Comeback lifts MFL MarMac to 18-13 win over Denver

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/simpleads.helper.inc).
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

The MFL MarMac football team is moving on to the round of 16 in the Class 1A football playoffs, after edging Denver 18-13 in the Oct. 22 opener. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Austin Schlee (left), Gabe McGeough and Chauncy Drahn wrap up a Cyclone runner in MFL MarMac’s victory.

The Bulldogs racked up 377 yards of total offense against Denver, including 174 on the ground for senior fullback Gabe McGeough. “Just knowing this game could have been my last, I was just running as hard as I could and fought for every yard I got. I’m blessed to have the blockers I had,” he said.

Powell led the Bulldog defense with 9 total tackles, including one sack and three tackles for a loss.

Karter Decker rushed for 101 yards on seven carries and scored the Bulldogs' first touchdown.

Cullen McShane carried the ball 15 times against Denver, racking up 86 yards and two touchdowns.

MFL MarMac's "McDouble" rushing tandem, Gabe McGeough and Cullen McShane, celebrate the win with quarterback Carver Blietz-Bentien.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

The MFL MarMac football team is moving on to the round of 16 in the Class 1A football playoffs, after edging Denver 18-13 in the Oct. 22 opener.

 

“We knew it would be a tight ball game,” said head coach Dan Anderson. “Those linemen did a great job in the fourth quarter, just taking over. Our backs ran super hard and we didn’t make too many mistakes tonight. We just made a few more plays.”

 

He was proud of how the team responded following a tough loss to Beckman Catholic in the regular season finale.

 

“All week long I was on them about, ‘If you want to keep playing, you have to understand things are going to go wrong. They’re going to make some plays. We’re playing against a team that’s really good and at their place. We cannot get on each other, start getting frustrated and get negative with each other. We’ve been battle tested with our district and non-district games. We’ll figure out a way to win,’” Anderson shared.

 

Senior fullback Gabe McGeough admitted the team took the loss hard, but came together Monday to re-focus.

 

“It’s a new season—the postseason—so we rallied together, fixed our mistakes, and we know when we’re on, we can beat anybody,” he said. “We knew, if we lessened the turnovers and played a good game, we could get the W.”

 

The Bulldogs led 6-0 through halftime, thanks to an 80-yard touchdown by Karter Decker early in the first quarter. They made is 12-0 with 7:51 left in the third quarter, on a fourth down score from Cullen McShane.

 

Denver responded with a touchdown of its own, trimming the lead to 12-7, then took a 13-12 lead at the 9:46 mark in the fourth.

 

But MFL MarMac didn’t panic.

 

“Our kids stuck together. They didn’t get down,” said Anderson. “They actually smiled when it was 13-12. Those guys believe in themselves. They’ve been in a lot of tough games over the years.”

 

The Bulldogs reclaimed the lead, 18-13, with 5:27 left in the game, when McShane scored his second touchdown of the night. But Anderson credited a 15-yard bootleg completion from quarterback Carver Blietz-Bentien to Kade McElwaine earlier in the drive as the play of the game.

 

“[Denver] had a lot of momentum going, and if we throw an incompletion there and have to punt, boy, they’re jacked up,” he said.

 

Then, the Bulldog defense did its job. 

 

Earlier in the half, Anderson said assistant coach Kyle Kirkestue determined that, if the Cyclones’ split ends came in tight, the team was going to run a jet sweep. Linebacker Wyatt Powell capitalized on that knowledge to stall Denver’s final offensive series.

 

“We had a good idea what they were trying to hit, and Powell was able to shoot in there, beat the block and make a big tackle for loss, which pushed them back and gave us a good chance to get the ball back,” Anderson explained.

 

When MFL MarMac took back possession late in the game, McGeough said the team knew a steady march down the field would seal the victory.

 

“First down, next first down, next first down. We knew we didn’t need a big play,” he said. “We just needed six, seven yards to chunk it down the field.”

 

“It feels good knowing we can win these tight games,” McGeough added. “When things weren’t going our way, we rallied together as a team to figure it out.”

 

The Bulldogs racked up 377 yards of total offense against Denver, and their 18 points was the second-highest amount scored on the Cyclones this season.

 

“We were running plays we wanted to and were actually going end over to get their defense to shift so we could run plays like the trap play. We were able to double team their really good nose guard. Then, they are such an aggressive defense, we were able to pull and trap a kick out and that was able to get Gabe up the middle on a lot of plays,” Anderson shared. “We were able to move the ball, and Gabe had 174 yards on the ground.”

 

“Our offense is an ‘if-then’ offense,” the coach added. “If they’re doing this, then we’re going to run this. We’ve got a play to hit every single gap out there. We’ve just got to know where they’re lining up, where their best defensive lineman is and how we want to attack.”

 

McGeough had those 174 yards on a team-high 22 carries. 

 

“Just knowing this game could have been my last, I was just running as hard as I could and fought for every yard I got. I’m blessed to have the blockers I had,” he said.

 

Decker added 101 yards and a touchdown on seven carries, while McShane touched the ball 15 times, racking up 86 yards and two touchdowns.

 

Blietz-Bentien completed just one pass on the night, the 15-yarder to McElwaine. 

 

Defensively, MFL MarMac held the Cyclones to a combined 169 yards, including only 72 on the ground.

 

“Our defense kept them off the board for most of the game. Even when they did score, we made it tough on them,” Anderson said. “They put up a lot of points this year, and we did a really good job stopping the run. Our DBs did a good job tonight, other than slipping once. Our linebackers did great, and our D line did their job. We made plays when we needed to stop those guys.”

 

Powell led the Bulldogs with 9 total tackles, including one sack and three tackles for a loss. McShane had 7.5 tackles as well as an interception and a fumble recovery, while McGeough tallied 7 tackles—1.5 of which were for a loss—and a sack. Other leading tacklers included Decker with 7.5, Austin Schlee with 4.5 and Chauncy Drahn and Bryce Radloff each with 2.5.

 

Anderson said a key was that the defense was lined up correctly.

 

“Against Beckman, we were lined up incorrectly defensively a couple times. That cost us a few times. Tonight, we were lined up perfectly,” he explained. “Gabe is a coach on the field. When he’s out there defensively, the guys are always confident. He makes all the right calls.”

 

With the victory, Anderson said the team now feels like it’s earned its playoff banner.

 

“We’ve won a playoff game in each of the last three years, and against such good competition. These guys are road warriors,” he said.

 

The Bulldogs (7-2) will hope to keep that road success going on Friday, Oct. 29, when they head to Iowa City Regina (9-0). 

Rate this article: 
No votes yet