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Western turns attention to rest of season after shocking and lopsided loss to Marshall

 By Mike Moore
Staff Writer

 Parma – The opportunity was the program’s third 3-0 start to a season ever, a ticket halfway punched to a playoff berth.

That was the plan for the Western football team entering Friday night’s home tilt with Marshall.

Reality dealt a cold and harsh blow to all that when a 14-6 battle turned into a 41-13 nightmare.

“It’s a tough loss. Things kind of avalanched on us in the second half,” Western coach Dave Mifsud said after the loss. “I don’t think that half exemplifies the kind of team we are. Mistakes really crushed our hopes. They’re a good team and they took advantage of it.”

Western owned the ball and the first quarter.

In two drives the Panthers possessed the ball for more than nine minutes and took a 6-0 lead when Austin Cooper scored on a 1-yard run with just 1:39 to play in the opening frame.

It was downhill from there, though.

Marshall scored on the first play of the second quarter when Forrest Jackson scampered 45 yards.

The teams traded chances and possessions before Brad Heidenreich hit Chris Thomas with a fade route and a 31-yard touchdown pass with just 33 seconds to play in the first half.

The first four-plus minutes of the third quarter were more of the same, back and forth, chances coming and going. But Marshall threatened deep in Western’s territory before fumbling away a chance to score.

But the Panthers fumbled on the ensuing play and Sean Kent recovered the ball in the end zone for a 21-6 lead.

On Western’s next offensive play, another fumble led to another Jackson touchdown run, this time from 29 yards out.

The speedy Marshall back added two more scores in the quarter, from 45 and 15 yards out, and the route was officially on.

“When things kind of avalanched on us, he was very opportunistic,” Mifsud said of Jackson. “We stopped executing and stopped playing as tough on defense. You can’t do that against a great player.”

Jackson’s fourth score put the running clock into play.

Fortress halted that with 1:28 to play on a 2-yard run.

“We have to put this behind us and learn from it and go compete,” Mifsud said. “We’re 2-1. The season’s not over. It’s disappointing, but the season’s not over.”

Jackson finished with 261 yards on 19 carries.

Cooper completed 8-of-13 passes for 109 yards. He also rushed for 45 yards on 17 carries.

Marshall, now 2-1 on the season, takes on Coldwater (3-0) next weekend.

Quite the tribute

nine 11 twoWhen the clock read 9:11 to play in the first quarter, the game, played 14 years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was halted and both teams left the field.

At that time, military members, firefighters and police officers were honored in front of the standing-room only crowd, presented on the field and given a lengthy standing ovation.

“What was so cool to was to see the firefighters and the policemen and all that. I had chills,” Mifsud said. “It was a great community thing, and I was honored we got to be a part of it.”


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