Alder falls for second consecutive week
By Chris Miles
The Jonathan Alder football team was whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty before the opening kickoff of its Week 7 tilt with visiting Dayton Thurgood Marshall Friday and it was all down there from there.
The pregame senior night festivities ran long and the hometown Pioneers (3-4) were assessed the 15-yard penalty before a single second ticked off the game clock. Being late turned out to be a common theme for the Pioneers all night as they fell in disappointing fashion 52-14.
The Cougars (6-1) were a step faster all night long, at the same time the Pioneers offense was anemic as quarterback Andy Fooce struggled to make the right decisions under center in a timely matter, turning the ball over on four of Alder’s five first-half possessions.
“We started the game with a penalty and it never got better, that’s never a good sign,” Pioneers coach Steve Coate said.
Fooce had one fumble and threw three interceptions against the ballhawking Cougars in the game’s first 24 minutes. It was a senior night the signal caller would like to forget. He was 0 for 8 passing and his team had less than 50 yards of total offense through three quarters.
The Alder offense definitely had its share of struggles, but the team’s defense once again had a hard time corralling a collection of swift-footed, ridiculously elusive Marshall ballcarriers.
Marshall’s Vijante Copeland (149 total yards) opened the scoring with a 58-yard scoring run less than two minutes into the game. The advantage ballooned to 14-0 after Fooce’s fumble set the visitors up in Pioneers territory. Denzell Norvell (215 yards) then out-sprinted the Pioneers defenders to the end zone on a 51-yard run.
“They’re a very good team, definitely well coached,” Coate said of the Cougars.
After another Alder turnover, an interception by Marshall’s Steven Dorsey at the Pioneers 35-yard line, the Cougars (6-1) finished off the drive with a 1-yard run by Norvell, his second of three first half scores.
Marshall quarterback Ja’Mahl Manley connected on a 30-yard scoring strike to Copeland and Norvell plunged in from a 1-yard out with just six seconds remaining in the half for a commanding 33-0 halftime advantage.
“When you only run 10 plays in the first half, you can only make 10 mistakes,” Coate said.
Alder recovered a Cougars fumble early in the second half at the Marshall 18-yard line, but was unable to advance it any further and eventually turned it over on downs.
Gerry Green caught a third-down touchdown pass from Manley in the third quarter to make it 40-0, while DeAngelo Worthy gutted the Alder defense for 32-yard scoring run a few minutes later. Copeland zipped his way into the end zone on a 43-yard run to make the Cougars lead 52-0.
The longest play of the night for Alder came on a 35-yard run by Fooce in the fourth quarter. He immediately found Brad Miller in the end zone for a 25-yard scoring strike to bring the home team to within 45 points at 52-7.
The Pioneers scored again with just under 5:00 to play when Casey Gunter crossed the goaline on a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line.
“We’re struggling with blocking and tackling,” the Alder coach said. “Those are things we have to get fixed.”
The game had been a crucial one for the Pioneers fleeting state playoff hopes. After qualifying 11 straight years for the postseason, it appears Alder may finally be on the outside looking in.
The Pioneers have a bye week next Friday and will miss out on a chance to pick up any state playoff points. They will return to action Oct. 19 at Marion Harding and will then close out the season Oct. 26 at Bishop Watterson.
“We need the time to see where we stand and see what our options are,” Coate said of the bye week coming in Week 8. “It’ll also give us a chance to get healthy.”