With a tough Lumberton squad visiting, the West Marion Trojans protected their home turf Friday night with a convincing 36-13 victory to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
Trojans head coach Brad Duncan said he saw just about everything he wanted to out of his team in the decisive win.
“The kids played better than they did Week 1, and that’s what you need to do each week. They kind of stepped up a little bit,” he said. “The defense was lights out again. (Lumberton) was run oriented, and our little guys got after them pretty good.”
West Marion plays host to East Marion Friday night at 7 at Trojan Field in the much-anticipated rematch of last year’s 14-12 Trojans victory that came down to the final play.
West Marion came out rolling on its opening possession against Lumberton as Jeremiah Holmes connected with Octavious Harvey for a touchdown to take a 7-0 lead. Lumberton answered a few possessions later as quarterback Rodney Parker found pay dirt to knot the game up.
Trojans junior running back Jartavious “Tater Rabbit” Martin started a run of 16 unanswered points with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone, and Brian Blakeney added his second PAT to make it 14-7. Harvey scored for his second time of the game, a 1-yard run, following a Lumberton punt, but the Trojans failed the two-point conversion try. Just before halftime, though, Blakeney connected on a 34-yard field goal as time expired to give the Trojans a 23-7 lead.
Lumberton came out of the break strong, however, as Panthers star running back Robert Henry reeled off a 72-yard run inside the Trojans’ 10 then capped off the drive with a 2-yard score to make it 23-13. Then West Marion was forced to punt, and Lumberton had a chance to make it a one-score game.
However, senior cornerback Ott Mitchell changed the tide of the game by picking off a pass that set up a 76-yard touchdown from Jayden Duncan to O’Marion Husband. West Marion missed the extra point but carried a much more comfortable 16-poind lead going into the final quarter.
“We’ve got to do a better job being focused coming out of halftime,” Duncan said. “I tried to tell them Friday night Lumberton was going to come back out and play hard because they have a lot of pride. We have to match that intensity, and I’m not sure that we did. But defensively we were able to get a stop with the interception, then we were able to get a big pass to score.”
Duncan added it’s not just coming out of halftime that the Trojans need to improve but also to start the game as they had a bad snap on the first play of the game. He said with the opponents West Marion has coming up it needs to be sharp the entire game.
West Marion added its third rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 25-yarder by Martin, that ballooned the final score to 36-13.
“I was proud of the offensive line again,” Duncan said. “Our offensive player of the week was Cooper Foxworth, who plays guard for us, and he did good. All of them — Josh Ham, Cooper Foxworth, Blaten Norris, Teddy (Williams), Cade Heurtin — did really well. We didn’t have the rushing yardage we did the week before, but we still had 214.”
Duncan said that while it was in limited attempts, Holmes and Duncan combined to complete 80 percent of their passes with two touchdowns. The Trojans have mixed up their personnel and formations frequently throughout the first two weeks to keep defenses guessing, and Duncan said they are going to continue change it up so that opponents won’t pick up on any tendencies.
“We’ve been real careful not to give stuff away when certain people are in certain positions, but I’m sure that we are,” he said. “I’m sure (opponents) will be scouting that so we’re going to sit down and self-scout to make sure we’re not giving that away when we move Jayden, Jeremiah, Jordyn (Mahaffey) or Blake (Lowery) around. It’s been a benefit for us these first couple of games.”
Pictured Above: West Marion running back Octavious Harvey, who had a rushing touchdown, receiving touchdown and five tackles against Lumberton, beats the Panthers to the corner. West Marion is set to host rival East Marion Friday. | Photo by Susan Amundson