Hortonville rallies, slips past Marshfield football
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — A depleted Marshfield defense did all it could to keep the Tigers in the game, but in the end, Hortonville did just enough to send the Tigers to another heartbreaking home loss.
Max Flunker scored on a 23-yard touchdown run with 9:12 to go in the fourth quarter to push the Polar Bears ahead and after a three-and-out by Marshfield, Hortonville ran off the final 7:41 of the game to edge the Tigers 14-10 in a Valley Football Association South Division game on Friday night at Beell Stadium.
Hortonville clinched a WIAA playoff spot with the win and improves to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the VFA South. Marshfield is now 3-3 and 2-3 in the conference, leaving the Tigers needing to win two of their final three games to qualify for the postseason.
“The defense, you have to love what they did tonight,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “We lost five starters from last week and they got better. Our coaching staff, they did a great job this week.
“We had a good first half, we felt pretty confident in things, and then only ran 17 plays in the second half. We didn’t move the ball. A lot of good things again, but we just need some things to go our way and they just didn’t.”
Marshfield led 10-0 after back-to-back scoring drives at the end of the first and beginning of the second quarters.
A 13-play, 72-yard drive to open the game ended with Marshfield handing the ball over on downs at the Hortonville 8.
Marshfield forced a punt that was returned by Braden Bohman 28 yards to the Polar Bears’ 22 and four plays later Zach McManus booted a 35-yard field goal to start the scoring.
After a three-and-out, Nick Hoheisel had a 49-yard run to put the Tigers in the red zone. Following a holding penalty, Hoheisel ran 23 yards for a touchdown to give Marshfield a 10-0 lead just 24 seconds into the second quarter.
That would be it, however, for the Tigers, who were stymied the rest of the way. Marshfield gained just 113 yards the rest of the game, including only 34 in the second half.
“They were quicker than us,” Goettl said of the Hortonville defense. “They were shooting gaps and got in. It was a different defense (than) we played against the last four weeks, but we prepared for that and had a sound game plan. They shut us down, hats off to them.”
Hortonville cut the difference to 10-7 after Braden Stoeger hit Kyle Witthuhn for a 32-yard scoring pass with 4:08 to go in the first half.
The Tigers held on to the slim lead until early in the fourth. Hortonville took over on its own 32 with 22 seconds to go in the third quarter and drove 68 yards in seven plays. Flunker ran the final three times for 34 yards, capping the drive with a 23-yard run down the right sideline to put the Polar Bears on top.
Marshfield could not get a first down on its next possession and punted to the Polar Bears, who took over with 7:41 left in the game at its own 34.
Hortonville converted four first downs, two coming on fourth down. The final first down came on a pass interference call in the end zone following an incomplete pass on fourth down with just over 1 minute to go.
Hoheisel, who had more than 1,000 yards rushing in the Tigers’ first five games, had 102 yards on the ground in the first half, but was held to just 19 on seven carries in the second half.
“We put ourselves in a tough spot,” Goettl said. “We have to win two out of three against three of the best teams in the conference. Hortonville is second in the conference and we played with them, so that has to give us some confidence that we can play with people.”
Marshfield plays at Stevens Point next Friday, Oct. 3, at Goerke Field on the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point campus. The game will start at 7 p.m. 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.)
Polar Bears 14, Tigers 10
Hortonville 0 7 0 7 – 14
Marshfield 3 7 0 0 – 10
M – Zach McManus 35 field goal, 1:33.
M – Nick Hoheisel 23 run (McManus kick), 11:36.
H – Kyle Witthuhn 32 pass from Braden Stoeger (Trevor Coenen kick), 4:08.
H – Max Flunker 23 run (Coenen kick), 9:12.
First downs: Hortonville 16; Marshfield 11.
Rushing (att-yards): Hortonville 38-155; Marshfield 23-131.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Hortonville 14-23-113-1; Marshfield 15-22-130-1.
Punting (no.-avg.): Hortonville 5-36.8; Marshfield 4-37.3.
Penalties (total-yards): Hortonville 3-20; Marshfield 6-55.
Fumbles (total-lost): Hortonville 0-0; Marshfield 1-0.
Rushing: H, Max Flunker 23-108, Brad Conger 13-51, Braden Stoeger 2-minus 4. M, Nick Hoheisel 21-121, Tyson Slade 2-10.
Passing: H, Stoeger 14-23-113-1. M, Slade 15-22-130-1.
Receiving: H, Brock Young 4-46, Joe Cliver 3-34, Kyle Witthuhn 2-32, Mitch Mocaldo 2-17, Flunker 1-2, Adam Zeratsky 1-minus 3, Conger 1-minus 7. M, Jon Hardinger 7-74, Isaac Huettl 3-19, Hoheisel 2-10, Braden Bohman 1-15, Zach McManus 1-6, Zach Needham 1-6.
Interceptions (defense): H, Brandon Bauman. M, Neil Ott.
Punting: H, Cliver 5-36.8. M, McManus 4-37.3.
Records: Hortonville 5-1, 4-1 Valley Football Association South Division; Marshfield 3-3, 2-3 VFA South.