Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: 4 turnovers, WR-turned-QB's big game help Arlington overcome 17 penalties in 35-14 win over FM Marcus
FLOWER MOUND — Arlington made a lot of mistakes Friday night, which was to be expected in its season opener. But when the Colts were given opportunities to take control of the game, they took advantage of them.
And there were lots of opportunities.
Arlington, No. 15 in SportsDay’s Class 5A area rankings, intercepted three passes and returned a fumble for a touchdown in a 35-14 victory over Flower Mound Marcus. That opportunism, along with an impressive starting debut by senior quarterback Michael Gray, helped Arlington win its sixth straight season opener.
Gray, who played receiver last season, threw for three touchdowns and ran for one. He passed for 149 yards and rushed for 126 yards, helping Arlington overcome a whopping 17 penalties.
His counterpart, Marcus senior quarterback Cole Erwin, had a very different experience — and not because he threw two first-half interceptions, one of which went off the hands of a Marcus receiver. The night became nightmarish for Erwin, who missed all of last season with an ACL tear in his left knee, when he suffered an injury to his right knee late in the first half.
He was on crutches the rest of the game. Marcus coach Bryan Erwin, Cole’s father, said the injury will be fully evaluated Sunday.
“It’s the LCL [lateral collateral ligament],” Bryan Erwin said. “We hope it’s not the ACL, too.”
Arlington took a 21-14 halftime lead with the help of its defense, which intercepted Marcus passes three times after the Marauders had driven inside the 30-yard line. Gray also started strong, throwing two touchdown passes in the first half and showing off his running ability.
Late in the first half, Gray ran left on a quarterback keeper, was able to turn the corner and looked destined for a long run that would move Arlington inside the Marcus 20. But Gray, cutting to his right about 15 yards from the end zone, faked out the defensive back and ran in for the score.
“I haven’t played quarterback since sophomore year,” Gray said, “and this is a big confidence builder.”
It will be a nice confidence-builder for the entire team, which will be trying to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Arlington went three rounds deep in the playoffs last season and is expected to challenge Arlington Bowie and Arlington Martin for the District 3-5A title.
It was a long night for Marcus (1-1), which opened with a win over Plano West last week and is No. 11 in the area rankings. The drive that best exemplified Marcus’ night came on its first possession of the second half.
Trailing 21-14, the Marauders ran the ball 15 straight times behind their powerful offensive line. Marcus drove to the 2-yard line before facing a fourth down, and its eight-minute drive ended with a 20-yard field goal that was wide left.
The next drive ended when running back John Hutcherson was hit hard on a run near midfield, the ball popped free and Arlington defensive lineman Darron Harris picked it up. Harris, who also had an interception in the first half, returned it 45 yards for a touchdown.
“We just couldn’t get anything going,” Bryan Erwin said. “We had some drives, but we couldn’t finish them off.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.
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