GALESVILLE — Heading into the postseason as underdogs, the Marshall football team was hoping to shock the football world Friday night when they traveled to Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau for their WIAA Division 5 Level 1 contest.
The eighth-seeded Cardinals gave the top-seeded Red Hawks bit of a scare, but couldn’t quite score the upset, ultimately falling in their postseason opener, 48-18.
The plan for the Cardinals (2-8) was to catch their opponent off-guard to begin the game.
“After a long bus ride — and the fact that we were heavy underdogs — we wanted to get the kids jump-started,” said Marshall head coach Matt Kleinheinz. “We began the game with an onside kick that we recovered and promptly marched down the field.”
After reaching the red zone on their first drive, Marshall threatened to take the first lead of the night. A fumble at the 8-yard line — the first of three costly turnovers — kept them off the scoreboard.
The Cardinal defense held firm on the ensuing possession, though, and Dylan Horstmeyer ensured the offense got on the scoreboard the second time they held the ball. Horstmeyer scored on a 1-yard touchdown run late in the first to put the Cardinals up over the top-seeded Red Hawks, and Marshall held onto the 6-0 lead into the second quarter.
The Red Hawks (9-1) scored a touchdown of their own early in the second, and after a 2-point conversion, held a narrow 8-6 lead.
Twice more, the Cardinals threatened to add to their point total in the second quarter; each time, the Red Hawks came away with interceptions in the end zone to bring an end to Marshall’s scoring threats. G-E-T scored the half’s third touchdown on a 68-yard rush with under three minutes to go until halftime, and the teams went into the break with the Red Hawks leading 16-6.
Jack Moen opened the second-half scoring for the Cardinals, scoring on a 2-yard plunge to bring Marshall within four points.
Unfortunately for the Cardinals, the magic ran out from there. The Red Hawks broke off a pair of long touchdown runs in the third quarter, followed by two more scores in the fourth to pull away.
Horstmeyer did connect with Kalob Arndt early in the fourth to bring Marshall within two scores, but the Red Hawks’ pair of touchdowns later in the quarter ensured there would be no comeback for the Cardinals.
Horstmeyer led Marshall with 203 yards on the ground and 86 through the air. Arndt was the Cardinals’ leading receiver with 37 yards on three catches. He finished the season with 1,107 rushing yards.
A late two-game win streak in conference play secured Marshall the 25th playoff berth in program history.
“The thing I will remember most is this group’s perseverance. We definitely had some nights where things didn’t go our way, but the kids always came to practice on Monday with a positive attitude and ready to get to work on the next opponent,” said Kleinheinz. “They never got too high on their accomplishments and didn’t get too low when things weren’t going the way we had hoped. That was a reflection of our seniors and their blue-collar style of play.”
G-E-T will host No. 4 La Crosse Aquinas in Level 2 play Friday.
Marshall 6 0 6 6 — 18
G-E-T 0 16 16 16 — 48
Marshall — Horstmeyer, 1 run (kick failed).
G-E-T — Vance, 5 run (Schmidt run).
G-E-T — Vance, 68 run (Schindler run).
Marshall — Moen, 2 run (run failed)
G-E-T — Schindler, 24 run (Harshman pass from Schmidt).
G-E-T — Vance, 79 run (Schindler run).
Marshall — Arndt, 21 pass from Horstmeyer (pass failed).
G-E-T — Vance, 26 run (Schindler run).
G-E-T — Schindler, 9 run (Schindler run).
First Downs — M 23, GET 17. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — M 41-235, GET 29-347. Passing Yards — M 86, GET 63. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — M 7-16-2, GET 3-7-0. Fumbles-lost — M 1-1, GET 2-1. Penalties — M 8-80, GET 10-115.