Two lousy points.
Marietta College was a two-point conversion away from tying the game late in the fourth quarter and then maybe winning it in overtime.
But John Carroll University was able to come up with a big defensive stop in the end zone to preserve a 37-35 triumph over the Pioneers in an Ohio Athletic Conference football thriller at Don Drumm Stadium Saturday night.
"It was a play that we put in for just this week on the goal line," said MC quarterback Andrew Keller of the two-point conversion attempt. "We're just trying to draw the defense wide and get somebody in the gap."
That somebody was Pioneer receiver Chad Walker, who had previously caught a 26-yard touchdown pass from Keller to cut it to 37-35 with 1:15 remaining in the contest.
After Keller threw the football, JCU sophomore linebacker Matt Feeney batted the throw away from Walker - and the Blue Streaks maintained the two-point advantage.
"They closed the gap," Keller said, "but you've got to put it in there and I just missed it."
Earlier in the stanza, it had worked with Keller connecting for two with Kirby Harris after Tevin Dones ran one yard for a TD.
Two points. It's not very many, but it turned out to be the difference in the football game.
Who would've thought that way back in the first quarter a two-point safety would come back to haunt the Pioneers?
Probably no one.
But prior to the 5:36 mark of the first quarter, Marietta led John Carroll 7-0, courtesy of a 44-yard pass from Keller to Roberts.
On JCU's first offensive possession, the Blue Streaks were forced to punt, and junior Mike Malisheski boomed one, which went out on the left-side coffin corner and was spotted at the MC one-yard line.
The Pioneers were in a big hole, and one play later Jones, after getting a handoff from Keller, was gang tackled in the end zone by multiple JCU defenders for a safety.
"I've got to see that one on tape again," said Marietta head coach Jeff Filkovski of the punt and spot. "It was close.
"That (safety) was obviously the difference in the game. There's a situation there where we've got to be able to get the ball off our end line and run the football - and we end up in our end zone."
Marietta still led 7-2 but the momentum of the game was about to slowly turn as now the Pioneers had to kick from their own 20 to John Carroll, which got the ball at midfield. Good field position, and the Blue Streaks made it pay off by scoring a TD and taking the lead - which it never relinguished.
Marietta hung tough, though, thanks to a very productive passing game. Keller finished with over 400 passing yards and three of his receivers - Walker, Roberts and Harris each had 100-plus receiving yards.
"We've got some guys at those positions," Filkovski said. "And certainly, you know, it's great, but I'd like to get them to run the football a little bit, too."
Just like John Carroll, which ended up with 55 rushes for 363 yards and five touchdowns.
The Blue Streaks only attempted 14 passes in the game.
"We had to do that, run the football," said John Carroll head coach Regis Scafe, "because Marietta's really got a potent offense, especially their passing attack. We couldn't get enough pressure on them."
"They just decided to keep throwing the ball and kind of abandoned the running game," the Blue Streaks coach continued. "It was like a two-minute drill out there. We kept running the ball to try to use up the clock."
John Carroll's running game proved to be very effective, especially in the third quarter when Marietta only had one offensive possession (and scored).
JCU had the ball twice in the period with the second possession extending into the fourth quarter.
When John Carroll took a 37-21 lead on TD runs by Casey Vogl early in the fourth quarter, it didn't look very promising for the Pioneers.
But MC still had plenty of time remaining - and nearly pulled it out, or at least almost tied the score.
"I know Marietta was up tonight and I knew they would be," Scafe said. "This was a real battle, and they didn't give up."
After the game, the Marietta players and coaching staff were obviously disappointed in the loss.
But they held their heads high as if to say, "We'll get 'em next time."
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org