Polk County's Mackus Simpson finds room to run in the second half of Friday's game

MARSHALL – A steady first-half rain Friday did little to slow Polk County’s offense, and Madison’s defense didn’t offer a lot of resistance, either.

The Wolverines scored on each of their first eight possessions, triggering a running clock for the second straight game. This one ended in a 53-7 Polk County victory in the Western Highlands Conference opener for both squads.

That makes 102 points in the last two games for the Wolverines (2-1, 1-0), the first time that has happened since 2013. Sophomore Angus Weaver did his part Friday to contribute to that total, scoring five touchdowns, all in the first half, four of those on the ground and one on a pass reception just before halftime. The four rushing touchdowns and five total touchdowns were both one short of matching school records.

Weaver’s receiving touchdown 43 seconds before halftime gave Polk a 39-0 lead at the break, and the Wolverines quickly scored twice more in the third period. That’s the type of performance head coach Bruce Ollis wanted to see against a winless Madison squad (0-3, 0-1) to set the tone for the WHC race ahead.

“It’s nice to be 1-0 in the conference,” Ollis said. “It’s another team win where a lot of people contributed. It was a big win.”

Polk County also reestablished its running game, something the Wolverines will need over the next four weeks in conference play. Weaver rushed for 197 yards on 11 carries to lead a Polk ground game that amassed 340 yards and averaged more than 10 yards per attempt. Madison, meanwhile, finished with -35 yards rushing, the second lowest total ever allowed by a Wolverine defense.

“Probably for the first time all year, we dominated the line of scrimmage,” Ollis said. “That gives us great confidence. Our offensive line is also doing an incredible job protecting Casey (Beiler) when we throw the ball.”

Madison (0-3, 0-1) quickly fell behind 14-0 as Weaver scored on a 14-yard run to cap Polk’s first drive and then raced 51 yards for a score on the first play of the Wolverines’ second possession. The Patriots then began putting together perhaps their best drive of the night, but that stalled when quarterback Caden Hilemon suffered a knee injury while being sacked by Polk’s Clint Deyton.

Polk County head coach Bruce Ollis celebrates a Wolverine defensive play (Jane Ollis photo)

Taking over at their 45 after that Madison possession, the Wolverines drove to the Madison 36, where they faced a fourth-and-18. Polk lined up with five receivers, but with Weaver at quarterback. He took the deep snap and slipped through the center of the Madison defense and into the end zone, with Matias Akers’ extra point giving Polk a 21-0 lead with 11:46 left in the second period.

Polk’s next drive ended with four Gage McSwain carries, the last a 3-yard scoring plunge. A Madison fumble set up a Weaver 33-yard touchdown run before the Wolverines got their final possession of the half with 1:05 remaining. Beiler fired a 38-yard pass to Keaundrae Green, who made a juggling catch while battling a defender, and then tossed a short swing pass to Weaver, who took that 28 yards to the end zone, giving Polk its 39-0 halftime edge.

The only negatives in the half for Polk came on special teams, with three extra points blocked and a fumbled punt.

“It was a weird first half,” Ollis said. “We’re up 39-zip and we’ve got three extra points blocked. We fixed that at halftime. I don’t mean to focus on the negative, but the bottom line is I tell our players that in close games, men, those are crucial points. We’re going to get that shored up, I promise you.”

Polk drove 80 yards in eight plays with the first possession of the third quarter, capped by Mackus Simpson’s 1-yard touchdown, then turned another Madison fumble into its final points, those coming on a Beiler 16-yard pass to Shane Parris.

Madison notched its only score midway through the final period.

McSwain finished with 80 yards on eight carries, with Simpson rushing for 61 yards on 12 carries. Beiler was 6-of-13 for 127 yards and two touchdowns, with Green catching three passes for 54 yards.

“A lot of people contributed,” Ollis said. “Basically, we had our underclassmen line out there blocking for Gage (in the fourth quarter).

“It was great to see Shane get a touchdown and Marcus get some carries. Those guys, now we know they can do it on Friday night.”

The conference schedule will only grow tougher for the next four weeks, with Owen coming to G.M. Tennant Stadium next week. The Warhorses suffered a 42-14 loss to Mitchell on Friday.

“We know the road gets tougher. There’s no doubt about that,” Oliis said. “It’s great to win on the road, and you’ve got to be able to do that to be considered to be somebody to win a conference title.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge of being back home and playing what’s a good Owen football team.”