MARSHALL - In their four previous wins on the 2012 season, the Marshall Tigers have relied on a run game that has been a staple of coach Terry Bahlmann's teams since he took over the head coaching reins. On Friday, however, the Tigers used their vaunted ground attack primarily as a decoy, taking to the air for 236 yards and four scores in a 45-14 victory over the Pipestone Area Arrows at Mattke Field.
"We wanted to make some big plays in the passing game and we were able to do that," Bahlmann said. "We know our run game's been our weapon so far, and we wanted to show people we can throw the football when we want to."
Marshall got its first touchdown just a minute and 53 seconds into the game. Although fullback Colton Citrowske rumbled in from eight yards out for the score, it was set up by a 55-yard pass from quarterback Austin Saugstad to tight end Aaron Mathiowetz on the game's first play from scrimmage. Pipestone would block Marshall's PAT try, making it Tanner Cirks' first miss on the season.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall quarterback Austin Saugstad attempts to evade a sack from Pipestone’s Brady Claussen in the second quarter Friday night at Mattke Field. Saugstad threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns in Marshall’s 45-14 homecoming victory.
The Tigers would get the point back, plus one more, when the Arrows snapped the ball over the head of punter/quarterback Jacob Derby on the ensuing possession. Derby would kick the ball out of the back of the endzone for a Tiger safety with 8:43 to play in the first quarter.
Following the free kick, Saugstad would throw his second of four touchdowns on a play-action pass to Cirks. Marshall's leading receiver ran 52 yards on a fly route past his coverage to reel in the score. Cirks' second PAT attempt of the night would not be blocked as he split the uprights to give Marshall a 15-0 lead with 7:54 left in the first quarter.
The Class AAAA seventh-ranked Tigers picked up their third touchdown of the first quarter three minutes later when Rhett Struve sprinted 34 yards and into the endzone.
Cirks hauled in his second touchdown of the game at the 7:23 mark of the second quarter on a 25-yard pass from Saugstad to extend the Tiger lead to 29-0. The senior split end/defensive end/place kicker finished the game with four catches for 106 yards and the two scores. But according to Cirks, the credit goes to Saugstad.
"Saugstad was doing a really good job throwing balls tonight," Cirks said. "He was right on the spot."
Bahlmann agreed with the assessment of his senior quarterback.
"We made the big play with Mathiowetz early in the game, and then hit Cirks a couple times. I thought Austin did a really nice job throwing the football," Bahlmann said.
For Saugstad, who finished the game with 232 yards passing and four touchdowns, the breakout passing performance was the culmination of some extra confidence and a little extra time from his blockers.
"I just built a little confidence at practice this week," Saugstad said. "I just felt more comfortable going into the game. Tonight my (offensive) line and running backs did a great job giving me time with pass blocking."
The Arrows, though, struck back immediately. On the following kickoff, Alex Ossefort broke a couple tackles and chugged down the field to the two-yard line. Marshall's defense almost held Pipestone without points despite the disadvantage, but Derby was able to find Josh Mabon on fourth down for a 6-yard strike to finally get on the board.
Marshall (5-0 overall, 3-0 Southwest Conference) answered back with a five-minute drive that culminated in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Saugstad to Mathiowetz with just 30 seconds left in the first half. Saugstad faked the handoff to Citrowske while Mathiowetz released from his blocking assignment and snuck behind the Pipestone linebackers, catching Saugstad's pass just inside the endzone.
"Really we relied on the play action to try and suck them in and get behind the linebackers," Mathiowetz said.
With the Tigers already having scored twice on the ground, the Arrows were forced to honor the run and open up the play-action game for the Tigers.
"We knew they would play about four linebackers and that we could probably hit them deep," Mathiowetz said.
The threat of the run allowed Saugstad to have his best game as a Tiger so far, though he played almost exclusively in the first half.
"We were hoping to establish the run game a little bit," Saugstad said. "We got into some situations where we could throw it and we were able to take advantage of it."
Saugstad's last pass of the game was a 43-yard touchdown to Struve on a third-down screen pass at the 9:26 mark of the third quarter.
Though they were down 43-7, the Arrows refused to give up. Derby connected for another touchdown, this one on a 20-yard toss to Sawyer Pals in the third quarter. Pipestone's, and especially Derby's, no-quit attitude impressed their opposition.
"Their quarterback did a nice job," Bahlmann said. "We had some good hits on him and he kept coming back and competing hard."
The Tiger's defense was dominant yet again, holding Pipestone to 108 total yards, whereas Marshall gained 233 yards via its running game.
With a homecoming win in the books, the Tigers will put away their orange jerseys and pull out their whites as Marshall will take to the road on Friday for a Southwest Conference contest with the Windom Eagles.
Pipestone 0 7 7 0-14
Marshall22 14 7 2-45
M-Colton Citrowske 8 run (kick failed), 10:07
M-Tanner Cirks 52 pass from Austin Saugstad (Cirks kick), 7:54
M-Rhett Struve 34 run (Cirks kick), 4:30.
M-Cirks 25 pass from Saugstad (Cirks kick), 7:23.
P-Josh Mabon 6 pass from Jacob Derby (Derby kick), 5:18.
M-Aaron Mathiowetz 9 pass from Saugstad (Cirks kick), 0:30.
M-Struve 43 pass from Saugstad (Cirks kick), 9:26.
P-Sawyer Pals 20 pass from Derby (Derby kick), 1:26.
Rushing: M-Rhett Struve 13-99, Colton Citrowski 9-47, Sam Marshall 5-34, John Leos 2-14, Austin Saugstad 2-13.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): P-Jacob Derby 14-29-95-0; M-Austin Saugstad 8-13-232-0, Brad Bahlmann 2-3-4-0.
Receiving: M-Tanner Cirks 4-106, Struve 2-64, Aaron Mathiowetz 2-62.
Tackles: M-Brock Baumgarn 5.5, Alex Werner 5, Brad Bahlmann 4, Stephen Womack 3.5, Campbell Hofstetter 3.5.
Sacks: Cirks, Hofstetter, Nate Boon.