Quarterback Corry Benson rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns and completed 12 of 20 passes for 133 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Marion-Franklin High School football team to a 44-14 victory over Canal Winchester in a Division II, Region 7 semifinal Nov. 9 at Hamilton Township.
Wide receiver Darien Williams also had a big game, catching six passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns, as the Red Devils improved to 11-1 and advanced to the regional final to face New Albany on Friday, Nov. 16, at a site to be determined.
Canal Winchester, which rushed for only 69 yards on 45 attempts and was held to 173 total yards, finished 9-3.
“We had a lot of screw-ups on offense, but I thought our defense played well the whole way,” Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele said. “They threw us off a little bit by switching to a Wildcat offense in the second half, but we adjusted to it pretty well.”
Canal Winchester had three turnovers, had a punt blocked and were stopped on a fake punt attempt.
“We just made too many stupid mistakes to win this game,” Indians coach Shawn Hinkle said. “Marion-Franklin did some things to cause some of our mistakes, but a lot of them were self-inflicted. You can’t give up 22 points off turnovers and expect to win a game like this.”
On the first play from scrimmage, Marion-Franklin's Joe Alverson, who has seen time at wide receiver, running back and quarterback, took a handoff from Benson, ran toward the right sideline and passed to Williams for a 55-yard touchdown. Benson then ran in the two-point conversion attempt, giving the Red Devils an 8-0 lead.
Canal Winchester's Khari Golden intercepted Benson at the Marion-Franklin 40-yard line and returned the ball to the 15, setting up a 15-yard touchdown run by Zach Bontempo on the next play to cut the Indians' deficit to 8-7.
However, Marion-Franklin's Austin Dent blocked a punt and recovered the ball at the Indians’ 3 with 31.1 seconds left in the second quarter, setting up a 1-yard touchdown pass from Benson to Williams to give Marion-Franklin a 15-8 lead at halftime.
“That blocked punt at the end of the first half was big for us because it helped us survive a poor first half,” Haffele said.
The Red Devils extended their lead to 22-7 midway through the third quarter, when Benson tossed an 8-yard touchdown pass to Williams.
The Indians responded with an eight-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that was capped by a 4-yard run by Jaquan Ransome to cut their deficit to 22-14 with 2:48 left in the third quarter. But the Red Devils pulled away in the fourth quarter, as Benson scored on runs of 3 and 73 yards and threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jaron Dukes.
“When our quarterback scored on that long run, it got our team pumped up and we took over from there,” Alverson said.
Marion-Franklin also defeated Canal Winchester during the regular season, winning 28-3 on Sept. 7.
MF--Williams 55 pass from Alverson (Benson run)
CW--Bontempo 15 run (Ising kick)
MF--Williams 1 pass from Benson (Thomas kick)
MF--Alverson 8 pass from Benson (Thomas kick)
CW--Ransome 4 run (Ising kick)
MF--Benson 3 run (kick blocked)
MF--Benson 73 run (Alverson run)
MF--Dukes 23 pass from Benson (Yeartie pass from Benson)