High School Sports

High school football: John Marshall’s ground game over powers Bellefonte

The entire premise of John Marshall’s simple, yet effective offense is to wear down the opposition, and in the words of Coach Rick Goodrich, “strip them of their dignity.”

The Monarchs began to do that during the first half of Friday night’s meeting with Bellefonte at Monarch Stadium, then poured it on after halftime.

Junior Chase Gump ran for what is believed to be a school-record 277 yards on 26 carries as John Marshall (3-1) rolled up 475 on the ground in a 49-20 victory against the Red Raiders (1-3).

Bellefonte shot to a 13-0 lead on the strength of a Monarchs special teams miscue that Nick Jabco turned into a 70-yard punt return for a score, and a 60-yard sprint around left end by Austin Jackson just 5:35 into the contest. The problem is, the Red Raiders ran a total of 16 plays in the first half, compared to 39 for John Marshall.

“(Fatigue) becomes a large part of it,” Bellefonte coach Shannon Manning said. “They’re a big, physical team and we’re not. We rely on speed and when they lean on you for a long duration like that, yeah, absolutely that plays a part.”

Gump was at the forefront of that because all he needed was a sliver. He only scored one touchdown on the ground — a 1-yard run to put the Monarchs ahead for good following a Chase Fisher 8-yard TD run — but managed seven runs of 20 or more yards.

“It’s a team effort all the way around,” said Gump, whose club is basking in its first three-game winning streak in recent memory. “The line gets off the ball and sets it up and I’ve just got to do my part like they do.

“I don’t even have words to explain it. It’s an amazing feeling.”

John Marshall entered halftime with a 20-13 lead after quarterback Noah Martin (4 of 7, 99 yards and two scores) hit Gump out of the backfield with a 7-yard touchdown pass with 28.4 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

There was a time the Monarchs would have settled for that, but not anymore. They opened the second half with a five-play, 62-yard drive that featured a 38-yard Gump run after he looked to be stacked up at the line of scrimmage, only to bounce it outside with the help of an offensive lineman.

Martin finished that one off with a 1-yard sneak, then found Austin Skrzyneki for a 2-pointer to make it 28-13.

“He just keeps moving,” Manning said. “Heás a good, physical runner who doesnát give up on the play.”

After the teams traded punts, Martin executed a beautiful play-action pass to Skrzyneki for a 46-yard score with 2:54 remaining in the third.

“Watching the film, I thought our offensive line would be more physical than theirs,” Goodrich said. “We take pride in that.

“Our backs run hard and block hard and we feel like we can control the line of scrimmage with what we do.”

Jimmy Michelucci gained 59 yards on John Marshall’s next drive, taking it in from the 2. Chriss Purcell broke off a 38-yarder later in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on things.

The Red Raiders received a late, 7-yard touchdown run from Storm Smith.

As impressive as the offense was, the Monarch’s defense, led by the play of senior Scott Kubancik, limited Bellefonte to 220 yards and forced three turnovers.

“(Scott’s) really grown into a great player,” Goodrich said. “He’s physical, heás lanky and heás hard to block.

“He’s matured as football player and he understands the game. The skyás the limit for him.”