took the lead for good. They marched 79 yards in 14 plays, culminating in an intimidating, 8-yard Coulter run in which he met the Mohigans’ top defender, Cole Streyle, in the hole and bounced off before running over two more would-be tacklers for a score. He then swept right for a 2-point conversion and a 14-7 lead.

”He’s just a different element than (Dereck) Hess, who is obviously a slasher and can break it,” Goodrich said of Coulter. ”Nick’s just a bruiser.

”We’re happy to have him, for sure.”

At that point John Marshall had imposed its will, forcing Lacy to burn a timeout midway through the drive just so the Mohigans could get a break. The Monarchs converted three third-down conversions on the march and finished 9 of 14 overall.

”They had held onto the ball for so long and we were getting beat up,” Lacy said. ”They were driving and driving and we had some guys who were going both ways that needed a timeout.

”John Marshall was taking it to us and our guys were tired and beat up.”

The Mohigans quickly moved down the field and had a first-and-goal at the JM 9 following a 33-yard hookup between Holgorsen and Jayron Wilson. However, the Monarchs defense stiffened and forced a 29-yard John McConnell field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 14-10.

After each team punted, Morgantown took over at its 21 with 4:47 to go. Holgorsen, who finished 3 of 10 for 43 yards and carried five times for minus-18, was dropped by Hunter Temple for a 6-yard sack on first down and then intercepted by Justin Frohnapel on the next snap. The sophomore picked the ball off at the 41 and returned it to the Mohigans 25 before sliding down. Four plays later Chas McCool barreled into the end zone from 14 yards out to set off a celebration that was 10 years in the making.

Hess, a Kennedy Award candidate, picked up 89 yards on 23 carries before leaving in the third quarter with an ankle injury. It isn’t deemed serious and he should benefit from next week’s bye.

The victory proved quite the reversal from a season ago when Morgantown handed JM a 60-0 setback.

”Our seniors and our leaders took it upon themselves that it wasn’t going to happen again,” Goodrich said. ”We knew that if we wanted to get to the next level we needed to do this.

”I think this program has turned the corner and I hope our kids feed off this.”

John Marshall 21, Morgantown 10

Morgantown 0 7 0 3 — 10

John Marshall 0 6 8 7 — 21

M — Robinson 37 run (McConnell kick), 9:52

J — Coulter 15 pass from Wood (pass failed), 7.7

J — Coulter 8 run (Coulter run), 2:12

M — McConnell 29 FG, 11:54

J — McCool 14 run (Feil kick), 2:27

Rushing: Morgantown 26-79-td (Ja.Moore 12-44, Robinson 7-39-td, Wilson 2-14, Holgorsen 5-(-18). John Marshall 57-219-2td (Hess 23-89, McCool 8-47-td, Coulter 15-39-td, Ba.Williams 6-26, Wood 3-20, Team 2-(-2).

Passing: Morgantown 3-10-43-x (all by Holgorsen). John Marshall 5-13-78-td-x (all by Wood).

Receiving: Morgantown 3-43 (Wilson 2-34, Je.Moore 1-9). John Marshall 5-78-td (Bishop 1-31, Coulter 1-15-td, McCool 1-14, Ba.Williams 1-9, Frohnapfel 1-9).

First Downs: Morgantown 4, John Marshall 19.

Penalties: Morgantown 3-20, John Marshall 3-30.

Fumbles: Morgantown 1-1, John Marshall 1-0.