Sparked by a couple of third quarter touchdown runs by Tony Wimberly, the Marshall football team ran away with a win over visiting Battle Creek Central on Friday night.
Wimberly’s two third quarter scores helped Marshall pull away for a convincing 46-18 victory over the Bearcats.
The Redhawks held a 13-6 advantage at halftime before outscoring the Bearcats 33-12 in the second half to earn their fourth straight victory over BCC.
“The kids did a really good job of keeping their heads at halftime,” said Marshall head coach Jim Hendershot. “(Assistant) Coach (Bill) Dryer made some defensive adjustments and we made some changes in the blocking schemes… The kids responded. Tony did a really nice job. The kids blocked for him up front, and we just came out and started running the ball and moving the ball.”
The win improved Marshall’s overall record to 2-2, while Battle Creek Central falls to 0-4.
“We came out a little flat,” said BCC head coach Lorin Granger. “They scored twice in the first quarter, and I felt we had momentum going into the half. We owned the second quarter… Came out in the second half, Marshall made some adjustments that we weren’t able to counter.”
Marshall scored on its first offensive possession on a 10-play, 51-yard drive when quarterback Danny Welke’s ran in a 1-yard touchdown.
Marshall marched 66 yards in 11 plays on its next possession, with Wimberly finding the endzone on a 1-yard run to put his team up 13-0.
BCC junior Joe Bowser nearly cut the deficit in half when he zig-zagged down the field for an impressive 85-yard kick return for a score. But the touchdown was called back due to an illegal block in the back.
However, Bowser couldn’t be kept out of the endzone in the first half. With the ball on the Marshall 43-yard line and only seven seconds remaining until halftime, Bearcat junior quarterback Tre’Vahn Hale threw a deep pass down the sideline to Bowser, who caught the ball, sidestepped his defender, and ran to paydirt to cut Marshall’s lead to 13-6.
The third quarter belonged to Marshall’s Wimberly. The senior running back scored on a 19-yard run behind some nice downfield blocking. He later took a handoff, cut against the grain of the defense, split two defenders and raced down the sideline for a brilliant 47-yard touchdown run to put the Redhawks up 28-6.
Wimberly finished the contest with 20 carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Marshall junior wide receiver Jesse Bouwens took a reverse handoff and scampered 38 yards for a score to build the Redhawks’ lead to 34-6.
Marshall senior Chase Bennett intercepted a pass and returned it to the BCC 19-yard line. That set up junior running back Bobby Owens two plays later, who carried the ball down to the half yard line but extended it over the goal line for a 9-yard score to make it 40-6.
BCC’s Bowser would respond by taking the ensuing kickoff 78 yards to the house to make the score 40-12.
The Bearcats refused to go down without a fight. In the final minutes of the fourth quarter, newly-brought up sophomore Khylen Watson recovered a fumble and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown to make it 40-18.
“A lot of positive happens tonight,” Granger said. “A loss is a loss, but we saw a lot of good things happen. We moved the ball on offense for the first time all year. The special teams got a score. Defense got a score. It’s not just about scoring and winning. There’s a lot of positive things happening with this team, and I’m really proud of them despite the loss.”
The Redhawks punched one in shortly after Watson’s score, when Owens returned a kickoff 45 yards, setting up his own 40-yard touchdown run.
Marshall’s defense was led by senior Robbie Ranville, who finished with two sacks and a fumble recovery. Bennett had a interception, as did Bouwens and junior Brice Banfield.
“I told them to enjoy this win for 24 hours, but we need to get better every day,” Hendershot said. “And that’s kind of the name of the game for us.”