Bulldogs dim Stars 40-14, picking up homecoming victory

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Austin Schlee (33) had a team-high 7.5 tackles in MFL MarMac’s dominant defensive performance against Starmont Sept. 25. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

Karter Decker (8) scored four times against the Stars: two receiving touchdowns, one on the ground and another on a kickoff return.

Chauncy Drahn (75) wraps up a Starmont runner during the Bulldogs’ 40-14 victory.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

It was a happy ending to MFL MarMac’s homecoming week, as the Bulldog football team rolled to a 40-14 victory over Starmont on Friday night.

“The kids came out ready to play this week,” said head coach Dan Anderson. “It was a dominating performance by our defense, and offense and special teams played pretty well too.”

MFL MarMac scored first in the game when, with seven minutes to go in the opening quarter, Karter Decker picked up a short touchdown after a muffed Stars punt gave the Bulldogs good field position. The extra point made it 7-0.

A minute later, following a Max Havlicek interception, Decker was back in the end zone. MFL MarMac was up 13-0 after the extra point failed.

The rest of the half was quiet until, with a minute and a half to go in the second quarter, MFL MarMac running back Cullen McShane broke into the end zone, giving the team a 19-0 advantage. 

Starmont was driving on the following possession when Kaden Stocker snagged a pick that preserved the shutout heading into halftime.

“The defense played lights out all game long. The defense had three picks in the first half—[Starmont] didn’t complete a pass except to our guys,” Anderson said. “Coach [Kyle] Kirkestue and the other coaches had a great game plan to stop these guys.”

Things continued to click for the Bulldogs in the second half. On the opening third quarter drive, Decker returned the kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown, increasing the lead to 25-0.

Getting that early lead was important, said Anderson. 

“You let a team like this play with you, then they believe they’re going to be able to stick with you the whole game. We needed to get up by a couple scores in the first half and take some of the wind out of their sails, and we did,” he stated. “The back breaker was that kick return for a touchdown to start the second half.”

The Bulldogs piled on at the 5:49 mark in the third quarter, with another Decker touchdown. McShane picked up the two-point conversion, making it 33-0.

The total increased to 40-0 early in the fourth quarter, after a touchdown by fullback Gabe McGeough and successful extra point.

Starmont finally got on the board with 4:34 left in the game, then added another touchdown with under three minutes to go. Both scores came with the Bulldog starters off the field.

“Two minutes into the fourth quarter, we had all the young guys out there,” Anderson said. “The young guys got some good experience.”

MFL MarMac quarterback Max Havlicek completed five of eight passes Friday night, for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Decker was his top receiver, grabbing two touchdown catches for a total of 47 yards. He also ran for 46 yards and a touchdown on three carries. 

Cayden Ball had one catch for 37 yards, while McShane had a 13-yard reception and accumulated 68 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts. McGeough carried the ball nine times, racking up 48 yards and a touchdown.

This week, said Anderson, the offense “talked better up front. Those linemen made adjustments.”

Starmont had some good linebackers, and the Bulldogs knew to expect physicality, he added, “but we hit them in a lot of different ways and threw the ball better this week. [Havlicek] had more time to throw the ball this week and he was connecting. We made some big plays again. We’ve had a lot of those.”

On the defensive side, MFL MarMac was anchored by sophomore Austin Schlee, who had 7.5 tackles, while McShane tallied 7 and had an interception. McGeough secured 6 tackles, Decker 5 and Gavin Meana 3.5. Stocker, Ball and Chauncy Drahn each had 3. 

The victory pushed the Bulldogs’ overall record to 4-1 and district standing to 2-1. They’ll host undefeated South Winneshiek on Friday, Oct. 2. The game has been circled on the calendar for several reasons.

“We’re excited. It’s a huge rivalry with South Winn,” said Anderson. “And if we win that, we win the district title.”

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