A melee-marred City League-South Division game came to an ugly end Oct. 18 with the Walnut Ridge football team being awarded a 33-6 win at Marion-Franklin.
With 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Marion-Franklin’s Jesse Johnson caught a short pass from quarterback Jeramiah Tucker and was tackled on his sideline. Johnson came up swinging and a fight — the second of the quarter — ensued. Line judge Mike Kreemer was kicked and stomped during the episode and was transported by ambulance out of the stadium with apparent head and neck injuries.
The game was immediately called by officials.
“It’s just unfortunate to see a good game marred by behavior like this,” Walnut Ridge coach Byron Mattox said. “I can’t say too much about what happened, but Marion-Franklin just didn’t control their sideline and this sort of thing happened. I just hope the official is OK. This is just a terrible finish to a game. I’ve never seen anything happen like this.”
Marion-Franklin players and coaches left the field immediately after the incident and police came on to the scene.
Walnut Ridge (8-0, 5-0) dominated the game from the outset, with its defense taking center stage. The Scots more than likely sewed up a spot in the Division II playoffs with the win.
“We’ve got one of the best defenses in the area, and we proved that again tonight,” Mattox said. “Our message all week was to keep their quarterback under control and not let him make plays out of the pocket.”
Linebacker Marshawn Mankins had a fantastic game for Walnut Ridge, forcing an interception and making four tackles for loss.
“He played a great game,” Mattox said. “He plays very smart, relentless football and does his job very well.”
Walnut Ridge flexed its muscles from the outset.
On the opening series, Scots quarterback Howard Thornton hit Kaveon Ross down the seam for 27 yards. On the next play, Javarus Leach raced 63 yards to the end zone.
Marion-Franklin (5-3, 4-1) imploded on its first possession. Mankins clobbered Jeramiah Tucker as he tried to unload a pass, and Antonio Tucker came up with the interception.
It took just two plays for Leach to score again on a 3-yard run.
After a great punt return by William Felts, Walnut Ridge got a short field and took advantage. On third-and-17, Thornton found Ross on a 20-yard TD strike. It was 21-0.
Midway through the second quarter, Leach left the game with a sprained ankle. His replacement, Sihlas Padmore, scored on a 13-yard run to make it 27-0.
The Red Devils finally got on the board in the opening minute of the second half on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Tucker to Johnson. The point-after kick failed.
Thornton capped a long drive with a 2-yard TD run. The two-point conversion play failed.
A first skirmish occurred midway through the third quarter after a 25-yard pass from Tucker to Johnson, who was tackled late out of bounds. After several minutes of chaos, a personal foul and three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties were called. Although it appeared that two players threw punches, neither was ejected.
“That’s where the problems started,” Mattox said. “Nothing was done then and things only got worse.”
==========Team 1 2 3 4 Final WALNUT RIDGE 21 6 6 0 33 MARION-FRANKLIN
0 0 6 0 6