CHARLESTOWN — Marion Lukes put an exclamation point on Charlestown’s Senior Night celebration Friday night at Dutch Reis Field.
The school’s all-time leading rusher eclipsed the 5,000-yard plateau with 152 yards and three touchdowns en route to a 20-6 win over Mid-Southern Conference foe Salem, which is off to its best start since 2008.
The Central Michigan commit, one of eight Charlestown seniors, carried the ball 25 times and had touchdown runs of 37, 16 and 20 yards, respectively, in avenging a first-round sectional defeat from a season ago. He’s now sitting on 5,144 career rushing yards – in just three seasons with the Pirates.
“It’s a very big accomplishment,” Lukes said. “I did it in basically two-and-a-half years. So to do that, it touched me deeply. For the fans to come out in this cold stadium and watch me accomplish our goals, it’s very special to me.
“It was a big game coming in. They knocked us off last year. To come back and get revenge [for our] seniors that aren’t able to play in this game. … To come back and beat that team that knocked us off, that destroyed us emotionally, it felt so good – especially to do it on Senior Night. … It was a big night for me.”
The hosts put together nearly 200 total yards of offense, with 186 coming on the ground in a rainy affair. The defense, which ranked 15th in the state and third in Class 3A in points allowed per game entering Friday, held the Lions to 165 total yards.
It was the sixth straight win for Charlestown (6-2, 5-2 MSC) and it gave the senior class a 3-2 edge over the Lions (5-3, 5-3) in the past four seasons. They’ve won the six straight by an average of 26 points and locked up third place in the MSC.
“It’s a great win for those [the seniors],” Charlestown coach Jason Hawkins said. “We’re low on numbers with only eight of them, but they all play. They all are significant. All eight of them are big-time contributors on our team, and we’re going to miss them. … They deserve this win. Starting out 0-2, now winning six straight … I can’t feel happier for those eight kids.”
After a fumble on Salem’s opening drive, Lukes opened scoring and solidified his 5,000-plus-yard rushing total by way of a 37-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. That play was the difference in the first half, as Salem went on to turn the ball over twice more, sandwiched in between a Charlestown punt.
A Hail Mary as first-half time expired sailed just out of the reach of the Pirates, who entered the break with 119 total yards of offense, 79 via Lukes on 11 carries. The defense held the Lions to just 71 total first-half yards.
Lukes opened the second half as he did the first, this time taking a handoff up the middle and finding an opening down the left side of the field for a 16-yard touchdown. That made for a 14-0 lead with less than 10 minutes showing in the quarter.
Salem put together an answer on its ensuing drive, though, capped by a nine-yard run from Lane Price. In wake of a Charlestown punt, the Lions had an opportunity to tie. But the Pirates defense had another thing in mind.
A bad pitch set up a fumble recovery for senior Bo Braunecker, which helped pave way for Lukes’ third touchdown, a 20-yard dash, and a 20-6 cushion early in the fourth quarter. An Addison Logsdon sack with 3:57 left later sealed the win.
“Bo Braunecker did a really good job of making adjustments for our defense,” Hawkins said. “Salem’s a really good football team. I feel like we did a really good job of slowing them down on offense. The weather might have helped us a little bit, slowing down their passing game. But I felt that we made great adjustments.”
Charlestown looks to keep momentum as it closes the regular season next Friday at Eastern prior to Sectional 31 play.
“I think we’re playing at a high level right now,” Hawkins said. “I think we’re getting better every week. … It’s a tough sectional. We hope we get a good draw tomorrow. … We’ll just take it one at a time.”
CHARLESTOWN 20, SALEM 6
Salem 0 0 6 0 — 6
Charlestown 7 0 7 6 — 20
C — Marion Lukes 37 run (Jaron Almeciga kick good), 10:20
C — Lukes 16 run (Almeciga kick good), 9:54
S — Lane Price 9 run (Luke Noel kick no good), 5:04
C — Lukes 20 run (Almeciga kick good), 9:54
Passing: Charlestown (1-6-8) — Andrew Snider 1-6-8; Salem (1-7--5) — Brandon Corbin 1-7--5.
Rushing: Charlestown (35-186) — Lukes 25-152-3, Snider 6-26; Salem (53-170) — Lane Price 20-74, Corbin 21-28, Shane Mahuron 6-43
Receiving: Charlestown — Deven Lukes 1-13; Salem — Reese McCoskey 1-5