By Joe Sengewalt
For the Times West Virginian
It took just 19 seconds for Preston’s Josiah Nuse to make a big impact for his team against visiting North Marion here Friday night in the annual “Buckwheat Bowl.”
And the Knights’ junior running back never stopped impacting the game.
Nuse, who turned in a spectacular individual effort against the Huskies, returned the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to give his team the lead for good en route to a 41-14 victory.
The win, Preston’s second in a row, improved the Knights to 2-3 overall and to 2-2 in the Big 10 Conference. North Marion, on the other hand, fell to 0-5 overall and to 0-4 in the league.
Nuse, a 5-7, 152-pounder, finished the contest with an astounding 413 all-purpose yards on just 10 touches of the football. He rushed for a career-high 277 yards and four touchdowns on just seven carries – an average 39.6 yards per attempt. He also returned two punts for 43 yards and had the opening kickoff return for 93 yards and a score.
In the second half Nuse touched the football just twice and scored on both of those with TD runs of 77 and 74 yards.
“We’re getting real good at making people state players of the week I guess,” said a disappointed North coach Daran Hays. “What did he have seven carries for like 280 yards – that’s like 40 yards a carry. He had five touchdowns on like 10 touches. We made him look really good.
“He’s a good back and he has a lot of speed, but that’s what happens when you don’t execute fundamentals. I told the guys we go over form tackling for like a half an hour in every defensive practice and all during two-a-days, and when we get here in the games nothing carries over. We were leaving our feet and arm tackling, and when you get against a kid like that who has speed and some strength you’re not going to bring him down. We’re going to have a hard time doing anything until we learn to tackle.”
Preston rolled to a 29-0 lead midway through the second quarter before North Marion finally got on the board with just 1:28 left in the first half on a seven-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Andrew Harker to tailback Ryan Elliott.
The Knights, who are coached by North Marion alumnus Jon Tennant, who was a starting guard on the Huskies’ 1981 Class AAA state championship team, extended their lead to 41-6 on their first two possessions of the second half thanks to the long TD runs by Nuse.
The Huskies’ final touchdown came on a 29-yard run by Elliott late in the third quarter. Elliott, who accounted for both of his team’s scores, led North Marion with 121 yards rushing on 23 carries.
Harker, meanwhile, completed 6-of-14 passes for 58 yards and one TD. The Huskies finished with 238 yards of total offense.
“It takes a lot of mental maturity and mental toughness to establish the type of long scoring drives that we need to have,” said Hays. “We don’t have a lot of speed, so in order for us to score we’re going to have to establish some long drives. A big play for us is like 20 yards. A big play for them is whatever you want to make it. They had several big plays tonight against us.”
Preston, which rolled up 429 total yards against North’s porous defense, executed four plays in the game of over 66 yards. None of Preston’s five scoring drives in the game lasted longer than four plays.
Knights’ quarterback Scott Stone finished 3-of-7 passing for 84 yards and one touchdown – a 66-yarder to Levi Nolan. He was also intercepted once by North’s Logan Merrifield.
North Marion will attempt to bounce back Friday when it entertains country rival East Fairmont in a 7:30 p.m. game at Husky Field. The Bees will bring a 1-3 record into that contest. Preston, meanwhile, will seek its third straight win when it travels to Hedgesville the same night.