CAMBRIDGE — It felt like one big fourth-quarter play was all that separated Cambridge from another Capitol South Conference championship.
The Blue Jays were hanging on to a three-point lead when they got the ball back on their own 19-yard line with 6 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the game.
Cambridge finally got its breakthrough play less than two minutes later when Tyler Curtis busted a 75-yard touchdown run to help Cambridge earn a 23-13 victory against visiting Marshall in a Capitol South game Friday.
The game was deadlocked at 13-10 for most of the second half before Curtis broke through.
“It was a defensive battle in the third quarter and then we busted one in the fourth quarter,” Cambridge head coach Mike Klingbeil said. “We always raise our hands in the fourth quarter to say win the fourth quarter, and we did.”
“Ultimately it came down to someone needing to make a play in the second half and they cracked off that long run and that ended being the difference,” Marshall head coach Matt Kleinheinz said.
The win clinched the Blue Jays (7-1, 3-0) the Capitol Conference championship, their third straight.
“We’re just proud of our kids and everything they’ve done to become three-time conference champs,” Klingbeil said.
Senior Nate Mohoney set up Cambridge’s first score of the game with a blocked punt with 4:22 remaining in the first quarter, putting the Blue Jays at the Marshall 16-yard line. Sophomore running back Trey Colts capped off drive following the turnover with a three-yard run to make it 6-0 Cambridge with 3:43 left in the first quarter.
Marshall (2-6, 2-2) responded soon after by picking off a pass from junior quarterback Erza Stein on the first play of the second quarter. The Cardinals eventually turned the takeaway into a 1-yard touchdown run from senior quarterback Dylan Horstmeyer.
“We needed that after the blocked punt,” Kleninheinz said. “Those two plays sort of canceled each other out. It was big, we needed it.”
The Blue Jays regained the lead with 8:45 left until halftime after a 27-yard touchdown run from Stein. Horstmeyer scurried into the end zone for his second score of the quarter with a 10-yard touchdown with 3:09 remaining in the second quarter to knot the game at 13-13.
Stein gave the Bluejays a 16-13 lead with a 17-yard field as time ran out in the second quarter.
Cambridge held onto its three-point advantage until Curtis was able to bust his 75-yard touchdown run, which came on third down.
“We just allowed the one drive and after that it was a meat grinder until the last four minutes,” Klingbeil.
Marshall was shut out in the second half by the Cambridge defense, which allowed 189 total yards on the day.
Curtis ended the game with 148 yards on 19 carries.
“Just an exciting game, homecoming, rivalry game, it came down to the last four minutes,” Klingbeil said.
Cambridge will take on Waterloo (1-7, 0-3) in a conference road match Friday at 7 p.m. The Cardinals will host Winnebago Lutheran (5-3) Friday at 7 p.m.
CAMBRIDGE 23, MARSHALL 13
Cardinals 0 13 0 0 — 13
Blue Jays 6 10 0 7 — 23
C — Colts 3 run (kick failed)
M — Horstmeyer 1 run (kick failed)
C — Stein 27 run (Stein kick)
M — Horstmeyer 10 run (kick good)
C — Stein 17 kick
C — Curtis 75 run (Stein kick)
First downs — C 18, M 9; Rushing (att.-yds.) — C 33-213, M 34-152; Passing yards — C 75, M 37; Passes (comp.-att.-int.) — C 8-20-1, M 3-11-0; Fumbles — C 0-0, M 1-1; Penalties yardage — C 3-23, M 7-71.
Rushing — C Curtis 19-148, M Horstmeyer 24-36; Passing — C Stein 8-20-75, M Horstmeyer 3-11-37; Receiving — C Kaiser 4-43, M Timpel 2-21.