Del Sol’s Chris Marshall didn’t have much trouble last year as he cruised to 1,751 yards on the ground.
In the first half of the Dragons’ season opener at Rancho, the prolific back was held to 27 yards on seven carries.
After the break, he looked more like his former self.
Marshall ran for 179 yards and two key third-quarter touchdowns as Del Sol (1-0) pulled away from the host Rams (0-1), 40-22 on Friday.
“He’s one of those guys who comes around every 10 years,” Del Sol coach Preston Goroff said of Marshall.
Marshall, the top rusher in the area last year, broke loose in the second half as Del Sol clung to a 17-16 lead. The senior back sprinted up the left sideline for a 65-yard scoring run on its first play of the third quarter, broke a tackle near the 35 and gave the Dragons a 24-16 lead.
After Del Sol’s Ben Littlefield recovered a fumble at the Rancho 47, Marshall scored five plays later on a 15-yard run to increase the lead to 31-16 with 4:52 left in the third.
The Rams’ Will Gosse-Gardet, who threw for 172 yards and two scores and ran for another, pulled Rancho to within 31-22 on a 4-yard TD strike to Alvaro Vasquez early in the fourth quarter. It was Vasquez’ second TD reception of the game.
But Del Sol’s Nathan Kirschbaum, who threw for 197 yards and three touchdowns, hit Lael Perkins on a 20-yard scoring pass to regain control. Marshall had runs of 21 and 16 yards on the drive.
After he appeared to have nowhere to go on a run toward the right side on Del Sol’s next possession, Marshall reversed field and gained 46 yards with the aid of a block by Kirschbaum.
The run set up a 27-yard field goal by Dylan Lindeman with 3:27 left to close out the scoring.
“Eventually, Chris got going in the second half,” Goroff said. “He’s dangerous.”
Marshall also had punts of 54 and 45 yards in the first quarter.
Lindeman hit a school-record 52-yard field goal late in the second quarter to give Del Sol a 17-16 lead. His low, line-drive kick hit the crossbar and bounced through the uprights.
After Kirschbaum gave the Dragons a 14-0 lead on touchdown passes to Perkins and Raheem Jones, Rancho scored 16 points in 18 seconds to take a 16-14 lead.
Vasquez made a diving 18-yard TD catch and Gosse-Gardet ran for the two point conversion with 6:05 left in the second quarter.
After Rancho recovered an onside kick, Gosse-Gardet scored on a 1-yard keeper, then hit Joel Fluhrer on the conversion pass with 5:47 left in the half.
“The kids did fight back,” Rancho coach Elvin Dick said. “I knew they would. But we should have had more success. I feel that we can score 40 points a game. But we didn’t do our fundamentals right.”
Cody Hafen led Rancho with 132 yards rushing. Jones caught three passes for 111 yards.