Cole Denniston

Cole Denniston searches for a first down during an earlier game in the season for Marshall. Denniston made the game-sealing interception for the Cardinals on Friday night against Belleville.

BELLEVILLE – As far as defensive performances go, nights don’t get much better than the one the Marshall football team had against Belleville in Friday’s 13-7 win, the Cardinals’ first of the season.

“I was super proud of our defense,” said Marshall head coach Matt Kleinheinz. “We really changed up our scheme this week; we thought Belleville presented a look that afforded us to be able to do that without changing too many of our principles. The kids really bought in, flew around, and made some plays.”

The Cardinals rode their smothering defense to their first victory of the season against Belleville, holding the Wildcats to just 109 yards and seven points.

Over the course of the game, the Cardinals used an effective rushing attack to keep Belleville’s offense off the field.

Marshall struck first, with Dylan Horstmeyer scoring the game’s first touchdown midway through the first quarter: a 16-yard scamper to put the Cardinals up 7-0 following Joey Chiuchiolo’s PAT.

The Cardinals continued to grind out the clock as the first half progressed, and were poised to take the 7-0 lead into the half. With just 30 seconds remaining in the second quarter, though, Belleville showed a spark of life; quarterback J.J. Wenger broke loose and dashed 60 yards into the end zone, tying the game at seven heading into the break.

“The biggest thing that I’m proud of, we talked about with them after the game, was their perseverance,” said Kleinheinz. “There was so much noise outside of the program of people questioning us and doubting us, and we stuck to the script… It would have been easy for our kids to fold up.”

In the second half, the Cardinals continued to pound the ball and control the clock — Marshall ran 62 plays in the game compared to just 37 for Belleville — and recaptured the lead with 33 seconds left in the third on a Jack Moen 2-yard scoring plunge. A failed extra point, however, meant the Cardinals’ lead stood at just six points.

Marshall’s defense finished the job, keeping the Wildcats out of the end zone for the remainder of the contest. Cole Denniston capped the game with an interception to seal the victory, highlighting a brilliant night for Marshall’s secondary; the Cardinals didn’t allow a single completion on 12 Belleville passes.

“We made plays in the fourth quarter,” Kleinheinz added. “Cole Denniston had a huge interception to seal it. We pounded Jack Moen a ton running the football behind Kelby (Petersen), Davonte (Holmes), Zach (Igl), Alejandro (Ugalde) and Taylor (Michalak). We did a nice job running the football, grinding out clock and keeping a pretty athletic offense off the field.”

When the clock finally hit all zeroes, the Cardinals emerged with the victory: their first of the year.

Horstmeyer led Marshall in rushing, racking up 102 yards on 27 attempts, while Moen tallied 86 yards on 23 attempts. Horstmeyer was also four of 10 through the air for 66 yards. Denniston was the game’s leading receiver, racking up 35 yards on two catches, followed by Kalob Arndt with 24 yards, Gus Timpel with 21 and Moen with 10.

Marshall (1-5, 1-1 Capitol South) hopes to keep their momentum rolling on Friday, when they return home for a contest against Waterloo.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

MARSHALL 13

BELLEVILLE 7

Marshall 7 0 6 0 — 13

Belleville 0 7 0 0 — 7

Marshall — Horstmeyer, 16 run (Chiuchiolo kick).

Belleville — Wenger, 60 run (Syse kick).

Marshall — Moen, 2 run (kick failed).

First Downs — M 11, B 3. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) — M 50-168, B 26-105. Passing Yards — M 84, B 0. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) — M 5-12-0, B 0-12-1. Fumbles-lost — M 4-0, B 0-0. Penalties — M 10-90, B 1-10.

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