MILLEDGEVILLE – Polo needed a spark, and it came in the form of a stellar stiff-arm from Ethan Ditzler.
Ditzler’s 65-yard yard run early in the second quarter shook the Marcos out of a funk and propelled them to a 34-0 victory against Milledgeville on Friday night at Floyd Daub Field.
Polo (2-2, 2-2 NUIC Upstate) had a pair of 3-and-outs its first two possessions, but got things rolling early in the second quarter. Ditzler took a handoff from quarterback Brody Grobe and broke free into the left flat, thanks to a wicked stiff-arm he laid on Missiles defender Blake Kappes.
The play opened the floodgates to what turned out to be a 26-point second quarter. On the ensuing kickoff, Milledgeville’s Garrett Kness fumbled, and it was recovered by Polo’s Ethan Cain.
Six plays later, Brody Grobe hooked up with Brian Cavanaugh on a 25-yard touchdown pass to put the Marcos up 14-0.
“It took us about a quarter to get going,” Polo coach Andrew Hofer said. “Fortunately, we were able to recover later in the game.”
With just under 4 minutes left before halftime, the Missiles fumbled again, setting up the Marcos at the Milledgeville 10. Two plays later, Grobe took it in from 5 yards to up the margin to 20-0.
A botched snap on a Milledgeville punt gave Polo one more opportunity just before halftime, and the Marcos made the most of it in the form of a 1-yard plunge by fullback Jeff Kimpel.
Kimpel also had the lone score of the second half, a 1-yard dive with 3:40 remaining in the third quarter.
Milledgeville (1-3, 1-2) turned the ball over five times, with two lost fumbles and three interceptions from quarterback Jordan Harris. Polo safety Ivan Grogan had two of the picks.
“We talked about that all week, that we’ve got to protect the ball and you can’t give teams short fields,” Milledgeville coach Jason Wroble said. “That makes it hard on ourselves. We’ve got to protect the ball better, and make teams drive the length of the field if they’re going to drive on us.”
Polo finished with 222 yards rushing, with Ditzler (9 rushes, 88 yards) and Kimpel (22 carries, 87 yards) leading the way.
“They were just more physical than us up front,” Wroble said. “It seemed like every time we made a play, the pile was going the wrong direction. They moved the pile a lot, and kept getting a couple extra yards here and there.”
Polo has now defeated Milledgeville five consecutive times, by a combined score of 190-37. Coming off a close loss to the state’s No. 1-ranked Class 1A team in Stockton last week, and with Aquin looming next week, the Marcos had a difficult time getting going.
“After how we beat Milledgeville the past couple of years, we were kind of looking past them a little bit,” AJ Dollmeyer said. “We started looking toward Aquin, which is a really big game, too. It showed we were looking past them, by them battling back, but after they punched us in the mouth a little bit, we came back around.”