MARSHALL - Since the reformation of the Southwest Conference in 2007, the Marshall Tigers have terrorized the Redwood Valley Cardinals.
The conference's two northern-most outposts had met five times during the SWC's second age prior to Friday night's matchup in Marshall, with Marshall winning all five games with a combined score of 222-53.
On the heels of five Rhett Struve touchdowns, the Tigers dispatched the Cardinals 56-13 at Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center on Friday. The Tigers now have won six in a row over the Cardinals and have won 11 straight in the Southwest Conference.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall running back Leo Zerr stiff-arms Mitch Fischer as guard Damon Brown looks on in the second quarter of Marshall’s 56-13 win over Redwood Valley Friday night at Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center.
Following back-to-back fumbles for each team, the Tigers opened up the scoring on a 41-yard pass from Austin Saugstad to Struve, with an assist to Tanner Cirks.
Emerging from the backfield on a swing pattern, Struve atoned for an earlier fumble and pulled down a pass that had deflected off of Cirks. Struve found the edge and raced past the Redwood defenders for the score to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead five minutes into the game.
"I came around on a swing pattern and saw the ball bounce off of (Tanner's) shoulder pad," Struve said, "I was just lucky to be in the right place."
Marshall added to its lead when Struve scored his second touchdown on an 11-yard scamper to cap off a seven-play, 84-yard drive. Cirks' extra point brought the score to 14-0 with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter.
After forcing a Cardinals punt to start the second quarter, Struve struck again.
The Tigers' starting running back bounced a run out to the right side and bolted down the sideline for a 78-yard score on the first play of the drive.
"Rhett's a good back and I know he's been pressing a little bit to break one of those," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said. "Now he can relax and go a little bit."
The long run and multiple touchdowns came as a bit of relief to Struve, who had yet to really break out for the Tigers in the running game so far this season.
"Last year I played behind Beau (Bofferding), so I never really got the chance to score touchdown after touchdown," Struve said. "It feels good to break one and get some confidence going forward."
Struve finished with 180 yards rushing on eight carries and four rushing touchdowns, leading the team in all categories. He also led the team in fumbles with two, both on punts.
"We need to work on punt returns," Struve said. "We had some communication errors."
His second fumble of the night would ultimately result in Redwood's first touchdown. Quarterback Alec Koster tossed a 16-yard score to RJ Juell in the corner of the endzone. Redwoods PAT failed and the score was 21-6.
Struve made up for his error on the next drive. On a sweep to the right side, Struve cut up field and spun out of a tackle, somehow staying on his feet, and darted past the defenders for a 49-yard score.
On Marshall's next drive, Saugstad took a quarterback-keeper eight yards for a touchdown and effectively seal the game. His run capped off an eight play, 83 yard drive with just over two minutes to go in the half.
"Our weapons are coming around, our experience in the backfield is gaining more, and of course we're solid up front," Bahlmann said.
Leading 35-6 entering the second half, Marshall added three scores in the third quarter. Following his interception of Koster, Struve plunged in from a yard out for his fifth score. Colton Citrowske took a fourth-down screen pass 35 yards for a touchdown, and Sam Marshall got his first varsity touchdown on a four-yard rumble.
Redwood Valley would see another Koster to Juell connection, but at the four-minute mark of the fourth quarter it was far too little, far too late.
The 56-13 win marked the third consecutive blowout win for the Tigers.
"The biggest benefit for us is our young guys. Everybody got a chance to play. It makes it easier for us to come back to practice and get that nervousness of that first varsity game out of the way," Bahlmann said.
But the game was not without its flaws for the Tigers.
"We didn't execute everything the way we wanted and we were still successful," Bahlmann said. "We have to clean up our punt return game and we fumbled one other one. Get those things cleaned up and hopefully we can take care of it next week for Jackson."
Next up for the Tigers is a trip to Jackson to face the Class AA's seventh-ranked Jackson County Central Huskies. Jackson will be coming off of a 28-14 loss to No. 5 Luverne.
When asked what he expected Friday against JCC, Bahlmann kept his answer concise, "A good, physical football game."
Redwood0 6 0 7-13
Marshall14 21 21 0-56
M-Rhett Struve 41 pass from Austin Saugstad (Tanner Cirks kick), 7:00.
M-Struve 11 run (Cirks kick), 2:03.
M-Struve 79 run (Cirks kick), 11:34.
R-RJ Juell 15 pass from Alec Koster (run failed), 7;53.
M-Struve 49 run (Cirks kick), 6:56.
M-Saugstad 7 run (Cirks kick), 2:01.
M-Struve 1 run (Cirks kick), 9:22.
M-Colton Citrowske 35 pass from Brad Bahlmann (Cirks kick), 7:35.
M-Sam Marshall 4 run (Cirks kick), 3:14
R-Juell 5 pass from Koster (Aidan Dirlam kick), 4:07.
First Downs: R-10; M-20. Rushing Yards: R-56; M-394. Passing Yardage: R-100; M-151. Total Offense: R-156; M-545. Penalties: R-1-15; M- 2-15.
Rushing: Rhett Struve 8-180, Colton Citrowske 8-70, Sam Marshall 3-41, Brad Bahlmann 7-34, Leo Zerr 1-31.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Austin Saugstad 5-6-116-0, Brad Bahlmann 2-3-35-0.
Receiving: Aaron Mathiowetz 2-42, Struve 1-41, Citrowske 1-35, Adam McVey 1-34.
Tackles: Collin VanKeulen 5.5, Alex Werner 4.5, Campbell Hofstetter 4, Brock Baumgarn 3.5, Tanner Cirks 3, Stephen Womack 2.5, Bahlmann 2.5.
Sacks: Werner 2, Hofstetter, Cirks.
INT: Struve, Jeremy Rodriguez.
FR: Tyus DeBoer, Saugstad, Timmy Vang.