WASECA - For much of three quarters, the Marshall Tigers stayed close to the Class 4A No. 2-ranked Waseca Bluejays.
Despite Marshall's 33-6 loss in the Section 2 Tournament semifinal game, the Tigers defense was able to keep Waseca quarterback Thomas O'Neill at bay for the first 38 minutes of the contest.
"We knew, with the kind of player O'Neill can be, we wanted to shut him down," Tigers head coach Terry Bahlmann said. "We wanted Waseca's passing game to beat us and, with the way the wind was blowing, he could only throw to one corner of the field. We wanted him to have to do that."
Photo by Jeff Arenz
Marshall’s Tom Roelfsema (52) attempts to tackle Waseca’s Thomas O’Neill during a Class 4A Section 2 Tournament semifinal game Saturday at Waseca High School. The Tigers’ Nick Saugstad (23) watches the play develop.
A stiff wind, blowing from the near sideline to the far sideline, negated the passing attack of both teams.
MHS (6-4 overall) trailed 12-0 at halftime before Reece Winkelman lifted the Tigers by making a key defensive play. He stepped in front of an O'Neill pass on the third play from scrimmage in the third quarter and returned his interception 35 yards to Waseca's 1-yard line.
Two plays later, Marshall quarterback Brad Bahlmann plunged into the end zone from one yard out at the 10:18 mark. Paul Citrowske's extra-point kick was blocked by Jimmy Ebertowski, who came flying around the left side of the line before the ball deflected off his chest.
With the score being 12-6 with 25 minutes remaining, the Tigers were looking for an upset.
"We saw a team that was big, physical and well-coached in Marshall for the last 10 years since Terry (Bahlmann) has been there," Bluejays head coach Brad Wendland said. "The Tigers are a young team and, I think our senior leadership was the difference."
Wendland said the Tigers' defense was one that WHS had not seen much of this season.
"It looked like Marshall was trying to take away the inside run," Wendland said. "Our quarterback has run for a lot of yards and that usually comes on pulls inside. Marshall did a great job of taking that away, especially on three days of prep."
Waseca (9-0 overall) built its 12-0 first-half lead on Brady Bomsta's 3-yard first-quarter TD run and O'Neill's 11-yard second-quarter touchdown strike to Tyler Kolander.
Before the Bluejays went ahead by 12 points, Marshall had an opportunity to tie the game in the second quarter. Down 6-0 at the time, the Tigers marched from their own 41 to the Waseca 13, where MHS faced a fourth-and-goal.
After a timeout, Brad Bahlmann tossed high-arcing spiral to the end zone, where Andrew Hmielewski appeared to have caught the ball with a leap in the left corner before Jacob Laube knocked it out of the hands of the receiver. Officials ruled the pass was not complete.
"We competed hard and there were a couple of breaks that didn't go our way," Terry Bahlmann said. "Whether of not Drew caught the pass in the end zone, the final line is that it was ruled incomplete. We also had a holding call that went against us. But our kids played hard and that is what we expect from them."
Early in the fourth quarter, Hmielewski ran back a punt 53 yards to the Waseca 22, but the return was negated by a holding call. Hmielewski was also shaken up on the play before returning to the MHS sideline on his own.
The Bluejays took over possession after Marshall's incompletion in the end zone and drove 76 yards before O'Neill turned the momentum Waseca's way. His 11-yard TD toss to Kolander handed the Bluejays a 12-0 lead with 33.1 seconds left in the first half.
After Tigers trimmed their deficit to 12-6 in the third quarter, Waseca responded with a 10-play, 56-yard drive that gave the Bluejays their original 12-point lead back. O'Neill capped that possession with a 4-yard TD before his two-point conversion run failed. WHS went ahead 18-6 with 6:51 left in the third quarter.
Waseca dominated the fourth quarter, rushing for a pair of touchdowns behind O'Neill, from one yard away with 8:27 left, and Dylan Hermanstorfer, from 13 yards out with 1:15 remaining.
The Bluejays had a slim edge in first downs, 14-13, and a larger margin in total yards, 319-263.
O'Neill, who led all rushers with 145 yards on 25 carries, gained 45 yards on nine first-half rushing attempts. Brad Bahlmann topped all MHS rushers with 89 yards on 16 carries.
Brad Bahlmann finished 8 of 17 for 59 yards, while O'Neill ended up 4 of 12 for 47 yards.
After the game, Terry Bahlmann acknowledged the accomplishments of each of Marshall's 11 senior players. He said they had not experienced a lot of success early-on in their high school careers, but he was proud of them and their character for staying with the MHS program for four years.
The Tigers seniors include Citrowske, Austin Kesteloot, Jordan Prellwitz, Kier Gach, Jeremiah Barker, Tim Amick, Hunter Greve, Jason Polzin, Mason Campion, Cody Kruger and Tyus DeBoer.
The No. 2-ranked Bluejays travel to play No. 1-ranked Hutchinson (9-0 overall) in the Section 2 Tournament championship game 7 p.m. Friday. The Tigers defeated Dassel-Cokato 41-0 in another semifinal game Saturday.
WASECA 33, MARSHALL 6
W - Brady Bomsta 3 run (Brady Bomsta run failed), 4:45.
W - Tyler Kolander 11 pass from Thomas O'Neill (O'Neill pass failed), 0:33.
M - Brad Bahlmann 1 run (Paul Citrowske kick blocked), 10:18.
W - Thomas O'Neil 4 run (O'Neill run failed), 6:51.
W - Thomas O'Neill 1 run (Brady Bomsta run), 8:27.
W - Dylan Hermanstorfer 13 run (Dylan Hermanstorfer kick), 1:15.
Time of Possession25:3022:30
RUSHING - Marshall (Brad Bahlmann 16-89, Sam Marshall 13-53, Austin Kesteloot 2-24, Jordan Prellwitz 1-13, Jack Bock 2-4, Andrew Hmielewski 2-minus 1, Nick Saugstad 1-minus 5); Waseca (Thomas O'Neill 25-145).
PASSING - Marshall (Brad Bahlmann 8-17-59-0-1, Aaron Polejewski 0-2-0-0-0); Waseca (Thomas O'Neill 4-12-47-1-1).
RECEIVING - Marshall (Sam Marshall 3-16, Andrew Hmielewski 2-13, Nick Saugstad 1-17, Jacob Falconer 1-12, Matt Thompson 1-1); Waseca (not available).
TACKLES - Marshall (Collin Reilly 7.0, Brad Bahlmann 6.0, Andrew Hmielewski 5.5, Jason Polzin 5.0, Tyus DeBoer 4.0, Reece Winkelman 4.0, Sam Marshall 3.5, Max Roelfsema 3.0, John Lothert 2.5, Tom Roelfsema 2.5, Nick Saugstad 1.5, Hunter Greve 0.5); Waseca (Tyler Kolander 8.5, Brady Bostma 7.0).
SACKS - Marshall (none); Waseca (none).
INTERCEPTIONS - Marshall (Reece Winkelman 1); Waseca (Nick Buchele 1).