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Bragging rights earned
Marysville beats Lindhurst 42-19
When he saw his teammate on the turf in pain, Francisco Garcia knew he would be playing a role he didn't expect to on Friday night.
On Lindhurst High's first drive at War Memorial Stadium, Marysville's sophomore free safety Aaron Birch, who doubles as the Indians' starting quarterback, had to leave the game with a concussion. Coach Cullen Meyer didn't even hesitate to call Garcia's name as a replacement.
"If there's one kid that I can just say 'Hey, you're going in at quarterback' to, I know it's (Garcia)," Meyer said. "I had full confidence that we wouldn't skip a beat there."
It was solid intuition by the former A-D All-Area Coach of the Year.
Garcia guided the Indians' triple-option offense to a 42-19 Battle of the Bell victory over rival Lindhurst as he rushed for a game-high 162 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns.
Lindurst still leads the all-time series 21-19.
Birch missed some time earlier this season as well with a shoulder injury which forced Garcia into action. Jumping into the pilot's seat of this offense is no easy task with the numerous reads the quarterback has to make.
"I was kind of nervous," Garcia said. "I knew I had to step up, be a leader and lead our team to victory. It was really shocking; I didn't know what to expect."
It took a while for the Marysville (2-6, 2-1) offense to start clicking as the Indians fumbled on their first two possessions. The Indians' defense held strong and blocked a Lindhurst 25-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter.
Marysville broke through in the second quarter on a 7-yard touchdown run by Dante Shaver, which was set up by Garcia's 31-yard run on a keeper.
The ensuing kickoff was botched by Lindhurst and recovered by Marysville's Jacob Garrett. The Indians' offense drove 62 yards, culminating in a 3-yard rushing score by Juan Briseno to extend the lead to 12-0.
Lindhurst (1-7, 1-2) responded with a 68-yard touchdown drive as quarterback Tim Endicott threw a laser touchdown pass to Logan Springfield from 38 yards out.
Garcia and the Indians answered right back as the junior rushed 32 yards for a score right before halftime.
"It was tough to learn this offense," Garcia said. "It started in the spring, I had to train my eyes to make the reads."
He made an excellent read in the third quarter when he faked a fullback dive and tucked the ball away to score from 58 yards out, which extended the Indians' lead to 42-19.
Marysville opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 62-yard drive. Briseno rushed in from 7 yards for his second touchdown to make the score 28-7. Overall, Briseno totaled 109 yards on 18 carries.
Endicott and the Blazers showed some fight as the right-hander hooked up with Springfield again, this time from 33 yards out to cut the Indians' lead to 28-13.
Defensively, the Blazers didn't have an answer for Garcia and Co. as Marysville scored on its ensuing possession. Daniel Duncan found the end zone from 5 yards out.
Lindhurst's offense continued to show resiliency. Following Duncan's TD run for Marysville, Endicott threw his third touchdown pass, a 10-yard strike to Zach Kitchen.
Lindhurst committed 11 penalties, including an illegal block-in-the-back that negated a 65-yard kickoff return touchdown by Springfield in the third quarter.
"We'll come out and get better next week," Lindhurst coach Jason Neiber said. "This is a good group of kids. They work hard day in and day out."
Marysville was able to overcome its turnover woes on Friday, a problem Meyer said has been plaguing his team the entire season.
The Indians had three fumbles and will need to clean that up for next Friday's critical matchup at Dixon. The winner likely earns the No. 2 playoff spot out of the Golden Empire League.
"The playoffs start for us right now," Meyer said. "Come Monday, we're in playoff mode. That's the way we have to look at it."