MARSHALL - During the span of 13 seconds, control of the Southwest Conference football race was decided Friday night at The Schwan Regional Event Center.
Jackson County Central's Zach Holm returned the second-half kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown, and the Huskies erupted to score 28 unanswered points to preserve a 35-14 victory over the Marshall Tigers.
"You get a play like that and it raises your shoulders up," JCC head coach Tom Schuller said. "Then, we went for two because we were feeling our oats a little bit. I'm a little zany with the two-point conversion chart because I go more by how the situation feels. We got it, took the lead and our intensity went through the roof."
Photo by Jeff Arenz
Marshall quarterback Brad Bahlmann looks for a receiver in the first half of the Tigers’ game against Jackson County Central on Friday night. Providing protection up front is center Jason Polzin.
Trailing 14-7 at halftime, the Huskies received the ball to start the third quarter. Holm grabbed the ball at the MHS 20, ran through a mass of tacklers, veered to the near sideline and scampered to the end zone.
JCC went ahead 15-14 after Keegan Moore ran in the two-point conversion with 11:47 showing.
The kickoff return silenced an excited Marshall crowd that had watched the Tigers battle back from an early 7-0 deficit to take a seven-point lead at the break.
"At halftime, we felt comfortable with where we were at, and we told our kids that the first drive of the second half was going to be a huge one," Marshall head coach Terry Bahlmann said. "We stopped the initial return in the middle, but (JCC) broke it off to the outside and we were not disciplined on our contain. That play changed the whole half."
JCC, ranked 10th in Class AA, improved to 5-1 overall and 4-0 against the Southwest Conference, while MHS fell to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in conference play.
The Huskies controlled the tempo and the clock in the second half by running the ball effectively. JCC outgained the Tigers 342-253 in total yards by having a 244-172 advantage in rushing yards.
Keegan Moore ran for a pair of second-half touchdowns.
He reached the end zone from 28 yards out with 4:47 left in the third quarter, extending the Huskies' lead to 21-14. In the fourth quarter, Moore capped JCC's scoring with a 20-yard TD run with 5:27 left.
Moore topped all rushers after compiling 139 yards on 15 carries, most of which came in the second half. During the final 24 minutes, he ran for 111 yards on eight carries.
"We became a different team in the second half," Schuller said. "Our shoulders were not slumped anymore. We started coming off the ball better and winning the physical battle, which I'm not sure if we had won that in the first half."
Paden Moore had the Huskies other second-half touchdown, which came on a 1-yard plunge with 9:09 remaining.
Once JCC had the lead, it was able to pin back Marshall in the second half by punting the ball twice inside the Tigers' 20-yard line. One MHS drive started at its own 16 and became a three-and-out. The other began at the Tigers' 5 and ended on Nick Saugstad's fumble two plays later.
With the Marshall defense protecting the red zone, Reece Winkleman bailed out the Tigers on 3rd-and-9 from the MHS 10, where he intercepted Huskies quarterback Shadrach Wacker.
That was about the only momentum Marshall built after halftime.
"In the first half, we were moving the ball, and in the second half (JCC) was double-teaming (Drew) Hmielewski and we're not a good team on 2nd-and-long or 3rd-and-long," Bahlmann said. "We need to be able to run the football."
JCC went ahead 7-0 on its first possession, which ended with Wacker's 86-yard TD strike to Darnell Taylor-Breck at the 5:26 mark in the first quarter.
But the Tigers responded quickly, needing only three plays and 62 seconds to score. Brad Bahlmann's 50-yard run to the JCC 22 set up Sam Marshall's TD carry on the next play.
The Huskies remained ahead 7-6 after a PAT kick by Marshall's Drew Tykwinski sailed wide left.
Midway through the second quarter, Tyus DeBoer, Hunter Greve and Colin VanKeulen combined to tackle Keegan Moore for a 1-yard gain on 4th-and-4 at MHS 39.
The turnover on downs allowed Marshall's offense to march 61 yards on nine plays to the end zone.
Drew Hmielewski ran for 24 yards to the JCC 37 on the initial play of the drive before Sam Marshall converted a 3rd-and-1 into a first down on a 2-yard dive to the Huskies' 16.
Brad Bahlmann's fade pattern to the right side of the end zone came down in the arms of 6-foot-3 tight end Jacob Falconer, who outjumped his defender for for a 17-yard touchdown on 4th and 11.
Brad Bahlmann then rolled to the right to connect with Saugstad for a two-point conversion and a 14-7 MHS lead with 2:32 left in the first half.
JACKSON COUNTY CENTRAL 35, MARSHALL 14
JCC7 0 14 14 - 35
Marshall6 8 0 0 - 14
JCC - Darnell Taylor-Breck 86 pass from Shadrach Wacker (Marek Bingel kick), 5:26.
M - Sam Marshall 22 run (Drew Tykwinski kick failed), 4:04.
M - Jacob Falconer 17 pass from Brad Bahlmann (Nick Saugstad pass from Brad Bahlmann), 2:32.
JCC - Zach Holm 80 kickoff return (Keegan Moore run), 11:47.
JCC - Keegan Moore 28 run (Keegan Moore run failed), 4:47.
JCC - Paden Moore 1 run (Marek Bingel kick), 9:09.
JCC - Keegan Moore 20 run (Marek Bingel kick), 5:27.
RUSHING - JCC (Keegan Moore 15-139); Marshall (Brad Bahlmann 11-62, Sam Marshall 16-47, Drew Hmielewski 4-37, Jordan Prellwitz 1-9, Jack Bock 3-9, Jeremiah Barker 1-5, Austin Kesteloot 1-1, Jason Polzin 1-0, Jacob Deines 1-minus 7, TEAM 2-9).
PASSING - JCC (Shadrach Wacker 3-6-98-1-1); Marshall (Brad Bahlmann 8-13-77-1-0, Jacob Deines 1-2-4-0-0).
RECEIVING - JCC (not available); Marshall (Sam Marshall 5-57, Drew Hmielewski 3-7, Jacob Falconer 1-17).
TACKLES - Marshall (Tyus DeBoer 9.0, Jason Polzin 4.0, Collin Reilly 3.0, Reece Winkelman 3.0, Colin VanKeulen 3.0).
TACKLE FOR LOSS - Marshall (Reece Winkelman).
INTERCEPTION - Marshall (Reece Winkelman).