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MCC hangs on against Wabasso, 20-12

Photo by Sam Thiel MCC’s Dylan Johnson tries to power his way through a group of Wabasso defenders during their game on Saturday.

MARSHALL — Both the Murray County Central and Wabasso football teams started their seasons on an offensive roll, with the Rebels averaging 32.5 points per game and the Rabbits averaging 39.5 points per contest. But that high-scoring production would be held to a premium when the two teams met on Saturday and became deadlocked in a tight battle.

An initial slow start quickly turned into a back-and-forth, low-scoring affair, with the game going down to the final minutes and MCC was able to make enough plays down the stretch to hold on and earn a 20-12 victory against Wabasso at Mattke Field at Southwest Minnesota State University.

MCC quarterback Blake Schmitz said he was pleased with their overall effort on both sides of the football but knows there’s always something that can be improved upon.

“Our defense played outstanding. They were very physical, our line did their assignments very well and doing everything they could and it made it easier for the skills positions to get downhill and run,” Schmitz said. “We didn’t have too many mental breakdowns, so I would say we played an absolute great game, but there’s always room for improvement.”

With a light snow coming down and cold temps filling the air, neither side could get much going in the opening quarter, as the game remained scoreless after one. MCC quickly ended that streak on its third offensive possession, beginning the second quarter with a drive that went to the Wabasso 8-yard line before Schmitz found the end zone on a short keeper. Dylan Johnson then ran in the 2-point conversion to give the Rebels an 8-0 lead with 10:16 left in the first half.

That would be the most momentum in the first frame by either side, as Wabasso and MCC both turned it over on downs to close the half. In need of a spark, Wabasso found it right away to begin the second half, as a deep pass from Carter Benz to Will Carlson paved the way for a 4-yard run by Nick Marotzke to get the Rabbits on the board and draw to within 8-6 after the failed 2-point conversion.

MCC had a response, however, marching all the way into Wabasso’s red zone before facing a fourth-and-3 from the Rabbits 17-yard line. Schmitz would take the ball himself and maneuver his way into the end zone for the 17-yard scoring run to make it 14-6 after the 2-point conversion was no good with 3:08 left in the third quarter.

After both teams traded empty possessions, the Rabbits put together another strong drive of their own, getting to the MCC 15. On fourth-and-5, Benz found Carlson for a first down to extend the drive before Marotzke scored on a one-yard run to cut the deficit to just two again. The 2-point conversion to tie came up just short, keeping the score at 14-12 with 6:09 to go.

But the Rebels once again had a timely answer, with MCC going to the ground game before Schmitz broke free for a 37-yard touchdown run to push its lead to 20-12 with 2:15 left after the extra point was blocked.

Wabasso had one final drive to try and tie the game, but couldn’t get past midfield and turned it over on downs.

Wabasso coach Joe Kemp said he felt they made too many little mistakes throughout the game and couldn’t get into a groove offensively.

“As a group, I thought we didn’t play our best game; we made a lot of little mistakes on both sides of the ball, we played well defensively, but offensively we just couldn’t get in a rhythm and a lot of credit goes to MCC, they’re a well-coached team and a very good football team,” Kemp said. “There’s really nothing for us to hang our heads about, we just know that we have to get better ourselves.”

Wabasso had 188 yards of total offense, including 104 yards on the ground. Marotzke led the way in rushing with 71 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns while Benz completed eight of his 16 pass attempts for 84 yards. Carlson led in receiving with 65 yards on five catches.

Defensively, Marotzke led Wabasso with eight total tackles while Benz added 6.5 total tackles.

MCC had 276 yards of total offense, including 235 rushing yards. Schmitz (18 carries) and Johnson (22 carries) each had 102 yards on the ground while Schmitz completed seven of his 12 passes for 41 yards. Dawson Tutt led in receiving with 14 yards on two catches.

Defensively, Abe Paulzine led MCC with 5.5 total tackles while Rylan Behnke added four total tackles.

Up next

MCC (3-0) will face Adrian next Friday at 7 p.m. while Wabasso (2-1) will face Sleepy Eye next Friday at 7 p.m.

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