McShane shatters single game rushing record as Bulldogs defeat Eagles

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MFL MarMac running back Cullen McShane evaded the Clayton Ridge defense throughout Friday night, rushing for a school record 355 yards on 15 carries. He totaled 211 of those on just three plays of 75, 63 and 73 yards—all for touchdowns. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Max Havlicek (7) netted 7.5 tackles in MFL MarMac’s 34-14 victory over Clayton Ridge.

Bulldog offensive lineman Tyler Wille blocks for his teammates against the Eagles.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

The MFL MarMac football team improved to 3-1 on Sept. 18, with a 34-14 victory at winless Clayton Ridge. 

“3-1, you’ve got to be happy about that,” said head coach Dan Anderson, but he admitted the game was rough at times. “We have a lot of cleaning up to do, especially up front.”

The first quarter was sloppy for both teams, with a combined three fumbles. The Eagles tried to get on the board first with a field goal with 9:53 left in the half, but the kick was blocked. Less than a minute later, Bulldog running back Cullen McShane broke through, taking the ball 75 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was good, putting MFL MarMac up 7-0.

At the 4:52 mark, McShane struck again, this time streaking down the sideline from 63 yards out. The extra point made it 14-0. 

With just over two minutes to go before halftime, the Bulldogs went to McShane again. He scored for a third time, on a 73-yard run. 

“Those three plays were our 38 sweep, our bread and butter last year,” said Anderson, and Clayton Ridge’s blitzing left a gap McShane was able to take advantage of. “Way out there was a big gap, so we were able to kick him out. As long as our quick guard gets a block on somebody, Cullen is to the races. If he can make one guy miss, break one tackle, he can go. He’s a pretty talented running back—fast, strong, can break a couple tackles, good vision—and he made them pay.”

After McShane’s 73-yard touchdown, the Eagles scored a touchdown of their own, as Caleb Helle returned the kickoff 85 yards to the end zone. The extra point cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 21-7.

“Special teams, you can’t have that. It put them right back in the ballgame and gave them some life before halftime,” Anderson said.

That momentum carried over into the third quarter, when, at the 5:31 mark, Clayton Ridge scored again, trimming the MFL MarMac advantage to just 21-14.

The Bulldogs didn’t get on the board again until there was 8:47 left in the game. As the Eagles were driving, Wyatt Powell scooped up a loose ball and returned it 27 yards to the end zone. After an unsuccessful extra point, MFL MarMac led 27-14. 

With 1:49 to go, a touchdown reception from quarterback Max Havlicek to Karter Decker capped off a 91-yard drive. An extra point sealed the game at 34-14, in favor of the Bulldogs. 

Anderson said MFL MarMac’s offensive struggles, particularly in the second half, were attributed to missed blocks and poor communication up front. 

“We’ll do tons and tons of individual time this week with our offensive line. We’ll work double blitzes, so we’ll know what to do if they try to do something like that again,” he explained. “That’s the same stuff Maq Valley was doing against us too, and we hadn’t seen it in a couple weeks. These guys probably saw it and said let’s try that too, and it was causing us problems.”

Clayton Ridge is also just a difficult place to play, Anderson added.

“I don’t think our kids were over-confident coming down here, but I told our guys, ‘They’re going to be jacked up to play us. It’s a rivalry game no matter what their record. This is a place we’ve had trouble. They’re going to fight you guys to the very end.’ And they did. They’ve got some good football players. They’re physical and had a good game plan.” 

MFL MarMac’s quarterback, Havlicek, threw the ball just seven times in the game, completing three passes for 33 yards and a touchdown. It was the Bulldog rushing attack that ruled. McShane racked up 355 yards on 15 carries, shattering the single game school record of 274 from the 1980s. Fullback Gabe McGeough added 70 yards on 12 attempts.

Defensively, Anderson said he was proud of the team’s effort. 

“We were not really concerned about [Clayton Ridge] throwing the ball, although they threw well,” he said. “We went to man coverage because we thought our DBs were better than their receivers. We wanted to get pressure, and give credit to their line, they gave time to throw a few balls. Our DBs were playing off a little bit too much. It’s all stuff that’s correctable.”

Decker led the team in tackles, with 9.5. In addition to a fumble recovery, Powell had 7.5 tackles and a couple sacks. Havlicek also tallied 7.5 tackles, while McShane had 8.5, to go with a sack. Tristen Koehn recovered a fumble and Kaden Stocker snagged an interception late in the game.

The Bulldogs, who are now 1-1 in district play, will fight for another victory this Friday, Sept. 25, against Starmont. It’s homecoming week at MFL MarMac, and the game will start at 7 p.m. in Monona.

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