Big 4th carries Colts
Marian scores 41 points in last quarter in rout
HOMETOWN — Plagued by penalties and missed opportunities, Marian trailed neighboring rival Panther Valley 12-7 heading to the fourth quarter of Friday night’s Schuylkill League Division II contest.
Believe it or not, the Colts were just getting started.
Marian treated its fans to a most bizarre fourth quarter — one they have probably never seen in the storied history of the program — to turn a tight game into an unbelievable runaway.
The Colts exploded for 41 — yes 41 — points over the game’s final nine-plus minutes on way to a 48-12 victory that had everyone at Men of Marian Stadium shaking their heads in disbelief.
“No, I’ve never seen anything like that,” stated Seth Paluck, who started the fourth-quarter onslaught with the first of his two touchdowns. “It’s a great rivalry, and we just pulled it together in the second half.”
“I’m just proud of my kids. They played a full 48 minutes,” added first-year head coach Pat Morgans, whose team snapped a four-game slide and beat the rival Panthers for a seventh straight time in the series.
Marian went to the locker room clinging to a 7-6 lead after a first half that featured as many penalty yards (94 combined) as yards from scrimmage.
“We talked about having to eliminate our penalties and we had to execute,” Morgans said of his halftime speech. “We told them the plays were there, we just made a couple adjustments and we just had to hang tough for 48 minutes, finish the game strong.”
The Colts did just that, but it took a little while.
Panther Valley took the second-half kickoff and drove 68 yards in nine plays, and took its first lead of the game at 12-7 on Tanner Kennedy’s 2-yard plunge.
Later in the quarter, the Colts were stopped on fourth down from the Panthers’ 22 to come away empty yet again. And with 3:08 left in the third, the Colts appeared in trouble.
But after the Marian defense forced a three-andout, the offense finally started to find itself. Paluck’s fake punt for a 21-yard gain got the momentum going the Colts’ way. He later scored on fourth-and-goal from just outside the 1-yard line to put Marian back on top 14-12 with 9:02 to play.
“That was huge,” Morgans said of Paluck’s touchdown. “He started the ball rolling last week with two kickoff returns for touchdowns, and he just continued it today. The kid continues to make plays and he carried us on his shoulders.”
As the rain started to come down on Stan Dakosty Field, the floodgates started to open as well.
Paluck intercepted a pass near the sideline and returned it to the Panther Valley 15, setting up the Colts’ next score. Although Paluck fumbled going into the end zone, offensive lineman Zack Falls was there to pounce on it for the touchdown with 6:10 on the clock.
Two plays later, Max Nolter intercepted a pass at the Panthers’ 22 and returned it all the way for another defensive score, and the lead was now 28-12 with 5:47 remaining.
Following another threeand-out series by the Panthers, the Colts took over at the Panther Valley 28 after a short punt. Paluck did the rest, taking a second-down handoff and going the remaining 25 yards for the score and a 35-12 lead with 2:24 still left.
On the very next play from scrimmage, Falls stepped in front of a pass at the 25 and returned it untouched to the end zone for another touchdown, making it 42-12.
“What Seth is to the skill kids is what Zack is to our linemen. He makes huge plays too,” Morgans said.
Marian running back Seth Paluck picks up yardage during the Colts’ victory over Panther Valley in a Schuylkill League Division II football game Friday night at Stan Dakosty Field at Men of Marian Stadium. The Colts won 48-12.