Blue Streaks beat undefeated Pioneers, move to No. 9 in the country

Kyle Kelly, Sports Editor

It was Oct. 20 at Don Shula Stadium and the ball sat on the Marietta Pioneers’ 13-yard line with 8:35 remaining in the game, in the hands of junior quarterback Anthony Moeglin. In the backfield to Moeglin’s left was sophomore Mike Canganelli, to his right was freshman Devin Limerick. The Blue Streaks were down 24-14 with the entire season in their hands.

Senior Chris Clemens snapped the ball to Moeglin, and he handed the ball off to Limerick for the first time that day. Limerick danced around the Pioneer defenders, diving into the end zone for a touchdown. Because of Limerick’s touchdown, John Carroll cut their deficit to three points against undefeated Marietta.

Being down by three points did not phase the Blue Streaks. Just 3:14 later, Moeglin cued up Limerick once again. This time around, Limerick cut to the inside and dashed nine yards into the end zone for another touchdown. For the first time all day, at the end of the game, JCU held the lead as the scoreboard showed 27-24 in favor of the Blue Streaks.

Although the Blue and Gold had the guts and glory to pull through at the end, the road to victory was not easy.The Blue Streaks have been magnificent at home this season, but for the first time at Don Shula Stadium in 2018 the opposing team scored first on JCU’s home turf.

Marietta came into the match 5-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference, sitting atop the conference as a shareholder of first place with Mount Union. The Pioneers wasted no time proving that they came to play ball.

The Blue Streaks defense came away with a stop on the first drive, but on the second drive the same would not stand true. Three plays over the course of 1:11 was all it took for the Pioneers’ lightning to strike. At the 9:02 mark in the first quarter, Marietta maintained a 7-0 lead.

In the first half, the Pioneers mastered time of possession. Marietta held possession of the ball for over 20 minutes, leaving JCU with little opportunity to score. On the final drive of first quarter and opening drive of the second quarter, the Pioneers combined to run 20 plays in 8:56. The drive ended in a field goal.

As Marietta held the 10-0 advantage to start the contest, the Blue Streaks worked to respond quickly — and they did just that on the ensuing drive. Moeglin took control of the offense, with a 25-yard pass play to junior Evan Nugent, 19-yard pass connection to senior Eddie Williamson, a 22-yard pass linkage with sophomore J.J. Olivera and a 29-yard deep ball to junior Darrin Davis. As a result of Moeglin’s and a strong supporting cast of receivers’ efforts, Canganelli was able to rush for a one-yard touchdown, making the score 10-7, still in favor of the Pioneers.

On the next offensive drive, the Blue and Gold set out to score more points. It was time for the Canganelli show this time around. The sophomore running back ran for 45 yards on four carries, capping the drive off with a touchdown. The Blue Streaks led 14-10 with 2:34 remaining in the opening half.

In real time, two and a half minutes may not seem like much, but in football it can often be a lifetime. During that timespan the Pioneers traveled 75 yards, ending the half in an exciting fashion. Senior quarterback Darren Fields found junior Ryan Van Meter for a 27-yard touchdown as time expired. Marietta stunned the stadium, taking a 17-14 lead into the halftime.

To start the second half, the Blue Streaks went three-and-out on offense. Considering JCU was down at the half for the first time all season, the Blue Streaks clearly needed a spark.

At 3:05 p.m. lightning would strike, causing a 30-minute weather delay. It appeared that this weather delay came in favor of the Blue Streaks. JCU outscored the Pioneers 14-7 following the weather delay, sprinting to the locker room after the game with a hard-fought victory.

With the win, the Blue Streaks improve to 6-1 on the season, with a conference record of 5-1. Wilmington is next up, as the Blue and Gold are set to play the Fighting Quakers on Oct. 27.