PREP FOOTBALL: Offensive onslaught
Marshall returns home, rolls past Tri-City United with high-octane offense in 49-6 win
MARSHALL – To say that the Marshall football team has gotten the better of Tri-City United in their past matchups would be putting it mildly. In their previous four meetings, the Tigers have outscored TCU 192-19, while averaging just under 50 points per game to the Titans’ five.
Friday’s installment in the series featured another dominant display by the Tigers.
Scoring early and often, the Tigers flexed their muscles offensively with a potent combination of power-running, misdirection plays and a successful aerial attack with multiple receivers reaping the benefits, fueling Marshall to a 49-6 victory over the visiting Titans.
Coach Terry Bahlman praised the unit for a more explosive effort with multiple players making big plays.
“I thought we were more explosive there and you know we went to our spread package and got the ball to Bryce Lance,” said Bahlmann. “Gabe (Raini) made a good run, Brayden (Hilgemann) had a good run, so we showed our explosiveness there.”
Bahlmann went on to credit quarterback Konnor Aufenthie for an improved performance.
“I thought it was much improved for him and we’re hoping he gets better each week,” said Bahlmann. “We’ve got some guys who can run after the catch, so we have to get the ball to those guys, but I thought he did a better job.”
The Tigers opened up the game with three straight offensive series with favorable field position where they went on to capitalize twice with a pair of scoring drives after seeing their opening series come to an end at the Titans two-yard line.
Wide receiver Bryce Lance was the first to find the end zone for the Tigers on a slant route from 25-yards out that gave Marshall a 6-0 lead, and Konnor Aufenthie his first touchdown pass of the season. The Aufenthie to Lance connection would strike again early in the second quarter for a 45-yard touchdown.
Lance said the team’s success through the air on Friday was a team effort.
“First of all, coach Bahlmann’s play-calling is unlike any other,” said Lance. “He knows how to get people open and obviously our line gave Konnor time to throw and Konnor puts it on me every time, so it’s just a whole team effort basically.”
After forcing the Titans to their first of four-straight three and outs, the Tigers found the end zone again when Aufenthie dropped back and delivered a strike to tight end Jack Bly for a 34-yard touchdown pass to extend their lead to 13-0. Aufenthie finished the half with 154 pass yards and three touchdown passes.
Running back Gabe Raini, who went off for four touchdowns in Marshall’s debut matchup against Fairmont, broke free for his fifth touchdown of the season on the team’s fourth drive beginning all the way back at their own 15-yard line. Raini opened the drive with a 26-yard run before breaking off a 54-yard touchdown run with a pair of would-be Titan tacklers left in his wake. Raini would finish the half with 108 yards on nine carries.
The Tigers went back to the ground-game with running back Hilgemann shouldering the load on the ensuing drive that ended with another long touchdown run, this time from 27-yards out, to give Marshall a 27-0 lead. Hilgemann added a 16-yard touchdown run late in the second half that gave the Tigers a 42-0 lead.
Not to be outdone, the Marshall defense provided a smothering effort throughout the first half by limiting the Titans to only five yards of offense, only one first down conversion and an interception by Austin Sommervold. The turnover was the first of three in the game for the Tigers as Lance and DeMario Gaines also added interceptions in the second half.
The final touchdown scored for Marshall came from fullback Jordan Mernaugh, who bull-dozed his was into the end zone in the third quarter to make it 49-0.
The Titans narrowly avoided being shutout thanks to a fluky 100-yard fumble recovery touchdown late in the fourth quarter. They would finish the game with only nine yards of total offense to Marshall’s 582.
Marshall (2-0) will be back in action on Friday when they take on Belle Plaine in another home matchup at 7 p.m.
After a few miscues on defense, Bahlmann hopes to see his team clean up their mistakes in the upcoming matchup.
“We had another (instance) where we didn’t have the right personnel on the field and those guys have to pay attention if we’re going to go multiple formations,” said Bahlmann. “They need to know which one they’re in on.”
Tri-City 0 0 0 6 — 6
Marshall 20 22 7 0 — 49
Marshall: Konnor Aufenthie to Bryce Lance 25-yard pass (PAT no good).
Marshall: Konnor Aufenthie to Jack Bly 35-yard pass (PAT good).
Marshall: Gabe Raini 53-yard run (PAT good).
Marshall: Brayden Hilgemann 27-yard run (PAT good).
Marshall: Konnor Aufenthie to Bryce Lance 45-yard pass (2-point good).
Marshall: Brayden Hilgemann 16-yard run (PAT good).
Marshall: Jordan Mernaugh 15-yard run (PAT good).
Tri-City United: Dawson Gindt 97-yard fumble return (PAT no good).
Individual Leaders (First half)
PASSING: Marshall (Aufenthie 9-13-164-3-0).
RUSHING: Marshall (P. Black 13-131-0, Raini 13-124-1, Aufenthie 2-55-0, Hilgemann 3-45-2).
RECEIVING: Marshall (Lance 5-91-2, Bly 1-35-1).