Typically, the running game is used to control the clock and sustain long scoring drives. Unless you have a game-breaker like Brookfield Central senior running back Marcus Crum.
It was Crum’s 69-yard touchdown against visiting Marquette on Friday night that sparked the Lancers' eventual 24-0 victory. Crum’s scamper down the left sideline was the first touchdown of the night and put the Lancers up 10-0 with 1:57 left in the first half. Once Crum found the edge, it was a foot race, and there aren’t many players who can keep pace with him.
“My line did a great job of blocking,” said Crum, who finished with 172 yards on 13 carries. “I just found a hole and once I hit it, I just took it to the house.”
Complementing Crum’s strong performance was 5-foot-11, 202-pound junior running back Demario Harris, who rushed 27 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
“Demario Harris gets stronger as the game goes on,” Lancers head coach Jamie Meulemans said. “The more carries he gets, he gets better. He could carry the ball 30 times a game. Marcus Crum brings more of that flash. It’s a nice blend with those two back there. It’s the old lightning and thunder combo.”
A combination that left the Hilltoppers in the storm cellar, as Marquette did itself no favors with two turnovers deep in Central territory. Despite bending on several drives, the Lancers defense, led by Wisconsin-bound defensive end Chikwe Obasih’s two sacks, never broke. A fumble set up Crum’s touchdown, and Central junior cornerback Terry Wallen sealed the outcome with an interception in the end zone on third and goal in the fourth quarter. The Lancers responded with a touchdown on the ensuing drive.
“Terry Wallen really stepped up for us,” Meulemans said. “I thought that was a crucial point in the game. It’s only 17-0, and he made a pick, I thought that got our momentum back.”
Marquette head coach Jeffrey Mazurczak agreed.
“Turnovers are huge,” he said. “Unfortunately, those were momentum swingers. We couldn't put together any kind of consistency. We went three or four series of three and outs. Then we give up a field goal. Then we give up a turnover in the red zone, and all of the sudden they’re housin’ one. Offensively we struggled to put together drives. We made some great plays, and we had some great opportunities. We just weren’t sharp on offense, and because of that we struggled to score.”
Central wasted no time rebounding from last week’s 38-21 defeat at the hands of Sussex Hamilton to improve to 2-1 in the Greater Metro Conference and 3-1 overall.
“We didn’t feel we played very well at all last week,” Meulemans said. “I’m very proud of the way they bounced back mentally and physically and came out here to play.”
Meanwhile, Marquette, which had hoped to build off last week’s victory at West Allis Hale, fell to 1-3.
“I didn’t think we were where we needed to be in terms of mental toughness for the first two weeks,” Mazurczak said. “We came through last week and we gathered some steam, so this is a little bit of a setback. We’ve got a lot of good players on this team. We need to start pushing through some of this adversity. Turnovers happen in football games. You have to have a short memory and continue to fight. It’s there, some of these guys just do a good job of covering it up sometimes.”
Next week presents another chance for Central to prove itself when crosstown rival Brookfield East visits. East, which remained undefeated with a win over Wauwatosa East on Friday, is atop the powerful Greater Metro Conference along with Sussex Hamilton.
It’s a challenge the Lancers are more than ready to take on.
“The sky’s the limit for us,” Crum said. “We can be as good as we want to be if we continue to work hard.”
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