By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield offense was stagnant for much of the first half, but a spark came from the special teams just before halftime and it turned the game around for the Tigers.
Marshfield blocked a punt inside the 20-yard line and the Tigers scored a touchdown with 37 seconds to go in the half to start the onslaught as Marshfield went on to a 23-13 victory over Hortonville in the Valley Football Association opener for both teams on Friday night at Heiting Community Stadium.
Hortonville took a 13-0 lead on a pair of touchdown passes from Sam Dodd to Aiden Leist in the second quarter.
Marshfield had just two first downs up to that point, but the blocked punt in the final minute of the half gave the Tigers great field position at the 17. Two plays later, quarterback Trevor Foemmel ran in from the 12 and threw a two-point conversion pass to Garrett Willuweit to cut the deficit to 14-8 heading into halftime.
That play, Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said, was a game-changer not only for Friday’s contest, but possibly for the entire season.
“We scored a touchdown before halftime and the momentum was with us,” Goettl said. “I said at halftime, ‘You have to forgive me because I lost a little faith before we got that turnover (the blocked punt) and scored. But, you proved me wrong and made me thinking right.’
“We had a dramatic turnaround in the locker room and I think, if you talk to me later on this year, this could be remembered as a defining moment on what happened to our season and get us rolling past a great team.”
Marshfield took the lead for good on its first possession of the second half. The Tigers drove 42 yards on nine plays, and despite two holding penalties, scored with Jeff Marsh ran in from the 10. Foemmel hit Carson Kvernen for a two-point conversion and the Tigers led 16-13.
Hortonville’s best chance to score came after a fumbled punt midway through the fourth quarter and recovered at midfield.
Marshfield’s defense turned the Polar Bears away as a pair of penalties helped the cause.
Dodd was just 5-for-16 in the second half, with three of those completions coming in the final minute after Marshfield put the game away. The Tigers’ defense was relentless, especially in the second half, with three sacks and a number of hurries.
“We came together as a team, figured out what plays worked and what plays didn’t,” defensive lineman Zak Glaman said. “We all trusted one another.”
Marshfield’s final score came on a 12-yard run by Marsh with 51 seconds left after the Tigers took over on downs at the 14.
Foemmel, who was 1-for-9 and benched for a series in the first half, was a perfect 6-for-6 in the second half for an even 100 yards. He also finished with a team-high 69 yards rushing.
“I got mad,” Goettl said. “He maybe needed that and maybe it was a wake-up call. He said, ‘I ain’t going to do that again.’ The second half was better. He’s a running quarterback and a great thrower, a big kid and a lot going for him in the future. I’ve got to get him settled into what he can do in the present. It’s fun coaching him, you’ve got a lot to work with.”
Marshfield hosts Grantsburg for a nonconference game next Friday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live at zaleskisports.com.
Tigers 23, Polar Bears 13
Hortonville 0 13 0 0 - 13
Marshfield 0 8 8 7 - 23
H – Aiden Leist 28 pass from Sam Dodd (Drew Klein kick), 4:39.
H – Leist 19 pass from Dodd (kick missed), 2:46.
M – Trevor Foemmel 12 run (Garrett Willuweit pass from Foemmel), 0:37.
M – Jeff Marsh 10 run (Carson Kvernen pass from Foemmel), 4:38.
M – Marsh 12 run (Braxton Kurth kick), 0:51.
First downs: Hortonville 13; Marshfield 8.
Rushing (att-yards): H 28-102; M 34-111.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): H 10-28-173-0; M 7-17-109-1.
Total yards: H 275; M 220.
Penalties (no.-yards): H 4-22; M 6-51.
Fumbles (total-lost): H 1-1; M 3-2.
Punting (no.-avg.): H 6-32.3; M 7-36.8.
Rushing: H, Hunter Strange 20-98, Sam Dodd 8-4. M, Trevor Foemmel 17-69, Jeff Marsh 11-31, Matthew Trulen 5-15, Garrett Willuweit 1-minus 4.
Passing: H, Dodd 10-28-173-0. M, Foemmel 7-15-109-0, Cody Donahue 0-2-0-1.
Receiving: H, Brady Mashlan 4-59, Adam Leist 3-56, Strange 2-39, Jack Chirstnacht 1-19. M, Gavin Fravert 2-58, Carson Kvernen 2-24, Trulen 1-10, Willuweit 1-8.
Interceptions (defense): H, Miles Silas.
Fumble recoveries (defense): H, Bodie Schanhofer, August Maurer. M, Zak Glaman.
Records: Hortonville 2-1, 0-1 Valley Football Association; Marshfield 1-1, 1-0 VFA.