McNeese State running back Marcus Wiltz. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 9:44 PM
In one regard, football is no different than baseball. At the end of the game, you want the ball in the hands of your closer.
Running back Marcus Wiltz is steadily becoming that player for McNeese State.
Twice in the last three weeks Wiltz has ripped off long touchdown runs with about 3 minutes left to give the Cowboys a two-score lead — a 29-yarder against Central Arkansas and a 35-yarder against Stephen F. Austin.
“I have no idea what’s gotten into me,” Wiltz said. “But I’m liking it a lot. It’s been good blocking up front, and I’m hitting the holes.”
It turned out the UCA touchdown didn’t finish business as expected, but thoughts of that were not in Wiltz’s head as he powered to the end zone against the Lumberjacks on Saturday night.
“Our defense was doing a great job,” Wiltz said. “With the momentum we had this time, there was no worries when I went to the sideline. I felt they were going to close this game out better than Central Arkansas.”
Wiltz’s fourth-quarter touchdowns were similar in distance but different in style.
Against the Bears he juked his way past a slew of defenders, including a pair near the 3-yard line, to make it into the end zone.
The touchdown against the Lumberjacks was more a show of power.
SFA defensive lineman Malcolm Mattox attempted to tackle Wiltz at the 20-yard line, where he was greeted with a stiff-arm. Not quite ready to give up, Mattox grabbed on to the back of Wiltz’s jersey — and proceeded to hang on for the next 17 yards like a bunch of cans tied to the back bumper of a newlywed couple’s car.
“Damion Dixon was out there blocking, so I went left,” Wiltz said. “I just kind of stuck my hand backwards and felt (Mattox’s) helmet, so I just kept pushing and pushing him. Then it got to point where I saw the pylon, and I just kept dragging him.”
At the 3, Wiltz used one last burst to shed Mattox and cross the goal line.
“I just screamed, ‘Let me go!” Wiltz said. “That last push got him off me and I just dove for it.”
Though the runs have been remarkable, Wiltz said his late-game success is more a product of what others have done than what he has done. He said he believes the offense has worn down opposing defenses to the point that big holes have made it easier for him to break loose.
“As an offense, we’re all in fourth-quarter shape,” Wiltz said. “We wear them down for the first three quarters and have an extra gear that kicks in that allows us to make big plays and plays that count.”