By Paul Lecker For Zaleski Sports
MARSHFIELD – Things looked bleak for the Marshfield football team in its bid to win a third-straight Valley Football Association West Division championship.
The Tigers trailed throughout, didn’t muster much of an offense attack for most of the game, and were backed up at their own 10-yard line with 1:55 to go and trailing by five points against rival D.C. Everest.
Suddenly, Marshfield’s passing game took shape and it put together a winning scoring drive that will go down in the annals of Marshfield High School football history.
On the final drive, quarterback Joey Goettl completed 5 of 8 passes for 87 yards, including the last 9 to wide receiver Simon Slade on the right sideline in the end zone with 29 seconds left, to lift the Tigers to an improbable 20-19 victory over D.C. Everest on Friday night at Heiting Community Stadium.
Marshfield finishes its VFA schedule with a 5-3 record, guaranteeing a spot in the WIAA playoffs and its third West Division title in a row.
“Our team is so resilient, it’s crazy,” Joey Goettl said. “No one had their heads down. Everybody came back at the right time, everybody came together as a team, and it couldn’t have been better. It’s nice to know that we are in the playoffs now and we’re just going to take every game week by week and see what happens from there.”
Marshfield’s defense stopped the Evergreens near midfield to force a punt with 5:09 to go, trailing 19-14.
The Tigers had a holding penalty set them back and were forced to punt with 2:56 remaining.
Again, the Tigers’ defense stepped up, forcing a three-and-out, and getting the ball back to the offense for one final chance at a game-winning drive.
Goettl and the offense took over at the 10 with 1:55 to go. He hit Wyatt LeMoine for completions of 32 and 5 yards to reach the Everest 48, then connected with Sam Hinson for 17 yards to push it to the 31.
After losing 2 yards on a running play, Goettl threw a ball up in the middle of the field that seemed like a Hail Mary, but it was a streaking LeMoine that the senior quarterback saw and it resulted in a 24-yard gain to give Marshfield a first down at the 9-yard line with 39 seconds left.
“He (LeMoine) was going left and I saw him beat his guy,” Joey Goettl said. “I just threw it and hoped to have him make a play. I’m so glad it happened.”
After a pair of incompletions, Goettl hit Slade on a fade in the end zone with 29 seconds left for the winning score. Goettl then sealed it with an interception on defense on the final play of the game.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Joey Goettl said of the winning touchdown. “I’m so glad it did. We just had the right mindset and we weren’t going to lose that game.”
D.C. Everest quarterback Ethan Ostrowski had an 85-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to give the Evergreens a 7-0 lead.
That score held until the Evergreens earned a safety when Goettl was called for intentional grounding in the end zone with 3:52 to go in the half.
D.C. Everest took the free kick and went 51 yards in six plays for another touchdown. A 51-yard pass from Ostrowski to Bryan Halambeck put the ball at the 1, momentarily. Halambeck was called for a taunting penalty, pushing it back to the 16, but three runs by Ostrowski, the final one from 1 yard out, gave the Evergreens a 16-0 lead with 1:16 to go before halftime.
Marshfield then put together its first solid offensive series, racing against the clock.
The Tigers took over at their own 34 and went 66 yards in nine plays to get on the scoreboard. A 14-yard pass from Goettl to LeMoine and a 19-yard completion to Hinson set up Marshfield at the 8, where two plays later, Goettl dived at the pylon for a touchdown with 3 seconds left before halftime, making it 16-7.
Bryce Morris kicked a 23-yard field goal with 1:32 to go in the third quarter to push the Evergreens’ lead to 19-7.
Marshfield got a spark from Slade as he returned a punt 39 yards on the second play of the fourth quarter, setting the Tigers up at the Everest 13. Goettl ran 11 yards and then scored from the 2, cutting the Tigers’ deficit to 19-14 with 10:32 left in the game.
Marshfield’s defense was able keep D.C. Everest out of scoring range and then get the ball back to the offense for the eventual game-winning drive.
“We called a couple of plays, but then Joseph said, ‘I got it,’” Marshfield head coach, and Joey’s father, Denny Goettl said. “He got Wyatt one-on-one with a kid, made a move rolling. He’s a mobile quarterback and he got out of some situations and found Wyatt down there. We worked a scramble drill the last two weeks because we’re scrambling quite a bit, and they are kind of getting it. I know there is a lot of luck involved in it, but you have to be a good player to be lucky. We were lucky and got good.”
Marshfield will finish its regular-season schedule with a nonconference home game against Sparta next Friday, Oct. 18.