PREP FOOTBALL: Tigers tame Trojans
WORTHINGTON -- There was a festive atmosphere at Trojan Field on Friday night, as the Worthington Trojans and the Marshall Tigers renewed their long-time rivalry in a Southwest Conference high school football game.
Fans were treated to a competitive first half of action, but the undefeated (7-0 overall, 5-0 conference) and state-ranked (No. 8 in Class AAAA) Tigers dominated the second half with 35 unanswered points to extend a 21-7 halftime lead into a huge 56-7 victory over Worthington on 'Meet the Trojans' night.
Beau Bofferding, Mason Schnaible and Rhett Struve each scored two touchdowns to pace the Tigers, who clinched a share of the conference title and have a chance to win it outright when they host Luverne on Wednesday.
"We started off a little bit slow, but we got things going better in the second half," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said. "Worthington came out and played pretty well on both sides of the ball in the first half. Give the Trojans a lot of credit, as they stopped us a couple of times and completed some nice passes in the first half."
Lucas Henning (9-for-17, 121 yards) completed four passes on the Trojans' lone scoring drive of the night, including two apiece to Mitch Weg and Ethan Spittle. Weg's first catch came on a 42-yard bomb down the left sideline, while Spittle's second reception came on a short screen pass over the middle that he turned into a 29-yard touchdown.
Freshman Will Mulder then booted the extra point through the uprights, as Worthington trimmed Marshall's early lead to 14-7 with 6:13 remaining in the second quarter.
"The biggest thing we wanted to do was be competitive, and I thought that we battled right with Marshall in the first half," Worthington head coach Brad Grimmius said. "We had a very nice scoring drive there, as Lucas connected with Mitch and Ethan on four quality passing plays. We made some good plays and stayed competitive for two quarters against a high-scoring, state-ranked team."
Worthington's defense forced a pair of punts on three-and-outs in the first quarter and also stopped Marshall's final drive of the second quarter on a leaping interception in the end zone by A.J. Hayenga.
"We did some very nice things defensively in the first half," Grimmius said. "Marshall had to work hard for a lot of their yards, as they didn't have too many of the big plays that they are so accustomed to. A.J. made a great play to wrestle the ball away from the receiver for the interception, and we felt pretty good going into halftime down 21-7 rather than 28-7."
Marshall scored two touchdowns before Spittle found the end zone. Alex Fenske completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Schnaible with 6:01 remaining in the first quarter, and Bofferding barreled in for a three-yard touchdown run at the 10:18 mark of the second quarter.
Cameron Thompson kicked both of the extra points for the Tigers, who jumped out to a 14-0 lead.
Trojans drive 78 yards on seven plays
Worthington responded to Bofferding's first touchdown with a seven-play, 78-yard scoring drive. Henning found Spittle for a 13-yard gain on the first play, moving the ball from Marshall's 22 to the 35.
Three plays later, Henning connected with Weg down the left sideline for a 42-yard hookup. That same combination came through two plays later for a 13-yarder on a slant pattern, as the Trojans picked up their third first down of the march.
A false-start penalty set Worthington back five yards, but Henning then dumped a short screen pass to Spittle in the middle of the field. Spittle followed a convoy of blockers, weaving through Marshall's defense and crashing into the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown catch-and-run.
Mulder's PAT made it 14-7 with 6:13 showing on the clock.
"Ethan made some outstanding cuts on that play and showed his athletic ability," Grimmius said. "We executed everything on that play, as we had a good completion and great downfield blocking. Plus, we just brought Will up from the freshman team, so that was a highlight for him to kick that extra point."
Marshall responded with a 30-yard touchdown dash from Bofferding at the 3:49 mark, and Thompson's booming, left-footed PAT kick increased the Tigers' lead to 21-7.
Tigers dominate second half, pull away
Marshall gained and controlled field position throughout the second half, dominating the action with five touchdowns. The Tigers' first third-quarter score came on a 30-yard touchdown strike from Fenske to Schnaible (Thompson PAT good), extending the gap to 28-7 with 8:27 to go.
Marshall's next series ended on a 16-yard catch-and-run (Fenske to Struve), and Thompson made it 35-7 with his fifth extra point at the 4:25 mark.
Struve scored again on the final play of the third quarter, surging in for a 10-yard touchdown. Thompson's sixth perfect kick widened the gap to 42-7.
Colton Citrowske (27-yard run) and Melvin Dortch (three-yard plunge) scored Marshall's fourth-quarter touchdowns. Thompson added his seventh PAT, while Tanner Cirks booted a kick through the uprights to complete the scoring at 56-7.
"We didn't move the ball very well in the second half and gave Marshall a short field to operate on," Grimmius said. "They won the field-position battle and wore us out a little bit. Hopefully we'll have a short-term memory and come back ready to work next week."
Worthington (3-4, 2-3) will travel to Redwood Falls for its final regular-season game Wednesday, taking on the Redwood Valley Cardinals.
Marshall 7 14 21 14 -- 56
Worthington 0 7 0 0 -- 7