Marshfield defensive end Trevor Peterson sacks Menomonie quarterback Neico Stokke during the Tigers' WIAA Division 2 Level 2 playoff game Friday at Menomonie. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
Marshfield tight end Jordan Schecklman, left, and tackle Cody Schmitt double team Menomonie defender Connor Hanson during Friday's WIAA Division 2 Level 2 football playoff game at Menomonie. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
This story is sponsored by: High Street Salon, Spa & Travel
By Paul Lecker
MENOMONIE – Near the end of the fourth quarter it started to set in for members of the Marshfield football team. Their season was over.
The Tigers, who made an improbable run to the state semifinals last year, expected to get at least that far this year, but it wasn’t to be.
Behind big play after big play, Menomonie dominated Marshfield in a 44-14 WIAA Division 2 Level 2 playoff win Friday night at Williams Stadium at the University of Wisconsin-Stout.
Marshfield turned the ball over four times and was hurt by five offensive plays of 30 yards or more and two defensive return for touchdowns by the Mustangs.
Marshfield’s season ends with a 9-2 record, while 10-1 Menomonie moves on to a Level 3 game against 10-1 Tomah either next Friday or Saturday at a site to be determined.
Menomonie quarterback Neico Stokke made the most of nearly every pass attempt he made, piling up 294 yards on 11 of 16 passing. He completed five passes to Lex Pelke for 140 yards and two touchdowns in the first half and all four of his completions in the second half went to Drew Otto for 89 yards and another score.
“It hurts when you’re winning all kinds of games and you run into a buzz saw that you’re not prepared for,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “It’s my fault that they weren’t prepared. We kind of went into it with let’s have a little bit more swagger this week, let’s be a little more confident. They just beat us.
“We didn’t know how hard to play. We stressed that all year when we went into a practice or a game, ‘Do you guys know how hard you have to play?’ We obviously didn’t know how hard we had to play.”
After Elliot Ashbeck hit Brandon Brown for a 26-yard gain on Marshfield’s first play, Menomonie’s defense dominated the majority of remainder of the first half.
The Tigers turned the ball over on downs at the 38 and three plays later Stokke went deep to Pelke for a 62-yard touchdown.
After each team had a three-and-out, Andrew Kryshak sacked Ashbeck, stripped the ball and rumbled 30 yards for a touchdown to put the Mustangs up 14-0 and completely stun the Tigers.
“You don’t want to do that stuff against a good team like that,” Goettl said. “I probably screwed up going for it on fourth down early in the game, but the play before we had Autie (Austin Littmann) open down the middle. They got a lot of pressure on Elliot and which forced us not to be able to read as much down the field in our man offense.”
Stokke hit Pelke again for an 8-yard touchdown pass early the second quarter, capping a 12-play, 83-yard drive that saw the Mustangs convert a third down and a fourth down to keep the drive alve.
A 56-yard pass from Pelke to Cody Larson set up a 2-yard TD run by James Heimler and Menomonie led 28-0 at the half.
Marshfield was held to just 64 total yards and 13 yards rushing on 17 attempts in the first half.
“They didn’t let us get in and their quarterback is pretty nifty, plus our feet are a big challenge to us,” Goettl said. “We had some blown coverages right away. That’s a big play that hurt us, then we get our dobbers down and a fumble … one thing led to another and you can’t do that against a team like that.”
Marshfield had a glimmer of hope early the third quarter when Justin Sternweis recovered a fumble on the first offensive play of the half.
Eight plays later, Ashbeck found a wide-open Riley Gebelein for a 30-yard touchdown on fourth down to cut into the Mustangs’ lead.
The optimism was short-lived. Menomonie converted a third-and-10 on its next drive and three plays after that, Stokke tossed a 48-yard touchdown pass to Otto.
Marshfield drove the ball down to the Menomonie 14, but Ashbeck was intercepted by Larson, who fly 93 yards down the field for another touchdown to put the Mustangs up 41-7.
“They put some good pressure on,” Ashbeck said. “We were just a millisecond away on a block, just a millimeter away on a throw, we were just that one big play away that could have shifted the momentum a little bit earlier before things got out of hand.”
Otto made a 26-yard field goal for Menomonie and Cody Tarnowski, who rushed for 108 yards on nine carries and had five catches for 34 yards to provide for more than half of the Tigers’ offense, scored on a 2-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to cap the scoring.
“We overcame a lot of adversity and things could have ended a little bit better, I think, but this is a great group of guys and I wouldn’t trade them for anybody,” Ashbeck said.
Mustangs 44, Tigers 14
Marshfield 0 0 7 7 – 14
Menomonie 14 14 13 3 – 44
MEN – Lex Pelke 62 pass from Neico Stokke (Drew Otto kick), 9:17.
MEN – Andrew Kryshak 30 fumble return (Otto kick), 6:37.
MEN – Pelke 8 pass from Stokke (kick failed), 10:50.
MEN – James Heimler 2 run (Mitch Starkey pass from Stokke), 2:33.
MAR – Riley Geblein 30 pass from Elliot Ashbeck (Gus Utech kick), 8:16.
MEN – Otto 48 pass from Stokke (Otto kick), 5:59.
MEN – Cody Larson 93 interception return (kick failed), 3:10.
MEN – Otto 26 field goal, 5:19.
MAR – Cody Tarnowski 2 run (Utech kick), 2:18.
First downs: Marshfield 9; Menomonie 12.
Rushing (att-yards): Marshfield 30-119; Menomonie 34-127.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Marshfield 15-27-147-3; Menomonie 11-16-294-1.
Fumbles (total-lost): Marshfield 3-1; Menomonie 1-1.
Penalties (total-yards): Marshfield 3-15; Menomonie 5-45.
Rushing: MAR, Cody Tarnowski 9-108, Riley Gebelein 17-35, Elliot Ashbeck 4-minus 24. MEN, Neico Stokke 8-70, James Heimler 11-30, James Gates 1-10, Cale Bauer 3-9, Caleb Goettl 1-5, Drew Otto 10-3.
Passing: MAR, Ashbeck 15-27-147-3. MEN, Stokke 11-16-294-1.
Receiving: MAR, Tarnowski 5-34, Austin Littmann 4-38, Gebelein 3-24, Brandon Brown 2-42, Jordan Litwatis 1-9. MEN, Lex Pelke 5-140, Otto 5-98, Cody Larson 1-56.
Interceptions (defense): MAR, Zach Schwanz. MEN, Stokke, Larson, Pelke.
Fumble recoveries (defense): MAR, Justin Sternweis. MEN, Andrew Kryshak.
Records: Marshfield 9-2; Menomonie 10-1.
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