NEWTON TOWNSHIP — Football isn’t everything in life, but it was a football game that brought the story of hope.
The Morgan High School Marching Band lost two fellow band members last Friday on Ohio 37. It was a devastating blow this past week, but the surrounding communities were able to lift up the Raider community, as every school in the area wore green, the color of hope.
But at the end of the day, Maysville and Morgan had to meet on the gridiron, as Chase Roberts’ 103 yards and three touchdowns on eight rushes got the Panthers back on track with a 56-7 win in the Muskingum Valley League on Friday.
“We wanted obviously to get that sour taste out of mouths. We played solid on both sides of the ball.” Maysville coach Craig Clarke said.
The ceremony before the game and the introduction of the Morgan Marching Band gave the Maysville and Morgan fans something to cheer about. The Marching Raiders and a few family members released green balloons in the air as the crowd gave a moment of silence for the lives that were lost. Corey Parlin, the band’s field instructor, has been overwhelmed with support this past week.
“It’s amazing and overwhelming, but we never expected the support from all over,” he said. “If it wasn’t money, it was flowers or something nice. We didn’t expect anything like this to ever happen.”
The first quarter went exactly the way Clarke scripted. Forcing a fourth and long on their own 48, Evan Brown was able to break free from the Raiders (0-7, 0-5) to put the Panthers on the Raiders 7. Two plays later, quarterback Tanner Ashcraft found Roberts on quick out for the first score of the game, as Austin Alice’s extra point put the Panthers up 7-0.
Morgan’s next drive sputtered, and the Panthers (6-1, 5-1) pounced on a short field. Chase Himmelspach scored from 19 yards out to put the Panthers up 14-0 with 3:30 left in the first.
Another three-and-out by the Raiders allowed the Panthers another chance before the end of the first quarter. They needed just one play, as Roberts sprinted 50 yards for the score. Alice drilled the extra point from 21-0 at the end of the first.
Morgan’s inability to move the ball gave the Panthers another short field in the second. Fullback Clay Mercer busted up the middle from the Raiders 28 to extend the lead to 28-0 after an Alice kick.
Ashcraft hit Roberts for a 28-yard touchdown later in the second quarter to extend the lead to 35-0 at the half.
Tristan Murphy added a pair of touchdown runs in the second half and Kaige Rucker scored from 81 yards away in the fourth for the Panthers, while Jerome Mayle had a 1-yard scoring run for the Raiders in the fourth.
Maysville heads to New Concord next week to face the Muskies, who were routed by Tri-Valley Friday.
Clarke knows his team needs a good week with the Scotties visiting in two weeks.
“We need to focus on our offense, we lost fumbles in a close game last week,” Clarke said. “We’ve been able to keep the ball and not turn the ball over. John Glenn plays well at home and their record doesn’t show how much they are improving.”
The two teams also met at the center of the stadium with the two communities, holding hands with strangers and saying a prayer with fellow teammates to help Morgan heal through this process.