With something of a sheepish grin, Marion-Franklin High School quarterback Corry Benson disavowed any credit for helping successfully execute what the Red Devils call the “Sudden Change Play.”
It came one play after the tide turned Friday, Oct. 21, against Eastmoor Academy and helped re-establish the City League-South Division’s pecking order — if there ever was any doubt.
On the heels of an onside kick following Marion-Franklin’s first touchdown, Benson threw to Jaron Dukes in the left flat, who tossed the ball to a speeding Joe Alverson, who ran the rest of the way for a 41-yard touchdown.
It was the second touchdown in a span of 70 seconds for the Red Devils, who scored all their points in the second quarter of a 30-20 victory as they improved to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in the City-South.
“That’s just how it happened,” said Benson, who began the barrage with a 2-yard touchdown run. “You can’t predict everything that’s gonna happen in a game. We just came out tonight and we were going to leave it all on the field.”
Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele couldn’t deflect credit fast enough.
“The kids actually call the play,” he said. “They said ‘run it’ and I said ‘OK.’ Everybody’s coming up and congratulating me on it. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
The Red Devils wrapped up their eighth consecutive league title and won their eighth consecutive game against the Warriors, who fell to 7-2 overall and 5-1 in the league. Eastmoor’s last win in the series came in 2003.
Eastmoor quarterback Aaron Valdez had a 21-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Crosby in the final minute of the first quarter, but Marion-Franklin took an 8-7 lead on Benson’s touchdown run and his two-point conversion. Wanting to nick the Warriors’ jugular early, Haffele set his mind on an onside kick.
“That’s exactly what we wanted to do,” he said. “If we see a chance for a big play, we’re going to go for it.”
Eastmoor coach Jim Miranda wasn’t so sure at first.
“I don’t know how intentional it was. They were just trying to keep in on the ground and our guys didn’t handle it well,” he said. “It was surprising for the kids. They saw most of their kids peel back and one staying up there. … We had to limit their big plays and we didn’t do a good job of that in the first half.”
Leo Smith intercepted Valdez on the first play after Alverson’s score, and two plays later Benson threw a 41-yard score to Dukes to make it 24-7.
“I got in my drop, I saw (Valdez) and my eyes got big,” Smith said. “We took this game as a huge challenge. We know they have a strong offense and it was up to us to stop it. That’s on our coaches. Coach Haffele always pushes on us and if it weren’t for that we wouldn’t be so good.”
Eastmoor got within 24-14 on its next series on Valdez’s 24-yard touchdown pass to Davonte Butler, but Marion-Franklin answered with a minute left in the first half when Benson tossed a 7-yard score to Alverson.
Benson was 10 of 19 passing for 192 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Alverson caught three passes for 56 yards. Valdez finished 17-for-31 for 219 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.
Eastmoor still had a chance when Valdez scored from 4 yards with 2:05 left to make it 30-20, but Marion-Franklin sealed the win when Smith made a 26-yard completion to Deshawn Thorpe on a fake punt in the final minute.
EASTMOOR 7 7 0 6 -- 20
MARION-FRANKLIN 0 30 0 0 -- 30
E--Crosby 21 pass from Valdez (Booker kick)
MF--Benson 2 run (Benson run)
MF--Alverson 41 pass from Dukes (Benson run)
MF--Dukes 41 pass from Benson (Alverson pass from Benson)
E--Butler 14 pass from Valdez (Booker kick)
MF--Alverson 7 pass from Benson (run failed)
E--Hudson 4 pass from Valdez (pass failed)