After missing one play in Heidelberg’s longest drive of the game Saturday at Don Drumm Stadium, Marietta cornerback Jaelon Querio-Gordon was hoping the Student Princes would throw the ball his way again.
Heidelberg quarterback Gavin Reineke had just completed a 27-yard pass to Cole Poorman that slipped away from Kiero-Gordon to get the Student Princes into Pioneer territory. On the very next play, Reineke went straight back to Purman. This time, though, when the ball fell into Poorman’s hands, Ceiro-Gordon was there to snap it away, and he took it 55 yards to the house for a pick-six.
This play was a perfect encapsulation of what was another dominant performance by Marietta, who earned a 37-14 homecoming win. The Pioneers improved to 5-2 overall and 4-2 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
“I had to make up for the last game,” said Quiero-Gordon, who now has a team-high three interceptions this season. “I missed a tackle. I was like, “Hey, let me go get one.” The ball was in my hands when he was going down. I said, “I’ve got to go score.”
Marietta forced five turnovers on the day, including four on interceptions, and they set the tone early.
Heidelberg’s opening drive ended with a Harley Hopkins interception that led to a 28-yard Derek Klein field goal that gave Marietta a 3-0 lead.
The Pioneers made it 24-0 at halftime thanks to three touchdown passes by Connor Vierstra — 23 yards to John Sierputowski, 2 yards to Derek Wittsberger and 5 yards to Dre Baldwin.
“We got off to a fast start,” said Vierstra, who finished 21 of 27 passing for 303 yards. “The defense was pressing all aspects. So was the insult. We played great in the first half. It went down in the second half but we were able to keep it alive and win the game in the end.”
Marietta picked up right where it left off to start the second half thanks to strong play from Kiero-Gordon.
“We went out and executed” I want to, said Gordon. “Credit to Heidelberg’s offense. They gave us some problems in the second half, but overall we stepped up defensively.”
Defensively, OC Nurse also had a pick, while Chance Knight, Mahleek Melton and Jake Visnic all had sacks for MC, which finally scored at 10:25 in the third quarter when Montavious Yearby rushed in from 12 yards out to cut to 30-7.
Yearby, one of the OAC’s top running backs, had 71 yards on 17 carries. Reineke completed 13 for 22 passes for 136 yards and threw four picks. Backup Lance Rickle went 7-for-11 for 86 yards and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Matthew Drudul late in the game.
After Yearby’s score, the Student Princes went three-and-out to force Marietta into its first punt of the game. But just when Heidelberg thought it had some momentum, the punt was dropped and rebounded by Marietta’s Anthony Sabatino.
Both offenses traded one-play punts that led to turnovers as Vierstra was sacked by Key Cunningham before Reineke’s pass was intercepted by Blade Barkley.
In the fourth quarter, Sierputowski caught his second touchdown of the game, an 18-yarder on Vierstra’s fourth TD pass to make it a 30-point game.
MC junior Dawson Snyder, one of the best wideouts in the league, missed the game with an injury. Marietta had other guys step up in his absence, as Baldwin was Vierstra’s top target with 96 yards on seven catches, while Serputowski added 79 yards on six receptions.
“When it comes to receivers, we have a very, very deep receiver core,” Vierstra said. “It sucks not having Dawson, but it allows other people to go out there and make plays. Dre had a great game today. He was getting away.
Marietta won despite gaining just 17 rushing yards on the day. An efficient passing attack and ball-hungry defense made up for it.
“Our team played hard. I just have to go 1-0 every week,” I want to, said Gordon.
“Extremely proud. We’re trying to build a culture here. We’re trying to turn the program into a new era, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
Marietta has come through the toughest part of its schedule and sits in third place in the conference. Every week is tough in the OAC — Marietta still has visits to Ohio Northern and Capital on the schedule before closing out the regular season at home with Muskingum — but if the Pioneers can win, they’ll have their first eight-win season since 1995. .
“We have a chance to tie the best record in school history,” Vierstra said. “We take it game by game. We take every game seriously every week. It doesn’t matter who we play.”
Head coach Andy Waddle had his say on the competition.
“Heidelberg is a good team and they have a good defence. It was tough sledding in the run today.” he said. “Connor (Vierstra) had a pretty high completion percentage and threw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and Bryce (Agnew) got some tough yards, but we still had some mistakes.
“Defensively, we managed five turnovers and a goal. We continued to pressure their quarterback. I thought the defense did a good job. Harley (Hopkins) made a big interception early in the game and Jaylon (Quiero-Gordon) intercepted and scored.”
Contact Jordan Holland at [email protected].