The drought is over.

After seven years of falling prey to Ruckel of Niceville, the Destin Marlins shut the Rams down 22-7 in a middle school football season opener Thursday night in Niceville.

“Heart and desire,” was the difference, said Destin Coach Mark Hinterthan.

“I think we had big hearts and just wanted it a little bit more … so we came out and didn’t quit,” Hinterthan said.

The Marlins put up good numbers on offense with Jack Tenholder leading the running attack with 96 yards in 18 carries for three touchdowns. Jacob Wester rushed three times for 32 yards, Harrison Orr had four carries for 31 yards and Anthony Ordonez had two carries for 22 yards.

Through the air, Orr completed five of nine for 38 yards.

“I think we played hard and executed fairly well,” Hinterthan said. “And our defense played hard … our coaches did a great job of preparing.”

The Destin defense held the Rams to a total of 89 yards on offense, 56 rushing and 33 through the air.

Ruckel’s biggest play of the night was on the opening kickoff when Miche Waltman ran it back for 75 yards. The Rams kicked in the extra point and led 7-0 in just the first 15 seconds of play.

Destin came out on their first possession and moved the ball, picking up a first down with Orr connecting with Tabious Thompson for a gain of six yards and then Wester rushing for eight. Orr hit Wester on a route for a gain of eight yards but failed to make another first.

Ruckel took over on its own 4-yard line and Destin held them inside the 10, forcing a punt on fourth down.

With good field position, Destin put the ball in the end zone in five plays. Tenholder picked up 10 yards, then another two. Wester ran it for three and then Orr for two. On a fourth-and-goal, Tenholder dove and stretched the ball across the goal line for the TD. The kick after was no good, Destin trailed 7-6.

In the second half, Destin scored on their second possession. Ordonez carried the ball twice, each for 11 yards, and then Tenholder scored again on a 1-yard plunge. This time, Destin set up for the extra-point kick but Orr ran it in for the two-point conversion and a 14-7 lead.

Destin scored one last time in the fourth quarter. With the ball on their own 46-yard line, the Marlins put the ball in the end zone in six plays. Wester rushed for 21 yards, then Tenholder ran it the next five times, capping it off with a 5-yard run for the TD. The Marlins did the same set up for the kick with Orr running it in for the two-point play.

In the final seconds, Destin threatened one last time with the ball inside 5-yard line, but ran out of time.

“I couldn’t be more proud. Great way to start off the season,” Hinterthan said.

Up next, Destin plays Emerald Coast Middle School at home at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 30.