BY ALEX KNISELY
Times-Reporter sports writer
COLUMBUS Justin Tyler was just too much for the Tornadoes.
Tyler ran for three touchdowns and threw for another as Marion-Franklin pulled way in the second half for a 34-14 Division III regional quarterfinal win over Dover on Friday night.
Marion-Franklin improved to 10-1 on the season and will play Columbus Brookhaven at 7 p.m. Friday at a site to be determined.
Meanwhile, Dover ended its season at 7-4 and failed to advance out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2005, when it dropped a 31-28 decision on a last-second field goal at Licking Valley.
Tyler, the Red Devil junior quarterback, ran for 173 yards on 17 carries and was 13-of-17 passing for 239 yards.
Dover quarterback Merrick Mamarella was 33-of-57 passing for 317 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He led the Tornado ground game with 33 yards on 15 carries and a score.
Evan Snyder led Dover with 12 catches for 124 yards and Cory Contini added 10 catches for 124 yards.
Dover head coach Dan Ifft said the Red Devils were a tough team to deal with.
“They were quick and big,” said Ifft. “We played really hard but made some mistakes and missed some opportunities. We just can’t do that. We have to play a clean game.”
Marion-Franklin drew first blood on a Jhulyis Moore’s 2-yard scoring run with 5:30 left in the opening quarter en route to a 7-0 advantage. The drive was aided by a roughing-the-punter penalty on the Tornadoes.
The Red Devils were looking to add to their lead midway through the second quarter as they drove to the Dover goalline, but the Tornadoes forced a fumble.
Johnny D’Egidio recovered it at the 1.
However, Marion-Franklin forced Dover to punt and the Red Devils returned the ball to the Tornadoes’ 27.
Tyler would score on a 4-yard run with 3:04 left before intermission to give the hosts a 13-0 lead.
But Dover countered with a nine-play, 63-yard drive that resulted in a 1-yard touchdown run by Merrick Mamarella with 11 seconds left before halftime. A pass by Mamarella to Contini to the 1 was the key play in the drive.
Anthony D’Egidio’s extra point drew the Tornadoes to within 13-7 at the intermission.
The Red Devils took the second-half kickoff and scored on a 10-yard run by Tyler with 9:54 left in the third quarter. The extra point put Marion-Franklin up 20-7.
The Tornadoes suffered their first turnover of the game when Marion-Franklin intercepted Mamarella and returned the ball deep in Dover real estate.
But the Red Devils returned the favor with a fumble that Jaylin Woods recovered.
The Tornadoes moved the ball down the field, but was eventually was stopped on downs.
Marion-Franklin then got a huge score on an 84-yard touchdown pass on a 3rd-and-25 play from Tyler to Shannon Royster to help make it 27-7 with 1:30 left in the third quarter.
Royster had three catches for 119 yards to lead the hosts.
Mamarella then hit Evan Snyder with 5-yard scoring pass on fourth and goal with 10 minutes left in the game. D’Egido’s extra point cut the Marion-Franklin lead to 27-14.
Dover’s Jordan Mills intercepted a Tyler pass to give the Tornadoes a chance to get closer with under five minutes to play, but Tornadoes couldn’t take advantage.
Tyler iced the game with a 51-yard scoring run.