By Steve Pilz
For Zaleski Sports
AUBURNDALE - The Auburndale Eagles football team grabbed their fifth win of the season with a 23-8 win over Marathon on Friday night at Auburndale High School, but it didn’t come easy.
A glance at the statistics would indicate a blowout, but the Eagles got bit by the turnover bug to the tune of four interceptions, making it a much closer game than anticipated.
The Eagles peeled off an 11-play drive to open the game only to see a tipped pass picked off in the end zone.
Marathon had trouble moving the ball most of the night and the first series was no exception. The Raiders were forced to punt after from their own end zone after three plays and when the snap sailed over the punter’s head, the Eagles had a 2-0 lead with the safety.
Auburndale ran 11 more plays and moved the ball to the Marathon 9 before handing it over on downs.
The Raiders had to punt again after just three plays and this time the Eagles cashed in. On the second play of the second quarter, quarterback Trayton Weber drilled Alex Wilfarht with a 14-yard dart to make it 9-0.
Weber tossed another interception the next time Auburndale got the ball back, by Marathon’s Mason Seehafer, but the Raiders fumbled it back on the very next play.
The Eagles went on a 12-play drive to end the half but again came up empty, giving Marathon more than a little hope going into the second half.
“We really struggled to finish offensively,” said Auburndale coach Jay Anderson. “We had those drives early on. We just couldn’t finish. We knew they were going to come with energy. We told our guys that and I’m not sure they really believed it because they’d stop us and then get really fired up.
“We were up by nine and they’d get a stop and be like sky-high. We didn’t match that type of excitement. I don’t want to take anything away from our guys, but it was a struggle here at times. I give Marathon a lot of credit because you could see their energy and they were fighting for a playoff spot. Have to give them all the credit in the world.”
Weber hit Wilfahrt again for a score, this time from six yards out, with 4:42 left in the third and then Tim Schmitt from 10 yards out with 4:54 left in the game, making it 23-0.
Game over? Not for Marathon.
Having gained just 53 yards in the first three quarters the Raiders put up 98 yards in the fourth, 87 of them from the arm of quarterback Ben Robbins. The senior went 6-for-12 for 87 yards. Nathan Hanke ran in a 7-yard touchdown and converted the 2-point conversion on a rush as well to make it 23-8 late.
The Raiders used their timeouts to no avail as the Eagles ran out the clock.
Auburndale, which improves to 2-1 in the Marawood Conference (5-1 counting three forfeit wins), will play at Colby (3-0) on Oct. 15 in need of a win to grab a share the conference title. Marathon (1-7, 0-4 Marawood) will finish its season with a nonconference game at Rosholt.
Eagles 23, Raiders 8
Marathon 0 0 0 8 - 8
Auburndale 2 7 7 7 - 23
A – Safety, snap on punt out of end zone, 6:17.
A - Alex Whilfahrt 11 from Trayton Weber (Jesse Fowler kick), 11:22.
A - Wilfahrt 6 from Weber (Fowler kick), 4:42.
A - Tim Schmitt 10 from Weber (Fowler kick), 4:54.
M - Nathan Hanke 7 run (Hanke run), 3:43.
First downs: M 9; A 24.
Rushing (att.-yards): M 20-45; A 47-176.
Passing (att.-comp.-yards-int): M 10-21-106-1; A 20-32-205-4.
Total yards: M 151; A 381.
Fumbles (total-lost): M 2-2; A 0-0.
Penalties (no.-yards): M 4-30; A 3-35.
Rushing: M, Hanke 8-23, Ben Robbins 6-17, Tyler Underwood 3-6, Noah Gage 3-4. A, Terrance Cottrell Roberson 19-72, Evan Scholl 6-57, Weber 22-47.
Passing: M, Robbins 10-21-106-1. A, Weber 20-32-205-4.
Receiving: M Underwood 3-56, Jaden Koeller 4-43, John Stoffel 1-5, Hanke 1-2, Mason Seehafer 1-minus 4. A, Schmitt 9-68, Wilfahrt 6-90, Aden Cherney 4-27.
Records: Marathon 1-7, 0-4 Marawood Conference; Auburndale 5-2, 2-1 Marawood Conference.