Injuries sometimes take a bigger toll than just numbers on the depth chart.
A key personnel mistake in the fourth quarter stole Marshfield’s momentum, allowing Republic to hold on for a 28-14 victory at a remodeled R.A. Barr Stadium on Thursday night.
The Blue Jays — decimated by injuries — scored with 7:39 to play to cut Republic’s lead to 21-14 .
Marshfield, however, had only 10 players out on the kickoff and Republic’s Beau Allen scampered 57 yards deep into Blue Jays’ territory to set up the final Tigers score.
“We had two kids down with injury and one of them forgot to tell our special teams guy he was back in and we played it with 10 guys,” Marshfield coach Nick Codutti said. “And where the hole was, was where our guy was supposed to be.
“These are the mistakes of a young football team and a young coach and we need to shore those up.”
The moment wasn’t lost on Republic coach Kurt Thompson, whose team had really not been threatened until that moment.
“It was one of those things we work on a lot,” Thompson said. “We got … two or three blocks and Nick Gideon got a huge block to give (Allen) an open field and he just ran out of gas.
The Tigers, riding the strong back of tailback Kerik Crouse, dominated the first half but still held just a 14-7 lead at the break.
It appeared as if Republic might run away with it in the third quarter. A quick possession by the Jays, followed by a long drive by the Tigers — and 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-eight from James Desjardins to Garrett Metscher — seemed to suck some energy out of the stadium.
But Armstrong, one of the area’s more talented quarterbacks, would lead another comeback attempt. Without running backs Dillon Harms – who is on the verge of claiming the school’s career rushing record – and Hunter Decker in street clothes and Thursday starter Cole Tucker out with a knee injury, the Blue Jays were forced to go almost exclusively with the passing game.
The 6-foot-3 junior – who completed 13 of 27 passes for 224 yards — marched Marshfield (0-2) down the field and cut the lead to 21-14 on Mitch Freeman’s 5-yard run.
Allen’s long return followed, setting up a 1-yard run by Metscher, which sealed it for Republic (2-0).
“We got down the field quick and got to put some much-needed points on the board,” Allen said. “I’m glad I got to help my team out on that play. It’s a pretty exciting start for us.”
For the second week in a row, Marshfield was gashed on the ground. One week after giving up 255 yards to Willard’s Tanner Moore, the Blue Jays allowed 152 yards on 29 carries to Crouse and 245 on the ground to the Tigers. Yet Marshfield continues to show some resiliency.
“These kids are close,” Codutti said. “I don’t think they see it and that’s our job as coaches to make them see it. We’ve hung with two big COC schools and if we can keep fighting and get healthy, we’ve got a chance to make a run.”