Marshfield running back Caleb Alexander gets to the outside during Friday’s WIAA Division 2 Level 1 playoff game at Menomonie. Alexander ran for 101 yards in the Tigers’ 7-3 loss. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
This story is sponsored by Forward Financial Bank
By Paul Lecker
MENOMONIE – Marshfield football coach Denny Goettl always preaches that defense wins championships.
On Friday night in a WIAA Division 2 Level 1 playoff game, Menomonie had just a slightly better one than the Tigers.
Marshfield got inside the Menomonie 25 on all four second-half possessions but came away with just three points and the Raiders posted a 7-3 victory at Williams Stadium on the University of Wisconsin-Stout campus.
Menomonie (9-1) moves on to a Level 2 game next Friday or Saturday against the winner of Saturday’s game between Hortonville and Superior. Marshfield’s season ends with a 6-4 record.
Menomonie made two big defensive stands among the four stops in the second half.
The first came on the Tigers’ second possession of the half when they drove to the Menomonie 1-yard line.
However, four running plays later, the Tigers were turned away.
The final Mustangs’ stop came on Marshfield’s last drive. Following a 51-yard pass play from Luke Zuiker to Jeffrey Allison got the Tigers down to the 4, a fumbled snap, a sack and two incomplete passes later left Marshfield empty-handed again with only 1:29 to go.
“We knew how good we were,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “That’s a good football team we had.
“Our defense played extremely well. Third-and-6 we stuff them, fourth-and 1, we stuff them. They were tough. It was a great football game.”
After a scoreless first half, which saw Marshfield punt on all seven possessions and Menomonie commit a turnover and get stuffed by the Tigers on two fourth-down plays, the Mustangs drew first blood.
Menomonie took the opening kickoff of the second half and drove 67 yards in 14 plays. The Mustangs converted twice on fourth down, once on a fourth-and-11 pass play from Nate Stanley to Cole Werner. Two plays after that play, Stanley snuck in from 1-yard out to give the Mustangs a 7-3 lead.
Marshfield responded by pressing down to the Menomonie 4. Allison hauled in an 18-yard pass from Zuiker, Caleb Alexander had a 19-yard run and Zuiker ran 9 yards down to the 4.
Alexander seemingly picked up a first down on the next play, getting down to the 1, but a holding penalty in the middle of the Marshfield line pushed it back to the 13. After an incomplete pass, Brad Krueger kicked a 30-yard field goal to make it 7-3.
Alexander gained 55 of his 101 yards on the first four players of the Tigers’ next possession, getting them down to the 1. Marshfield couldn’t punch it in as Alexander tried running four more times and the Tigers were turned away on downs.
After a Cullen Bump interception and return down to the 12, another penalty for a block in the back on the play pushed the Tigers back to the 22.
This time Marshfield couldn’t do anything and Zuiker was sacked on fourth down.
Marshfield’s stingy defense stopped the Mustangs again to give the offense one more chance.
“They run the same stuff as they always do, they just didn’t have the big, big horses like they do sometimes,” Goettl said. “They try to smash it at you. That’s patented Menomonie, at halftime they come out and a 14-play drive and score.”
The Tigers took over with 4:20 to go on their own 36. On the second play, Zuiker hit Allison for the big gain down the right sideline. Allison angled over the defender to grab the ball and shook a couple of defenders before being pushed out of bounds on the 4.
Again, Menomonie’s defense came up big and Zuiker’s desperation pass on fourth-and-goal from the 11 was a bit high and the Mustangs ran out the clock five plays later.
“We get down to the 1 and can’t score on four plays, there was a tough holding call on the 1 that maybe changed some momentum,” Goettl said. “They’re a strong defensive team. We just couldn’t run on them when we got down inside there.”
Mustangs 7, Tigers 3
Marshfield 0 0 3 0 – 3
Menomonie 0 0 7 0 – 7
MEN – Nate Stanley 1 run (Brett Lindberg kick), 6:18.
MAR – Brad Krueger 30 field goal, 3:37.
First downs: MAR 7; MEN 10.
Rushing (att-yards): MAR 33-115; MEN 44-165.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): MAR 5-17-79-0; MEN 3-12-86-1.
Penalties (total-yards): MAR 4-46; MEN 3-20.
Fumbles (total-lost): MAR 3-0; MEN 1-1.
Rushing: MAR, Caleb Alexander 16-101, Keiron Howlett 5-19, Thomas Gisvold 2-2, Mitch Zillman 1-1, Luke Zuiker 9-minus 5. MEN, Derek Kahl 26-113, Dylan Harmston 8-30, Nate Stanley 9-21, Dan Jacques 1-0.
Passing: MAR, Zuiker 5-16-79-0, Howlett 0-1-0-0. MEN, N. Stanley 3-12-86-1.
Receiving: MAR, Jeffrey Allison 3-74, Alexander 2-5. MEN, Luke Stanley 1-54, Cole Werner 1-21, A.J. Naatz 1-11.
Fumble recoveries (defense): MAR, Mitch Ott.
Interceptions (defense): MAR, Cullen Bump.
Punting: MAR, Craig Zalizniak 7-39.8. MEN, N. Stanley 5-31.8.
Records: Marshfield 6-4; Menomonie 9-1.