Tigers football falls to Neenah, just misses 3-0 start
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield football team played its best half of the season in the first half of Friday’s Valley Football Association South Division game against Neenah.
In the second half, however, the tables turned.
Marshfield committed three turnovers on its final four possessions and couldn’t get the ball back from the Rockets in the final 6 minutes on its way to its first loss of the season.
Jose Alba-Zielinski caught a 64-yard touchdown pass from Joe Jung with 8:25 to go in the fourth quarter for the go-ahead score as the Rockets pulled out a 27-24 win at Beell Stadium. Both teams are now 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the VFA South.
Marshfield led 21-14 at halftime and pushed the lead to 10 after a 33-yard field goal by Zach McManus on its opening drive of the third quarter.
A fumbled snap was recovered by Neenah’s Sam Ferron at the Tigers’ 19 and Austin Belot scored on the next play to cut Marshfield’s lead to 24-21 with 1:28 to go in the third quarter.
Marshfield punted on its next two possessions and following the second punt, Jung hit Alba-Zielinski on a short pass and the Neenah senior outran the Tigers’ defense for the long touchdown to put the Rockets ahead.
Marshfield had its next drive end on an interception and the Rockets were able to convert four first downs – two coming on fourth down – to run out the final 5:59 of the game.
“We were in a dog fight again, lose this one by three, and turnovers were an issue,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “We’ll keep coming together, we’ll keep playing as hard as we can, and keep battling back.”
Belot finished with 175 yards rushing on 25 carries and Jung had 211 yards passing and 69 on the ground to lead the Neenah attack.
Nick Hoheisel had his third-straight 100-yard rushing game, piling up 137 yards on 28 carries, and he also scored a touchdown for the Tigers. Quarterback Tyson Slade had 148 yards passing and had a dazzling 22-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first quarter.
Slade hit Jon Hardinger on a fade pattern in the right corner of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown just 1:21 into the game to put the Tigers on top.
Alba-Zielinski caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Jung to tie the game before Slade’s run put the Tigers back on top.
Slade scrambled out of the pocket, took off down the left sideline and turned across the field, scoring near the right sideline.
Hoheisel’s 6-yard touchdown run gave Marshfield a 21-7 lead with 5:18 left in the first half, but Neenah quickly scored when Alec Elkin had a 61-yard TD catch from Jung.
McManus’ field goal capped a nine-play drive to open the second half for the Tigers, but they wouldn’t score again as the turnovers mounted.
Goettl said the Tigers are going to find themselves in close games throughout the season, and the first three games are perfect examples.
“We know who we are,” Goettl said. “I keep saying ‘dog fight’ and I hope the kids understand now. The last couple of weeks they came out on our end. We’ll battle back and get going. We just have to get healthy again.”
Marshfield plays at Oshkosh West next Friday. The game starts at 8:15 p.m. at Titan Stadium and will be broadcast on WDLB-AM 1450 and wdlbwosq.com.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)
Rockets 27, Tigers 24
Neenah 7 7 7 6 – 27
Marshfield 14 7 3 0 – 24
M – Jon Hardinger 27 pass from Tyson Slade (Zach McManus kick), 10:39.
N – Jose Alba-Zielinski 45 pass from Joe Jung (Chris Keider kick), 8:10.
M – Slade 22 run (McManus kick), 0:34.
M – Nick Hoheisel 6 run (McManus kick), 5:18.
N – Alec Elkin 61 pass from Jung (Keider kick), 2:48.
M – McManus 33 field goal, 8:21.
N – Austin Belot 19 run (Keider kick), 1:28.
N – Alba-Zielinski 64 pass from Jung (kick blocked), 8:25.
First downs: Neenah 15; Marshfield 15.
Rushing (att-yards): Neenah 43-248; Marshfield 37-157.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Neenah 7-19-211-0; Marshfield 10-19-148-2.
Penalties (no.-yards): Neenah 10-87; Marshfield 7-85.
Punting (no.-avg.): Neenah 3-39.0; Marshfield 3-38.3.
Fumbles (total-lost): Neenah 0-0; Marshfield 2-1.
Rushing: N, Austin Belot 25-175, Joe Jung 16-69, Jose Alba-Zielinski 1-5, No. 36 (no name provided) 1-2. M, Nick Hoheisel 28-137, Tyson Slade 4-14, Braden Bohman 5-6.
Passing: N, Jung 7-19-211-0. M, Slade 10-19-148-2.
Receiving: N, Alba-Zielinski 3-119, Alec Elkin 2-63, Belot 2-29. M, Bohman 4-74, Jon Hardinger 4-50, Isaac Huettl 1-17, Hoheisel 1-7.
Punting: N, Alba-Zielinski 3-38.0. M, Zach McManus 3-37.3.
Fumble recovery (defense): N, Sam Ferron.
Interceptions (defense): N, Jung, Brandon Diedrich.
Records: Neenah 2-1, 1-1 Valley Football Association South; Marshfield 2-1, 1-1 VFA South.