MARSHALL - For the 25 seniors on the Marshall Tigers football team, the message from head coach Terry Bahlmann going into Senior Night was simple.
Make it special.
They did just that, as the Tigers used a 509-74 rushing yard disparity to run away with a 49-0 victory over the Worthington Trojans Friday night at Mattke Field.
Photo by Travis Andries
Marshall quarterback Austin Saugstad (3)?prepares to take the snap from Seth Abel (69)?as Colton Citrowske (15) and Rhett Struve (4)?wait in the backfield in Friday night’s Southwest Conference game at Mattke Field at the Regional Event Center in Marshall.
"They have a lot of memories and put a lot of time and work and effort in, and we wanted to make a good memory for them," Bahlmann said. "It's their last regular season home game on that field. It was a good night for them. They all got to play a lot."
Leading the charge for the Tigers were two senior running backs. Colton Citrowske and Rhett Struve took advantage of the chasms created for them by their touted offensive line to combine for 334 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Citrowske led the Tigers in yards with 175, but it was Struve who did most of the scoring with three touchdowns.
His first score was also the team's first. On just the second play from scrimmage, Struve broke free between the guard and tackle and sprinted 64 yards for the touchdown just 22 seconds into the game.
On the following possession, Campbell Hofstetter recovered a fumble by Worthington quarterback Blake Schroeder to give the Tigers the ball on the 26-yard line. Marshall wasted little time in making the Trojans pay for their err, as Brock Baumgarn burst into the endzone from two yards out at 8:53 in the first quarter.
Leo Zerr picked off a Schroeder pass just two minutes later to set up a Struve 12-yard touchdown run. After Tanner Cirks kicked the extra point, the Tigers had a 21-0 lead with over half of the first quarter still to play.
The Tigers got their fourth touchdown of the quarter with 19 seconds remaining as Austin Saugstad hit Aaron Mathiowetz with a 9-yard touchdown pass. It was one of just three Tiger completions on the night, who ran at will against Worthington.
"That's always our game plan to start off," Bahlmann said of the Tigers rushing domination. "I thought we executed very well and were hitting on all cylinders on both sides of the football. I thought we played as well as we have all year in the first half."
Marshall added two more touchdowns in the second quarter, a one-yard Citrowske plunge at 9:30 and a 75-yard Struve bolt at 7:16. Struve, who had 159 yards rushing and three touchdowns on just five carries, made a late decision to play against the Trojans after sitting out all week with a lower-body injury.
"I didn't practice all week," Struve said. "I went shells on Thursday like normal, but I thought about it yesterday and today I told coach I'd play and if I got hurt I'd be done."
According to Bahlmann, Struve approached him after school and stated his intent to play on Senior Night.
"If he was willing to go, we were going to let him go on his senior night. It worked out great. He broke some long runs and had a good night," Bahlmann said.
Marshall's final points of the game came from sophomore running back Sam Marshall, who blasted his way into the endzone from four yards at 7:02 in the third quarter. After the touchdown, the Tigers salted away the game and managed to shutout their second consecutive opponent in the process.
Stephen Womack led the Tigers with six tackles, while Campbell Hofstetter had five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery. Both seniors set the tone for a hard hitting Tigers defense that held the Trojans to just 75 total yards and only one yard passing.
"We did a good job," Bahlmann said. "If we're going to throw a shutout, everyone needs to contribute. But I thought Campbell really had a good football game. I thought Hofstetter was outstanding in both the run game and pressuring the quarterback."
For Hofstetter, who mans the "warrior" position in Marshall's defense, the shutout and his strong play are a byproduct of the team mentality, from the coaches on down.
"We have some really good people up front, the bigs take care of their job," Hofstetter said. "The linebackers and people behind them, they do a really good job with their responsibilities. We just play well as a unit and play together as a team. The spot I'm in allows me to make plays. It was a good job by the coaches and the scouting report."
The Tigers (7-0 overall, 5-0 Southwest Conference) will have little time to pat themselves on the back after their win over Worthington. Marshall must prepare for a short week and a road trip to Luverne to take on the Cardinals (7-0, 5-0) on Wednesday. The winner between Class AAAA's sixth-ranked Tigers and Class AA's fifth-ranked Cardinals will decide the conference title.
"It's going to be an exciting night," Bahlmann said. "They're undefeated, we're undefeated and we're going to their place for a conference championship. It doesn't get any better than that."
Worthington0 0 0 0-0
Marshall28 14 7 0-49
M-Rhett Struve 64 run (Tanner Cirks kick), 11:38
M-Brock Baumgarn 2 run (Cirks kick), 8:53
M-Struve 12 run (Cirks kick), 6:24
M-Aaron Mathiowetz 9 pass from Austin Saugstad (Cirks kick), 0:19
M-Colton Citrowske 1 run (Cirks kick), 9:30
M-Struve 75 run (Cirks kick), 7:16
M-Sam Marshall 4 run (Cirks kick), 7:02
Rushing: W-Troy Eknitphong 11-52; M-Colton Citrowske 9-175, Rhett Struve 5-159, Sam Marshall 13-75.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): W-Blake Schroeder 1-10-1-1; M-Austin Saugstad 2-3-32-0, Aaron Polejewski 1-1-4-0.
Receiving: W-Will Mulder 1-1; M-Leo Zerr 1-23, Aaron Mathiowetz 1-9, Drew Hmielewski 1-4.
Tackles: M-Stephen Womack 6, Campbell Hofstetter 5, Brock Baumgarn 3.5, Tyus DeBoer 3.
Sacks: M-Hofstetter, Timmy Vang, David Fischer.
INT: W-None; M-Zerr.
FR: W-N/A; M-Hofstetter.