MARSHALL - For the Marshall Tigers football team, 2012 began in near identical fashion to 2011, with a dominating 42-7 win over the Mankato East Cougars Friday night at Mattke Field.
"I was really happy with how we played up front and our physicality," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said.
Marshall dominated the trenches during the win, holding the Cougars to 127 yards of total offense. The Tigers gained 519 total during the win. They also sacked Mankato East's quarterback, Nic Seiler, five times.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall running back Rhett Struve evades Mankato East’s Adam Kratzke on a punt return in the second quarter of Marshall’s 42-7 victory over the Cougars Friday night at Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center.
"The way the holes were for all of backs, I thought our o-line was just tremendous," Bahlmann said.
The Tigers opened up the scoring on the games first possession. Marshall rushed the ball every play on an 11 play, 80 yard scoring drive, capped off with Brock Baumgarn's 10 yard scamper for a score. Tanner Cirks split the uprights for the extra point.
After forcing a Mankato East punt, the Tigers drove 92 yards for their second touchdown of the quarter with under 30 seconds left. Quarterback Austin Saugstad, making his first career start under center, found split end Tanner Cirks for the first of two touchdowns on the evening, this one a 33 yard strike in the end zone.
Leading 14-0 after the first quarter, the Tigers threatened to let Mankato East back into the game through turnovers.
After forcing a three-and-out to start the second quarter, Marshall's Leo Zerr muffed the ensuing punt. The Cougars recovered the ball, but were forced to punt after another three-and-out. Mankato's punt pinned the Tigers deep in their own territory.
Marshall managed to work its way out of the shadow of their own end zone, but turned the ball over again. Under pressure and about to be sacked, Saugstad showed his inexperience and attempted to throw the ball. It was intercepted by Anthony Wilson and returned 61 yards for a score. Mankato had cut the lead in half on one play.
The Tigers rebounded from their previous errs and put together yet another sustained drive. Marshall marched 95 yards on nine plays to score their third touchdown of the game, a three yard plunge by running back Rhett Struve.
Following another strong defensive stand by the Tigers defense, Struve returned the Cougar punt 21 yards to set up Marshall's fourth touchdown of the half.
With less than 90 seconds to play before half time, the Tigers went 49 yards on three plays to increase their lead to 28-7.
Cirks caught his second touchdown pass from Saugstad, a 19 yard fade to the back corner of the end zone. Also serving as Marshall's place kicker this season, Cirks led Marshall in scoring with 18 total points (two touchdowns and six extra points). He also led Marshall in receiving, with two catches for 52 yards.
Saugstad, who threw for 105 yards and two scores and ran for 56 yards, seems to have developed exceptional chemistry with Cirks and tight end Aaron Mathiowetz.
"I've really been working with those two in the passing game," Saugstad said. "They're two big targets that really do have great hands. It was something that was effective for us tonight."
"We felt like with our running game we could go to that when we wanted to," Bahlmann said of the Saugstad to Cirks connection. "Tanner's a big receiver and it was a tough match-up for them."
During the second half the Tigers began to grind out the game. After Saugstad threw his second interception of the game at the 8:08 mark of the third quarter, Marshall put the ball in the hands of its stable of rushers.
Marshall's ground attack overwhelmed the Cougars, with 11 Tigers combining for 414 yards on the ground. Mankato East only rushed for 26 yards.
Colton Citrowske led all Marshall ball carriers with 185 yards on 20 carries and also scored a touchdown. His 23 yard run with 3:36 to play in the third quarter finished off an eight play, 76 yard drive for Marshall and extended its lead to 35-7.
"I thought Citrowske was a bull in there, like we expected," Bahlmann said of his fullback.
Marshall's final score of the game came early in the fourth quarter. Following a Timmy Vang fumble inside the red zone, Stephen Womack picked up his teammate by forcing a Mankato East fumble on the very next play. Brock Baumgarn fell on the loose ball for the Tigers, who took over at the five yard line.
Vang held onto the ball and broke the plane for Marshall's sixth touchdown of the game on his next carry.
Marshall did lose the turnover battle 4-1, but controlled the scoreboard all night. The Tigers will look to clean up their play and limit their mistakes as they prepare to face the Fairmont Cardinals on Friday in Fairmont.
Mankato East0 7 0 0-7
Marshall14 14 7 7-42
M-Brock Baumgarn 10 run (Tanner Cirks kick), 6:42
M-Cirks 33 pass from Austin Saugstad (Cirks kick), 0:29
E-Anthony Wilson 61 interception return (Albert Podshivaylov kick), 6:31
M-Rhett Struve 3 run (Cirks kick), 2:22
M-Cirks 19 pass from Saugstad (Cirks kick), 0:40
M-Colton Citrowske 23 run (Cirks kick), 3:36
M-Timmy Vang 5 run (Cirks kick), 9:55
Rushing: M-Colton Citrowske 20-185, Rhett Struve 13-96, Austin Saugstad 4-56, Leo Zerr 2-27, Brock Baumgarn 4-18, Jack Bock 1-9, Austin Kesteloot 1-6, John Leos 1-5, Timmy Vang 3-5, Jeremiah Barker 1-4, Brad Bahlmann 2-3.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): M-Saugstad 7-11-105-2.
Receiving: M-Tanner Cirks 2-52, Aaron Mathiowetz 2-38, Struve 2-12, Baumgarn 1-3.
Tackles: M-Zerr 5, Campbell Hofstetter 4.5, Alex Werner 3, Jared Holland 3, Cirks 3.
Sacks: M-Werner 1, Cirks 1, Stephen Womack 1, Tyus Deboer 1, David Fischer 1.
INT: E-Anthony Wilson 1, Ronald Lowry 1; M-None.
FR: E-N/A; M-Baumgarn.