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This time, Century settles it by halftime

Panthers lead 34-0 en route to 40-7 victory over JM

By Pat Ruff

pruff@postbulletin.com

No need for last-second dramatics from the Rochester Century football team this time.

That’s because the Panthers did all the work that was necessary in the first half of their showdown game with Rochester John Marshall on Friday, on JM’s homecoming.

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Century took advantage of JM in just about every way imaginable in those first 24 minutes, building a 34-point lead en route to a shocking rout of the Rockets, 40-7.

It was a contest that had so much riding on it, including the winner landing in the driver’s seat to win the Big Nine Conference title. JM entered 3-1 in the league, while Century was the only team without a conference loss, at 4-0.

Now, with Century being a huge favorite next week against Albert Lea, followed by it ending its regular season against Rochester Mayo (3-2 Big Nine), the Big Nine title is almost certainly Century’s. Even if they lose one of their two remaining games, they’ll still win the league crown.

And to think the Panthers were coming off a game in which they trailed 20-0 against middling Faribault, before coming back to win 29-28.

There would be no second-half scrambling for Century on Friday. That’s because it used the first half to scramble JM.

The Panthers did it with first-half disparities that read like this:

Yards rushing — Century 124, JM 43.

Yards passing — Century 43, JM 34.

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Turnovers — Century none, JM three.

First downs — Century six, JM two.

"I could tell from the look in their eyes that our guys were ready to play just as soon as they got off the bus today," Century coach Jon Vik said. "All week, our focus was on starting strong against JM."

They didn’t just start strong, they started with a series of haymakers. Making problems even worse for the Rockets, was, well, themselves. They began the game by providing Century a big assist. On the first play from scrimmage, JM halfback Tyler Brody coughed up the ball at the Rockets’ own 16-yard line.

It was a tone-setter. Two plays later, the man who JM feared most — speedy halfback Leon Clark, the guy who rushed for 264 yards against it last year — was sprinting into the end zone from 20 yards out (Century was hit with a penalty just before).

It was one of four touchdowns for Clark on the day, two of them JM spirit-crushing sprints of 48 and 66 yards.

JM, which had done such a terrific job of stifling Mayo dazzling halfback Mario Butler two weeks before in recording an upset win, had no such luck against Clark. The senior, running as hard as Vik has seen him run, finished with 184 yards rushing.

"Leon is the real deal," JM coach Jack Drews said. "He ran hard, and when you have the dimension of speed that he’s got, it makes him awfully good."

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JM had a plan against Clark and Century. It was to keep the ball in its own hands, with long, sustained drives done mostly on the ground. It had worked in beating high-powered Mayo and Mankato West the past two weeks.

But against a Panthers defense that was as stout as JM had seen all year — especially up front with the Panthers’ all-senior defensive line of noseguard Alex Plunkett, and ends Ryan Moertel and Nick Asay — those plans fell through. The Rockets managed just 92 rushing yards.

CENTURY 40, JM7

SCORING BY QUARTERS

Century 14 20 6 0 — 40

John Marshall 0 0 0 7 — 7

FIRST QUARTER

C — Leon Clark 20 run (Michael Bowman kick), 11:11.

Drive: 2 plays, 16 yards, :20.

C — Clark 48 run (Bowman kick), 9:24.

Drive: 1 play, :10, 48 yards.

SECOND QUARTER

C — Matt Madden 4 run (Bowman kick), 9:20.

Drive: 13 plays, 58 yards, 6:01. Key play: JM pass interference on fourth down.

C — Clark 2 run (Bowman kick), 3:34.

Drive: 8 plays, 34 yards, 3:07. Key play: Clark 12 run on fourth down.

C — Tyler Lamb 9 pass from Madden (kick failed), :50.

Drive: 1 play, 12 yards, :9.

THIRD QUARTER

C — Clark 66 run (kick failed), 5:35.

Drive: 1 play, 11 seconds, 66 yards.

FOURTH QUARTER

JM — Drew Meyer 1 run (Taylor Giordano kick), 4:33.

Drive: 8 plays, 45 yards, 3:55. Key play: Ben Kall 17 run on fourth down.

C JM

First downs 9 9

Total scrimmage yards 285 151

Total yards rushing 230 92

Total yards passing 55 59

Passes attempted 14 10

Passes completed 4 5

Passes had intercepted 0 1

Number of punts 3 4

Average punt distance 33 36.3

Fumbles/fumbles lost 1/0 2/1

Number of penalties 8 4

Yards penalized 66 50

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing

Century — Leon Clark 15-184, Matt Madden 9-18, Eric Christianson 7-14, Jared Malone 1-9, Carson Fossum 3-5. John Marshall — Drew Meyer 13-59, Ben Kall 6-30, Jordan Rishavy 1-7, Tyler Brody 7-4, Joel Schauder 11-(minus 8), Nate Polansky 1-0.

Passing

Century — Madden 4 completions, 14 attempts, 0 interceptions, 1 touchdown for 55 yards; Kurtis Haider 0-0-0-0 0 yards. John Marshall — Joel Schauder 5-10-1-0 59.

Receiving

Century — Ryan Moertel 1-19, Malone 1-12, Tyler Lamb 1-12, Zeeshan Haq 1-12. John Marshall — Andrew Roble 5-59.

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