GLENCOE- Close games are often decided by who is able to make the big plays. Unfortunately for the Marshall Tigers, those plays were made by their opponents in a 21-14 loss to the Glencoe-Silver Lake Panthers in a Section 2AAAA semifinal Saturday.
The Panthers, ranked No. 4 in Class AAAA and the second seed in the section, used a 64-yard touchdown pass from Keaton Anderson to Jake Stuedemann and a 12-yard run by Ryan Kuester on a fake punt to hand the Tigers their only loss of the 2012 season.
"We did three or four dumb things in the game, and against good teams like G-SL they're going to hurt you," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said. "We had two fourth-down penalties that led to touchdowns. And the fake punt, we weren't where we were supposed to be. And again, against good teams, that's going to hurt you."
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall’s Jared Holland and Alex Werner (65) try to bring down Glencoe-Silver Lake fullback Dalton Clouse during Saturday’s Section 2AAAA semifinal game in Glencoe.
Stuedemann's long catch and run came with just 21 seconds remaining in the first half and two plays after the Tigers had scored a touchdown of their own. The speedy wingback caught the ball in the middle of the field and used his quickness to find the edge, where he delivered a powerful stiff arm to Marshall's Leo Zerr to clear his path.
The Tigers were looking to take advantage of a Panthers' three-and-out early in the second quarter, but safety Ethan Maass made a tremendous play to intercept an Austin Saugstad pass on the first play following the punt.
Maass, a three-year starter for the Panthers at safety, broke twenty yards while the ball was in flight to disrupt an out-and-up pattern and make a diving catch to give the Panthers the ball with 9:42 remaining on in the first half.
"Maass is, if not the best safety, one of the best safeties I've coached played against," Bahlmann said. "He was able to fill in the line of scrimmage on run plays and also get across and make plays in the pass game. He's a good football player. They played eight in the box against us, and with him coming up there it almost meant nine. They really shut down our running game, which we were a little surprised at."
Marshall was held to by far its lowest rushing total of the season at 131 yards, with 109 of those coming from Saugstad on scrambles. Rhett Struve and Colton Citrowske, the Tigers' two 1,000-yard backs, were never able to get going as they combined for just 20 yards on 15 carries.
The Tigers were equally successful in shutting down the Glencoe running game, as the Panthers had just 102 yards as a team. Stephen Womack led the Tigers with seven tackles, while Struve was second with 6.5. Alex Werner had 2.5 tackles for loss, tops for the Tigers, and a sack, while Campbell Hofstetter also had a sack and 4.5 tackles.
"It was a hard-fought football game," Bahlmann said. "We knew it was going to be a physical, defensive game. Neither team was able to run the football at all."
Following the interception by Maass, the Panthers marched 74 yards in just about seven minutes to open the scoring in the game. Anderson found fullback Dalton Clouse for an 11-yard touchdown at 2:57.
Marshall responded in kind, taking just over two minutes to tie the game. Marshall used a 16-yard pass and catch from Saugstad to Brock Baumgarn to get into Panther territory, which Saugstad followed up with a 14-yard QB draw. Saugstad ultimately found Struve in the front corner of the endzone for 25-yard touchdown toss to knot the score at 7-all with 44 seconds to go before half time. Struve led all Tigers with six catches for 45 yards, despite being shadowed by Maass.
The game wasn't tied long, as Stuedemann's long score gave G-SL a 14-7 lead at the break.
Despite trailing at halftime for the first time all season, the Tigers responded as one would expect the seventh-ranked team in state to do to open the third quarter.
After kicking off to the Panthers, Saugstad picked off an Anderson pass and returned it 20 yards to the G-SL 30-yard line. Two minutes later, Saugstad sprawled into the end zone on a two-yard plunge. Tanner Cirks' extra point tied the score at 14.
Marshall got the ball again with a chance to take the lead four minutes later following a Panther turnover on downs. Saugstad, however, threw his second interception of the game when Bennett Bielke got between him and his target.
The senior quarterback, despite throwing three interceptions, probably had the best all-around game for Marshall. His 109 rushing yards were accumulated through will as much as skill, as Saugstad shook off would be tacklers to turn busted third down plays into fresh first downs. His 113 passing yards could have been more if not for scattered holding calls and a near miss late in the game. He also had 3.5 tackles as a strong safety and the aforementioned interception.
"Saugstad made some great plays for us, in the run game and in the pass game, making some scramble runs for us," Bahlmann said. "And he had the big pick. But we competed well. I thought we battled back two or three times and we had a chance to tie there in the last two minutes, but didn't make the play."
After a fourth-down stop by the Tigers, Marshall had the ball with a chance to take the lead early in the final quarter. An 8-yard run by Citrowske on first down set up a 35-yard pass attempt that just slipped through Cirks' hands in the end zone. The Tigers were then flagged for a false start turning third and short into third and seven. Saugstad found Struve for no gain and was sacked on fourth down giving the ball back to the Panthers, who spent six minutes moving towards the game's winning touchdown.
The 60-yard drive looked to be halted after its first 20 yards, but G-SL used a fake punt for its first of two fourth-down conversions on the drive.
On the fake punt, Kuester, a halfback and the G-SL punter, took the snap and exposed a broken contain by the Tigers to pick up 12 yards and the first down.
Marshall had a chance to limit the damage of the fake punt, but a controversial defensive holding penalty gave the Panthers another chance to convert on fourth-and- inches. Anderson used a QB keeper to pick up the necessary inches and set up Stuedeman's second touchdown of the day. The 4-yard dash by the G-SL junior at 4:08 in the fourth quarter would prove to be the ultimate game winner.
Marshall had two separate possessions to try and tie the game. The first ended on Saugstad's final interception, this one by Carter Pinske. The return looked to be for a game-ending touchdown, but Citrowske made a shoestring tackle to stop Pinske at the 20.
The Tigers forced another turnover on downs with 1:22 remaining, but could not move the ball down the field against the Panthers' defense. A final fourth-down pass attempt to Cirks fell incomplete, as did the Tigers season.
For the team, the loss to Glencoe-Silver Lake brought with it a feeling both unusual and familiar. Over the past three years, the Tigers have compiled a 27-4 record, but could not claim the desired section championship.
And for the 25 seniors, their season and high school careers must feel as though they ended too soon. But, as their head coach noted, they have much to be proud of.
"It's been a great group,"?Bahlmann said. "They're a tight group. They've won 27 games over three years, three straight conference championships and they should be proud of that. We played a good football team tough and we got beat. We're disappointed, but I thought we played hard."
Marshall0 7 7 0-14
G-SL0 14 0 7-21
G-Dalton Clouse 11 pass from Keaton Anderson (Brandon Ebert kick), 2:57
M-Rhett Struve 25 pass from Austin Saugstad (Tanner Cirks kick), 0:44
G-Jake Stuedemann 64 pass from Anderson (Ebert kick), 0:21
M-Saugstad 2 run (Cirks kick), 9:50
G-Stuedemann 1 run (Ebert kick), 4:08
Rushing: M-Austin Saugstad 10-109, Colton Citrowske 8-22.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): M-Saugstad 12-25-113-3; G-Keaton Anderson 7-13-116-1.
Receiving: M-Rhett Struve 6-45, Tanner Cirks 3-32, Brock Baumgarn 1-16, Colton Citrowske 1-13, Leo Zerr 1-7; G-Reed Dunbar 5-41, Jake Stuedeman 1-64, Dalton Clouse 1-11.
Tackles: M-Stephen Womack 7, Struve 6.5, Alex Werner 5, Tanner Cirks 5, Campbell Hofstetter 4.5, Austin Saugstad 3.5, Leo Zerr 3.5, Jared Holland 3, Timmy Vang 2, Jake Holbrook 1.5.
Sacks: M-Werner, Hofstetter.
INT: M-Saugstad; G-Ethan Maass, Bennett Bielke, Carter Pinske.