By Joe Sengewalt
Times West Virginian
RACHEL — Lewis County continued its recent impressive play, recording its fifth consecutive victory with an easy 34-7 victory over North Marion, on a damp, chilly Friday night at Husky Field.
With the victory, the Minutemen move to 5-1 and 3-0 in the Big 10, while the Huskies fall to 1-6 (1-5).
The game started ignominiously for the Huskies as Lewis County’s two-way senior standout Skylar Carlton scooped up a Ryan Elliott fumble on the first play from scrimmage and scampered 25 yards for a Minuteman touchdown.
“It seems like we are the kings of slow starts,” said North head coach Daran Hays. “We’ve done that to ourselves all season. We have given up a score on the opening possession every game this year.”
Things didn’t get much better for North in the first half as it turned the ball over again on its second possession, leading to a second Lewis County score on a one-yard plunge by junior fullback Ryan Carson.
The Huskies also endured three first-half three-and-outs and found themselves facing an insurmountable 28-0 deficit midway through the second quarter.
Lewis County dominated the first half, outgaining North 224-59 yards in total offense, and scored touchdowns on three of four first-half possessions.
Junior running back Mark Metzgar led the way with 79 first-half yards en route to 142-yard night on 20 carries, and recording a rushing touchdown in each half. Carlton’s sparkling night included 6-for-6 passing for 109 yards and an interception on defense to go with the aforementioned fumble recovery for a touchdown.
Sophomore Damien White chipped in with 43 yards on six carries, including a nifty 17-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
North Marion’s only score of the game came late in the third quarter on a darting 22-yard touchdown run through traffic by senior fullback J.J. Rogers on fourth-and one.
The score capped off a six-play, 57-yard drive by the Huskies, after a blocked field goal attempt by Riley Gunter was returned 14 yards by junior linebacker Tyler Arnett.
The drive featured runs of 15 and 11 yards by senior tailback Austin Stanley, who led North on the ground with 70 yards on 15 carries.
The game marked another dismal performance from the Husky passing attack, as North would complete only one of 11 pass attempts for three yards on the night, and was intercepted twice.
“They covered us well and sniffed out our screens, but we have to execute better,” said Hays. “Our receivers couldn’t get open and when they did, the throws weren’t there. We couldn’t protect the passer either; they are just going to come at us with their ears pinned back if we can’t run the ball.”
Despite outscoring Lewis 7-6 in the second half, the Huskies were still outgained decisively on the night, 402-156 in total yards from scrimmage.
“We need to have the mental toughness to put together 10- to 15-play drives,” said Hays. “Despite what we did last week, we just do not have big-play capability. We were not able to execute tonight when we needed to on third down.”
Things do not get any easier for North Marion next Friday as they travel to Clarksburg to take on 4-3 Robert C. Byrd in Big 10 action, while Lewis County makes the trek to 5-1 Oak Hill on the same night.