MARSHALL - It could've been a different result for the Marshall Tigers, one more in line with recent results under head football coach Terry Bahlmann. Unfortunately turnovers and penalties popped up at the worst possible times, turning three potential touchdowns into no points in a 15-2 loss to Fairmont on Friday at the Schwan Regional Event Center.
"It started on the opening kickoff, when we got called for the hold," Bahlmann said. "That's a game-changer. We're up six or seven zip. Instead we start out at our own 10. We drive it down then fumble at the 5. We come back and fumble at about the 13, so there's three touchdowns there. If we take care of those we're in the ball game."
Marshall sophomore Drew Hmielewski nearly took the aforementioned opening kickoff to the house, but the touchdown was negated by a holding call. The Tigers then marched down the field when Hmielewski hauled in a third-down pass from quarterback Brad Bahlmann inside the Fairmont 10-yard line, but was stripped off the ball trying to extend the play. Fairmont recovered.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall junior running back Sam Marshall (32) is caught by a pair of Fairmont defenders in the first quarter of Marshall’s 15-2 loss to Fairmont on Friday at the Schwan Regional Event Center in Marshall.
The game didn't start out well for the Cardinals either, who sent their second offensive snap over the head of quarterback Spencer Chirpich and through the back of the end zone for a safety.
Marshall grabbed a 2-0 lead as a result, but was unable to build off on its lead after a short free kick by Fairmont. The ensuing Tiger drive stalled out, resulting in a turnover on downs in Cardinal territory.
Nick Saugstad's interception of Chirpich gave the Tigers the ball in prime scoring position again, but, again, the Tigers were unable to capitalize after starting out at the Fairmont 31.
Fairmont got the ball back three plays later when Sam Marshall lost a fumble.
The Tigers would go on to turn the ball over two more times in the game, one on an interception from Brad Bahlmann and another on a muffed kickoff in the waning moments of the game.
On the other hand, the Cardinals built momentum off of the missed chances for Marshall, including three more turnovers on downs in the red zone.
After being shut out for three quarters, the Cardinals broke through with a nine-yard touchdown pass from Chirpich to Cole Emler with 10 minutes, 2 seconds to play. The Cardinals went for two, with Chirpich connecting with Luke Becker to make the score 8-2.
"The defense played well in the first half, but we didn't play very well in the second half. We stopped their run, but our secondary, they ran the same play on us four times in a row," Bahlmann said. "You'd think after two or three we would have adjusted."
After a pair of punts by Marshall, Fairmont took possession with 5:40 remaining in the game and the ball on the Marshall 39.
Four minutes later Chirpich found Becker again, this time wide open in the back corner of the end zone for a five yard touchdown. Joe Weber tacked on the extra point to go up 15-2.
"It was 2-0 for a long time, a battle of field position. It was a tough game and they probably showed a little more heart than we did," Bahlmann said.
Fairmont squibbed the ensuing kickoff, which was muffed by the Tigers and recovered by the opposition. The Cardinals knelt out the rest of the clock.
The Tigers were unable to find any rhythm in their running game on the night, as Fairmont met the Marshall rushers in the backfield repeatedly.
Tigers fullback Jack Bock led Marshall with 38 yards on 10 carries, while Sam Marshall added 31 yards on 13 touches.
Brad Bahlmann completed 7 of his 12 pass attempts for 127 yards. Hmielewksi caught four of those for 99 yards. Bahlmann was also sacked on three occasions, as Fairmont linebackers found penetration on numerous blitzes.
Marshall, meanwhile, was unable to bring down Chirpich in the backfield, despite consistent pressure. The Cardinals quarterback finished his night 17-for-36 for 139 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Becker was his favorite target on the night, bringing in six catches for 40 yards and a score.
Defensive back Max Roelsema led Marshall with seven tackles, while Hmielewski, Jason Polzin and Sam Marshall each had 5 1/2 stops.
The Tigers averaged nearly 43 points per game in 2012, but have put up 15 total points through two games so far in 2013. The consecutive losses for Marshall to start the season marks the first time the Tigers have lost consecutive games in the same season since 2009. Fairmont's win over Marshall was its first since 2005 and snapped a four game losing streak to the Tigers.
Up next for Marshall (0-2 overall) is a Southwest Conference clash with the Luverne Cardinals at the Schwan Regional Event Center on Sept. 13.
FAIRMONT 15, MARSHALL 2
Fairmont0 0 0 15 - 15
Marshall2 0 0 0 - 2
F-Cole Emler 9 pass from Spencer Chirpich (Luke Becker pass from Chirpich good), 10:02
F-Becker 5 pass from Chirpich (Joe Weber kick good), 1:27
Rushing: M-Jack Bock 10-38, Sam Marshall 13-31, Brad Bahlmann 15-11, Nick Saugstad 3-6; F-Ben Abel 8-36
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): M-Brad Bahlmann 7-12-127-1; F-Spencer Chirpich 17-36-139-1
Receiving: M-Drew Hmielewski 4-99, Marshall 2-15, Saugstad 1-13
Tackles: M-Max Roelfsema 7, Jason Polzin 5.5, Hmielewski 5.5, Polzin 5.5, Tyus DeBoer 3; F-N/A
Sacks: M-none; F-N/A
INT: M-Saugtad; F-N/A
FR: M-None/ F-N/A