Battle Creek Central exploded for 20 fourth-quarter points on Friday at C.W. Post Field, but visiting Marshall utilized a balanced offense that built a comfortable lead and came away with a 37-20 victory in SMAC East Division action.
Marshall (2-6, 2-4 SMAC East) had a pair of 100-yard rushers in seniors Jerome Washington and Bobby Owens, while senior quarterback Danny Welke threw 9-of-11 for 115 yards and two touchdowns.
“We have had a pretty rough patch. The past couple weeks have been pretty rough for everybody for reasons I’m not going to go into. We’ve had a little bit of a struggle,” said Marshall head coach Jim Hendershot. “Just trying to have good practices. Well this week every practice got better. At pregame… we knew the guys were ready to play, and I think we showed it and we’re really pleased.”
The loss drops the Bearcats to 1-7 overall and 0-6 in league play.
“We were disappointed with the way we came out, not just the coaches but the kids too,” said BCC head coach Lorin Granger. “They knew they came out flat. At halftime, you could see it in their faces. Had we come out at the beginning of the game the way we did in the fourth quarter, it might have been a different story, but again, that’s just one of those things we have to learn from, and unfortunately we came out on the wrong end tonight.”
Marshall took control of the game early, as Welke hooked up with junior tight end Travis Mumaw for a 14-yard touchdown pass on an opening drive that spanned seven plays and 53 yards.
The Redhawks punched in another score with just under five minutes left in the first quarter when junior fullback Tyler Horn found paydirt on a 1-yard run.
Taking the ball over on their own 32-yard line with 1:58 to play in the half, Welke hooked up with senior receiver Landry Reynolds four times on a six-play, 68-yard drive. Reynolds capped off the drive with a nice 6-yard touchdown grab on a fade route in the corner of the endzone to help make it 21-0 in favor of Marshall going into halftime. Reynolds finished with six catches for 83 yards on the night.
Marshall scored again on its first drive of the second half, as Owens broke a tackle at the line of scrimmage, spun free from another would-be-tackler and scampered 45-yards down the sideline for a score to help make it 28-0. Owens finished with 103 yards rushing on seven carries, while Washington ran for 106 yards on 15 carries.
With 11:02 remaining in the contest, Marshall senior kicker Sydney Reichenbaugh successfully booted a 35-yard field goal to make it 31-0. Reichenbaugh was hit low on a roughing the kicker penalty and went down immediately. Down on the field for several minutes, she was eventually removed on a stretcher and taken away by a LifeCare ambulance.
Reichenbaugh was 4-for-4 on extra points in the contest with a touchback and a tackle to go with her field goal.
“She’s had three tackles this year. She’s been a gamer. It was one of those freak things where she was defenseless,” Hendershot said. “She saw it coming but she still made the kick, which I think is an incredible testament to her, because she’s a tough kid, a tough girl. I can’t say enough good words about her.”
Battle Creek Central got on the board with 6:46 left to play when senior running back Tarik Bell broke free for a 27-yard touchdown run. Bell converted on the two-point attempt to make it 31-8.
Bell recovered the ensuing onside kick for BCC, and the Bearcats took advantage as senior wideout Joe Bowser ran 33 yards to the house to make it 31-14. Bowser led the team in rushing with two carries for 49 yards.
The Bearcats continued their comeback attempt when senior wideout Javante’ Dunbar hauled in an 18-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Julieon Cooper to make it 31-20. Dunbar finished the game with three catches for 89 yards.
Marshall capped off the scoring on the night when Owens had a 6-yard touchdown run in the final minute of play.