RACHEL -- After a lackluster performance in recent weeks, North Marion wasn't raising a lot of eyebrows heading into the Class AAA playoffs.
Friday's victory over George Washington, however, should serve as a wake-up call for the rest of the state.
The eighth-seeded Huskies controlled the play at the line of scrimmage and tossed a defensive gem as they moved into the second round of the postseason with a one-sided 26-6 dismantling of the No. 9 Patriots at Husky Field. It was North's first playoff victory since 1997, the season of their most recent state crown.
"This is a big win at a big time for us," said North coach Gerry White. "I thought that our defensive play early set the tone for the ball game. We knew that (George Washington) was tough up front so it was a matter of us pressing them and finding some weaknesses."
On this night, the Patriots turned the ball over eight times, but none was as big as the first -- a mishap that put North Marion ahead for good.
Deep in their own territory and punting for the first time, the Patriots had the kick blocked by Tyler Hixenbaugh and Nick Parrish recovered for North's first points.
Defensively, the Huskies (9-2) would not budge, giving up just 158 total yards on the night and GW turned the ball over three times in the game's first 10 minutes. The third turnover would prove as costly as George Washington coughed up the ball in its own end zone and Drew Ramsey was there to give North a 12-0 lead.
The most dramatic the game would be following that miscue was when the Patriots managed to narrow the margin to 12-6 early in the second quarter on a 2-yard run by Cortez Lacy. Still, GW would not find a consistent answer to the Huskies' balanced ground attack which combined for 202 yards.
"It's the first time for any of our guys in the playoffs," said NM running back Mike Potoczny who finished with 106 yards rushing and two touchdowns and also intercepted two passes. "It was definitely a big win.
"We knew that we had to control the line of scrimmage and play good defense," Potoczny added.
A steady dose of Potoczny and fullback Ryan May, who added 81 yards on the ground, proved too much for the Patriots, who were plagued by the turnovers and a lacking in the time of possession department. North ran 75 plays to George Washington's 49.
"The key was to win the battle on both sides of the football and also have our special teams play a big role," added White. "I'm definitely real proud of how hard the kids have worked recently and prepared for this game."
White knows what likely lies ahead -- a date with top-ranked and defending Class AAA champion Morgantown at Pony Lewis Field. The Mohigans play No. 16 Lewis County today. The Huskies nearly managed to knock off MHS in this season's earlier matchup.
n UNIVERSITY 14, Musselman 9: Craig Verbosky scored on a 1-yard run and Jay Forsythe caught a 25-yard scoring pass from Eric Bacaj to lead No. 3 University past No. 14 Musselman in a Class AAA playoff opener.