Marcellious Williamson set a tone that Aboubacar Barry and the rest of the Moline football team picked up and ran with Friday night.
Williamson returned an interception 23 yards for first points of a 49-0 rout of United Township at Browning Field, a late-first quarter score that sparked the Maroons to a 397-yard rushing performance led by Barry.
The sophomore rushed for 147 yards on seven carries, reaching the end zone on runs of 15, 79 and 37 yards in the Western Big Six opener for both teams.
“It took us awhile to get going, but the offensive line did a good job of opening some good holes that made it all work,’’ Barry said.
The teams traded early possessions before Moline fumbled the ball away at the Panthers’ 13-yard line late in the first quarter. Three plays later Williamson stepped in front of a Bobby Neal pass and returned it for the pick six that seemed to spark the Maroons.
“Our defense stepped up and made a big play that seemed to settle us down offensively,’’ Moline coach Mike Morrissey said. “After Williamson ran that one back, we started to play our game.’’
The Maroons piled up 28 points in the second quarter, breaking the game open with three touchdowns in a little over four-and-a-half minutes late in the half to open a 35-0 lead by the break.
The Maroons were already leading 14-0 when Barry found a seam on the left side, slipped through the hole created by a couple of blocks and raced 79 yards down the left sideline for the first of his two touchdowns in the second quarter.
“I saw the hole, was able to bust through and then all I saw was the end zone,’’ Barry said.
His score with 5:28 remaining in the half came before an unintentional onside kick caught UT – and Moline for that matter – a bit by surprise.
“Our thoughts were to kick it away from (Neicko) Williams, he’s such a talent, but that one didn’t go quite as planned,’’ Morrissey said.
Things still worked out for the Maroons. Brady Stombough recovered the kick and seven plays later, Eddie Doran scored on a seven-yard carry.
UT quarterback Bobby Neal was intercepted by Eli Suastegui on the first snap of the ensuing possession and following his 15-yard return, the Maroons had the ball back at the UT 36-yard line. Barry finished off a 112-yard first-half effort with an 18-yard touchdown run with :56 remaining.
“Things snowballed on us there in the second quarter,’’ UT coach Jim DuPage said. “We didn’t execute well, made some mistakes, and that’s what happens.’’
The Maroons (2-2, 1-0 Western Big Six) totaled 488 yards of offense, with Eric Maffie and Treyton Lamphier combining to complete 8-of-12 passes for 91 yards including an 18-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter from Maffie to Javon Foy, who recorded five receptions for 56 yards.
Moline forced a running clock midway through the third quarter following Barry’s 37-yard touchdown run, an effort followed by a 70-yard carry for a score by Immanuel Bailey just over two minutes into the final quarter.
The Maroons limited the Panthers (1-3, 0-1) to 93 total yards, holding Williams to six yards on seven carries.