With a healthy Corry Benson and an offense beginning to resemble the one that averaged 42.5 points in the playoffs a year ago, the Marion-Franklin High School football team began the postseason with a 46-14 victory over visiting and previously undefeated Licking Heights on Nov. 2.
The third-seeded Red Devils, who won their second Division II, Region 7 title a year ago and will play seventh-seeded Canal Winchester in a Region 7 semifinal Nov. 9, scored 20 points in both the second and third quarters.
Benson, who missed nearly half the regular season with injuries to both shoulders, was 26-for-30 passing for 366 yards with two touchdowns while adding 111 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 15 carries.
The Red Devils improved to 10-1. Licking Heights finished 10-1.
“My therapy has been going great and I’ve been getting my arm strength back,” Benson said. “We know what we have to do. We have to find our guys and make plays.”
Benson fumbled to end the opening drive but had few other missteps.
With 8 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second quarter, Benson scored on a 3-yard run.
The Red Devils then drove 87 yards in 11 plays to make it 12-0 with 2:28 to go before halftime as Benson hit Joe Alverson for a 1-yard touchdown pass.
The Hornets cut it to 12-7 on a 42-yard run by Kendall Bradley with 1:07 to go before halftime, but Marion-Franklin moved 74 yards in six plays to score again before halftime. Benson hit Darien Williams for a 32-yard reception to move the Red Devils to the Licking Heights 3 and then ran in on the next play with 9 seconds to go in the second quarter.
“We made some mistakes and they have a lot of great athletes,” Licking Heights coach Darren Waters said. “We could have been better in all three areas.”
In the third quarter, Benson ran for touchdowns of 49 and 1 yard and Alverson scored on a 13-yard run to make it 40-6.
Alverson had 10 catches for 126 yards and rushed for 44 yards and one touchdown. Williams had seven catches for 114 yards and Jaron Dukes added five catches for 66 yards and one touchdown.
Bradley had 83 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries to lead Licking Heights.
“We do have a lot of weapons and we did a lot of things tonight,” Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele said. “I think the difference was our defense.”
MF--Benson 3 run (pass failed)
MF--Alverson 1 pass from Benson (pass failed)
LH--Bradley 42 run (kick failed)
MF--Benson 3 run (Benson run)
MF--Benson 49 run (Thomas kick)
MF--Benson 1 run (Thomas kick)
MF--Alverson 13 run (kick blocked)
MF--Dukes 21 pass from Benson (run failed)
LH--Bradley 5 run (Bradley run)