PEDRO, Ohio — It took a while to warm up, but once the Marauders got going, there was no slowing them down.
The Meigs football team trailed non-conference host Rock Hill by an 8-0 count 16 minutes into Friday’s bout in Lawrence County, but the Maroon and Gold found the end zone seven times after that en route to the 44-28 victory.
The Redmen (0-2) broke the scoreless tie 3:20 into the second quarter, as Hayden Harper capped off a 62-yard 11-play drive from two yards out. RHHS was successful on the two-point conversion pass for the 8-0 lead.
The Marauders (1-1) responded in just 1:23, with Coulter Cleland completing a six-yard touchdown pass to Wyatt Hoover at the end of a six-play, 44-yard drive. MHS failed its two-point pass, however, and still trailed by two.
The Maroon and Gold were in front for the first time with 3:30 left in the half, as Landon Acree returned an RHHS punt 63 yards for the touchdown. Caleb Burnem made his first of two point-after kicks to give the guests a 13-8 advantage.
Meigs got the ball back with 1:41 to go in the half and 70 yards to paydirt. The Marauders needed just three plays to go ahead 19-8, with Cam Burnem catching a 40-yard touchdown pass from Cleland.
The Redmen cut their deficit back to one score, at 19-14, on the opening drive of the second half, as Brayden Friend scored from one-yard out.
The Marauders got those six points back on their ensuing drive, with Cleland tossing a 27-yard pass to Abe Lundy with 7:39 left in the third.
Meigs was ahead 31-14 by the end of the third quarter, as Lundy scored on a four-yard run at the end of a seven-play, 66-yard drive.
Rock Hill kept hope alive, moving to within 11 points with 10:56 left in regulation, as Harper scored on a one-yard run.
The Marauders went 54 yards in five plays on their next possession, with Cleland scoring on a two-yard run to give the guests a 38-20 advantage.
RHHS trimmed its deficit to 10 with 4:26 to play, with Hunter Massie scoring from one-yard out. However, Meigs slammed the door just 22 seconds later, as Cleland capped off the 44-28 victory with a four-yard touchdown run.
Rock Hill claimed a 19-to-17 edge in first downs, but Meigs held a 405-to-302 advantage in total offense, including 180-to-50 through the air. MHS committed the game’s only turnover and was penalized four times for 20 yards, while RHHS was sent back three times for 25 yards.
Cleland — who carried the ball seven times for 39 yards and two touchdowns — was 10-of-19 passing for 180 yards and three scores for the Maroon and Gold.
Jake McElroy led the Marauder ground attack, gaining 130 yards on 10 carries, while catching one pass for eight yards. Lundy combined 56 yards and a touchdown on nine carries with one 27-yard touchdown catch.
In addition to his punt return for a touchdown, Acree led the Marauder receiving unit with three grabs for 51 yards. Cam Burnem had two catches for 68 yards and a touchdown, Hoover added 15 yards and a touchdown on two grabs, while Wes Metzger caught one pass for 11 yards.
Friend — who was 2-of-5 passing for 31 yards, — carried the ball a dozen times for a team-best 90 yards, with one touchdown for the Redmen, while also hauling in a 19-yard pass. Logan Hankins had 82 yards on 17 carries and two receptions for 31 yards in the setback.
Meigs is now a perfect 3-0 in all-time meetings with the Redmen.
Next for the Marauders, a trip to Warren on Friday.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.