By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield football team is moving on to the third round of the WIAA playoffs for the first time since 2012 after outlasting Menasha 26-20 in a Division 2 Level 2 matchup Friday night at Beell Stadium.
The Tigers (11-0) scored on three-straight possessions in the first half to open up a 20-0 lead, then hung on at the end to remain undefeated and advance to the state quarterfinals.
Marshfield will play one final game at legendary Beell Stadium next Friday, Nov. 2, when it hosts Pulaski (10-1) at 7 p.m. Pulaski advanced with a 27-21 win over River Falls.
“You try to establish the running game, but gosh, we have a good quarterback and five really good receivers,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “There’s a sign that hangs in my office from when I was in college from La Crosse, and it says the journey is most important. Every week they find something different and better to do. It’s the journey and that’s what we’re on.”
Marshfield took over on its second possession of the game at its own 33 and on the first play Brant Bohman scampered 55 yards to the Bluejays 12. On the next play, Ryan Krueger connected with Isaiah Baierl for a 12-yard touchdown pass and the Tigers led 6-0.
After taking over on its own 19 the next time they got the ball, the Tigers hit on another big play to get into scoring position. Following a timeout, Krueger hit Joey Goettl on a slant pattern and the junior receiver raced 65 yards down to the 10. Three plays later, Bohman scored from the 1 to make it 13-0.
Following a fake punt attempt by Menasha that was sniffed out by the Tigers’ defense, Marshfield took over at the Menasha 31 and three plays later, on the first play of the second quarter, Krueger threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Goettl for another score and Marshfield was up 20-0.
“They had one safety high over and we had to just hit that spot, and that’s where we got the good shots,” Joey Goettl said. “They were scooted over more and they couldn’t cover it. We just hit the spots every time.”
Menasha (9-2) turned to its running game, putting together a 12-play drive that ended with a fumble that was recovered by Marshfield’s Justin Stanek at the 22, but the Bluejays quickly got the ball back and this time were not denied as Riley Zirpel ran in from the 2 with 27 seconds to go before halftime to make it 20-7 at the break.
Marshfield answered that long drive with one of its own the first time it had the ball in the second half. The Tigers drove 53 yards in 13 plays. Krueger hit Isaac Meverden for a 13-yard gain on third-and-7 and two plays later Bohman ran in from the one again to put the Tigers on top, 26-7.
Marshfield’s defense turned away the Bluejays on downs at the Tigers’ 6 and again on their own 21. With the game, and their season on the line, Menasha had to turn to its passing game, and the Bluejays were able to make things interesting.
Cole Popp threw touchdown passes of 52 and 29 yards to Jordan Nichols, the second coming with 1:04 remaining, to get to within 26-20. However, Menasha had an illegal touching penalty on an onside kick attempt and Marshfield was able to kneel the final two plays as the Bluejays were out of timeouts.
“They leaned on us,” Denny Goettl said. “They started running the zone concept near the end of the first half and brought it back out. We were lucky we got enough points ahead, and we got some good breaks when they fumbled. We were relentless. We’re little, we just have to be tough.”
Menasha outgained the Tigers 388-263, and had 17 first downs to Marshfield’s eight, but the three early scores were enough for Marshfield.
Tigers 26, Bluejays 20
Menasha 0 7 0 14 – 20
Marshfield 13 7 6 0 – 26
MAR – Isaiah Baierl 12 pass from Ryan Krueger (pass failed), 8:03.
MAR – Brant Bohman 1 run (Mason Coffren kick), 1:53.
MAR – Joey Goettl 26 pass from Krueger (Coffren kick), 11:55.
MEN – Riley Zirpel 2 run (Max Kofnetka kick), 0:27.
MAR – Bohman 1 run (run failed), 2:40.
MEN – Jordan Nichols 52 pass from Cole Popp (Kofnetka kick), 3:03.
MEN – Nichols 29 pass from Popp (kick missed), 1:04.
First downs: Menasha 17; Marshfield 8.
Rushing (att-yards): MEN 48-216; MAR 35-107.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): MEN 11-24-172-0; MAR 8-13-156-0.
Total yards: MEN 388; MAR 263.
Penalties (no.-yards): MEN 7-40; MAR 6-47.
Fumbles (total-lost): MEN 1-1; MAR 0-0.
Punting (no.-avg.): MEN 2.30.0; MAR 3-43.7.
Rushing: MEN, Tyler Roehl 18-79, Riley Zirpel 16-78, Cole Popp 14-59. MAR, Brant Bohman 12-65, Caden Pearce 6-26, Isaiah Baierl 5-9, Ryan Krueger 12-7.
Passing: MEN, Popp 11-24-172-0. MAR, Krueger 8-13-156-0.
Receiving: MEN, Zirpel 5-39, Ben Romnek 4-52, Jordan Nichols 2-81. MAR, Joey Goettl 2-91, Isaac Meverden 2-25, Baierl 2-22, Bohman 2-18.
Fumble recoveries (defense): MAR, Justin Stanek.
Punting: MEN, Popp 2-30.0. MAR, Krueger 3-43.7.
Records: Menasha 9-2; Marshfield 11-0.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com and a contributor to focusonmarshfield.com.