Bulldogs beat South Winn, creating three-way tie atop district standings

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Junior fullback Gabe McGeough rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns in MFL MarMac’s 36-22 victory over South Winn on Oct. 2. Here, he gets a block from teammate Chauncy Drahn. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

The Warriors’ star quarterback, Jacob Herold, was sacked twice by the Bulldogs, including this one by freshman Wyatt Powell.

The MFL MarMac defense kept South Winn’s prolific triple option offense largely under wraps. Head coach Dan Anderson attributed a lot of that success to nose guard Josh Reichard.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

The MFL MarMac football team defeated rival South Winneshiek 36-22 on Oct. 2. The victory, paired with a win over Postville in the final regular season game this coming Friday, would give the Bulldogs a share of the Class A District 4 title with the Warriors and Wapsie Valley.

“It’s a huge victory,” said head coach Dan Anderson. “We went against a really good football team that was undefeated and ranked top four. I thought we dominated for a lot of that football game.”

The Bulldogs got on the board first, four minutes into the game, with a touchdown by fullback Gabe McGeough. The extra point was unsuccessful, leaving the score 6-0.

Scoring first was important, noted Anderson.

“That was a huge thing, not just the scoreboard, but in our heads, in their heads,” he said. “Last year, we put a pretty good thumping on them twice, and I told our guys before the game, ‘Physically, we have to beat them. But there has to be a little doubt in their head—if we can get a drive down field right away and punch one in.’”

With 29 seconds left in the first quarter, South Winn took a 7-6 lead. MFL MarMac responded quickly, however. On the next possession, Karter Decker ran the ball 58 yards for a touchdown. The extra point was no good, giving the Bulldogs a 12-7 advantage.

The Warriors were driving their next possession when Austin Schlee recovered a red zone fumble. It was the first of several key defensive stops for MFL MarMac.

The Bulldogs then pushed their lead to 15-7 with 7:04 left in the second quarter, on a Max Havlicek field goal. At the 2:23 mark, McGeough scored his second touchdown of the night, from 26 yards out, in a third and 17 situation. A Cullen McShane two-point conversion put the Bulldogs up 23-7 going into halftime.

South Winn cut the lead to 23-15 a few minutes into the second half, but MFL MarMac took some of those points back later in the third quarter, when a McShane touchdown made it 29-15.

The Bulldogs continued to add on with 3:51 left in the game, as McGeough capped off an over-eight-minute-long-drive with his third TD. The extra point upped the total to 36-15.

The Warriors trimmed that margin to 36-22 with a quick drive right after. South Winn then intercepted MFL MarMac quarterback Max Havlicek on the following possession, but turned the ball over on downs, giving the Bulldogs the ball back with 1:25 to go—a move that sealed the victory.

Although South Winn punted only once in the game, the MFL MarMac defense kept the Warriors’ prolific triple option offense largely under wraps. The assistant coaches had a good game plan, which the players bought into, said Anderson.

“It’s tough to defend a triple option team, and we made it pretty simple for our guys, and they were attacking that dive with our D ends, coming down inside and crashing hard. Everybody had an assignment and they ran it well,” he explained. “[South Winn] had a couple plays where they pitched outside. That’s the one play they had a little success with. But we stopped the option, which they hang their hat on.”

“Those young guys out there, you never knew they were going against juniors and seniors,” Anderson added. “They were just battling, tough as nails.”

McShane led the Bulldog defense with 7.5 tackles and a sack. Cayden Ball picked up 6 tackles and McGeough and Tristen Koehn each had 4.5. Havlicek also had 4.5 tackles and snagged an interception, while Schlee tallied 4 tackles and a fumble recovery and Wyatt Powell earned 3.5 tackles and a sack.

“Josh Reichard had a heck of a game playing at nose guard. We moved him in block the snot out of that [Warrior] center who’s snapping the football, and he did that all night. Then we brought Tyler Wille in there and he did it too. We just rotated our big, physical guys under center, knocking them back,” Anderson said. “Then we put our quicker guys at D end. We had Tristen Koehn and Chauncy Drahn doing that.”

The Bulldogs were able to take South Winn away from their identity, Anderson remarked.

“Any time South Winn’s got the ball in their hands, they could score. That’s what they’re known for, always putting up lots of points,” he stated. “But I think we’ve made an identity for ourselves the last couple years. When people think of Bulldogs, they think of tough, physical football.”

That showed not only on defense, but offense as well.

MFL MarMac combined for 359 rushing yards, including 138 yards and a touchdown from McShane and 144 yards and three touchdowns from McGeough. Decker ran the ball three times for 60 yards and a touchdown.

Through the air, Havlicek completed five of seven attempts for 52 yards. Ball caught two of those passes for 23 yards.

“Offensively, we were just able to pound it all night,” said Anderson. “Who would’ve thought we would have two backs over 100 yards against these guys? They haven’t given up more than 14 points in a ballgame. I was really proud.”

He’s proud of the team’s efforts all season, which have the Bulldogs 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the district, and poised for a second-straight district title. 

“Going into the season, if you would’ve said we’re going to get a share of the district title, I might have doubted it a little bit. But you should never doubt the Bulldogs. Our guys go into every game with the right mind set, with the right game plan, and if we do what we’re supposed to do, we’re always going to have a good chance to win the football game,” he said. “Now, we can’t go over to Postville and lay an egg. If we play our style of football, we should have a convincing victory. We worked this hard for a district championship—I think there’s a lot of motivation for our guys.”

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