Austin Packers football team blanks Rochester John Marshall 30-0 in home opener Friday night

The Austin Packers football team played host to the Rochester John Marshall Rockets for their 2022 home opener at rainy Art Hass Stadium Friday night, and in a Big Southeast District Red Division matchup, it was the Packers dominating in all three phases of the game from start to finish as they registered their first shutout since blanking Albert Lea 47-0 on October 16th, 2020 by winning 30-0.

Austin won the opening coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving John Marshall the ball at their own 20 after a touchback to start the game.  Senior Keondre Bryant,  one of JM’s top offensive players ran for a first down on the first play from scrimmage, but from there, the Packer defense forced a punt after the next three plays, giving Austin the ball at their own 33.  On the sixth play of the drive on 3rd and 13 from their own 44, quarterback Jack Lang found junior wide receiver Peyton Ransom in-stride for a 56-yard touchdown pass, and Joe Ewing’s extra point put Austin in front,  7-0.

The Packers seized the momentum with the touchdown and did not relinquish it moving forward, as again starting at their own 20, the Rockets were forced to punt after four plays and starting offensive left tackle and defensive tackle Mason Callahan came off the right end of Austin’s punt return team to block JM punter Caden Ngoun’s kick, and he then recovered the blocked punt at the Rocket 5-yard line.  A holding penalty on the ensuing drive set the Packers back, but Ewing was able to boot a 30-yard field goal to put Austin ahead, 10-0.

The game moved into the second quarter and saw the teams exchange punts, with a punt by Ewing pinning John Marshall on their own 10-yard line.  Both teams then started playing giveaway as on the fourth play of the drive, Keondre Bryant fumbled, and the ball was recovered by Austin at the JM 20.  The Packers, though, on the first play of the next drive fumbled the ball right back to John Marshall, with the Rockets recovering at their own 17.  The bizzard sequence was then capped off on the very next play when Rockets quarterback Darius Jordan fired a pass over the middle that was taken away from a Rockets wide receiver by Austin’s Isaac Osgood at the 20, and he tallied the second pick-6 in as many weeks for the Packer defense, giving Austin a 16-0 lead after the extra point was blocked.

The two teams traded punts after each went three-and-out, and it was John Marshall taking over at their own 35 late in the first half.  The Austin defense was again stout, and the Packers forced a punt after four plays.  The adventures for the John Marshall punt team continued when the snap sailed well over the head of Ngoun, and the ball bounced into the end zone, where it was recovered by Dakota Retterath before dribbling out of the back of the end zone for a Packer touchdown and a 23-0 lead at the half.

Austin started the second half with the ball at the John Marshall 43-yard line after a personal foul penalty on the Rockets on the kickoff, but the JM defense forced a turnover on downs, giving their offense the ball at their own 34.  The Packer defense continued to shut the door, however, and they forced a three-and-out, giving the Austin offense the ball at their 39.  The bizzare nature of the game at times surfaced again on the drive as on the seventh play from the John Marshall 46, Lang stood tall against a JM blitz and fired a strike over the middle to wide receiver Manny Guy, who made the catch just inside the 30-yard line and then sprinted toward the end zone.  Guy reached for the left front pylon in the end zone at the end of the run, but the JM defense forced a fumble in the process, and the ball bounced out of the end zone for an apparent touchback and John Marshall’s football at the 20.  But, back upfield, one of many flags in the game was thrown in the Packer backfield as JM was called for a 15-yard personal foul penalty for a blow to the head of Lang, giving Austin a first down at the John Marshall 30-yard line.  Two plays later, running back Tommy Fritz took a handoff, broke two arm tackles and sprinted into the end zone from 28 yards out an a 30-0 Austin lead.

Austin wound up scoring 16 points off of five John Marshall turnovers, and they wound up +2 in the giveaway/takeaway ratio in the penalty-filled contest, which saw Austin flagged 10 times for an unofficial 85 yards, and John Marshall flagged 13 times for an unofficial 115 yards.

With the win, the Packers move to 1-1 on the season, and their next game will be in New Prague, who is also 1-1 after falling to Mankato West 49-14 Friday night.  Kickoff will be next Friday night at 7:00 p.m., and you’ll hear the game on AM 1480 KAUS, with the Austin Packers pre-game show set to start at 6:30 p.m.