By Matthew Peaslee
It wasn’t just a week of redemption for the Poland Bulldogs. There was three years worth.
A 10-3, down-to-the-wire loss in Week 1 to Marlington added to the sour taste of two previous losses in 2011 and 2010.
The Dukes out-scored the Bulldogs, 81-47 in those two games.
So, besides revenge, what was the key in Poland’s 38-0 blowout win over Marlington in the first-round of the Division III playoffs?
On the Bulldogs’ first possession of the game, Anthony Marchionda shook a defender and ran a deep post route that resulted in a 55-yard touchdown pass from Jake Wolfe.
“Coach [Paul] Hulea, our running backs coach, talked me into that,” Poland head coach Mark Brungard admitted. “We haven’t had a lead on Marlington in three years. We had a sense to get up on these guys and see what happens.”
Marchionda knew his number would be called, he just wasn’t sure if it’d be that early.
“Before the game started, we’re in the locker room and coach just said, You have to catch it,” Marchionda said.
“It was basically a threat,” he added with a laugh.
The senior caught two more passes and finished with 69 yards. Wolfe finished with 119 yards, completing 6 of 10 passes.
“You can’t be afraid of things,” Brungard said. “If the route is there and the defense gives it to you, you have to throw it. The kids made great plays.”
Wolfe hit Marchionda for a 9-yard touchdown pass in the closing minute of the second quarter. That put the Bulldogs (8-3) up 24-0.
“We were capable of throwing the ball,” Marchionda said. “Jake played great tonight. That was all on him.”
Junior Ross Gould ran for 114 yards on 22 carries with scoring runs of 15 and seven yards. Mike Turnbull pounded in a one-yard TD to close out the scoring. Marlon Ramirez ran for 60 yards, with a long of 53.
Conner McFadden was 5 for 5 on extra points and kicked a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter.
“They didn’t do anything different,” said Marlington coach Ed Miley. “We knew they were going to run the ball between the tackles and we knew we had to sustain drives and stop the ball. Boy, we didn’t do any of that.”
Defensively, the Bulldogs held the No. 1 seeded Dukes to 98 rushing yards. Michigan recruit Dymonte Thomas recorded just 79 yards. He’ll be a Wolverine defensive back, next year.
Tyler Evan recovered a fumble and Austin Wilson had an interception. Marlington was forced three-and-out four times.