The Marceline Tigers football team traveled to Salisbury for a second round playoff football game Wednesday night. The Tigers, having played a close game earlier in the season against their Lewis and Clark Conference rivals, sought revenge in this post-season game.
Marceline won the opening toss, and deferred to the second half. Levi Kelly kicked off for the Black Rage football team, and the Panthers would go three-and-out on their opening drive. Kelly had a tackle for a loss on third down.
Blake Belzer broke off an 18-yard run on first down to bring the Marceline crowd to life at this away game. A pass interference call moved the pigskin into Panthers territory at the 36 yard line. Two plays later, though, the Tigers fumbled the ball away, with Salisbury recovering it at their own 45 yard line.
The Panthers went on a 55-yard, 10-play drive here for the game’s opening score. The touchdown came on a one-yard run after a 34-yard pass. The point-after was good.
Q1 6:07 Marceline 0 Salisbury 7
Dakota Lewis returned the ensuing kickoff to the Salisbury 30 yard line. But, two plays later, the Panthers picked off a pass and returned it to their own 25 yard line.
Salisbury would gain one first down on the next drive, but a pair of stops for a loss by Belzer would help force a Panthers punt. Blake Linebaugh returned the ball to his own 24 yard line.
Marceline went three-and-out on the drive, which would also bring the opening quarter to a close. Salisbury would start the drive at their own 33 yard line after the Linebaugh punt.
Salisbury would score a touchdown on their next drive, going 67 yards in six plays, and scoring on a 37-yard touchdown pass. The point-after would again be good.
Q2 9:55 Marceline 0 Salisbury 14
Linebaugh returned the kickoff to his own 31, and Lewis would take it from there to the house in one play. Lewis scampered 69-yards for the Tigers first score of the game. The extra point was no good.
Q2 9:38 Marceline 6 Salisbury 14
Salisbury would answer back, however, traveling 66 yards in 10 plays, and scoring on a 25-yard touchdown run. A forced fumble by Kelly and Tucker Dunham occurred on the play before the score in a defensive highlight for the Black Rage football team. The Panthers would successfully add the point-after.
Q2 5:17 Marceline 6 Salisbury 21
The Tigers showed fire on their next drive, with the passion of a Lewis and Clark Conference Champion. A short run by Linebaugh set up a 35-yard strike from Linebaugh to Lewis. A short run by Linebaugh again set up the pass, as he connected with Chase Hilsabeck on third down, and then hit paydirt with Belzer from 18-yards out for the score. The extra point again did not convert.
Page 2 of 3 - Q2 2:42 Marceline 12 Salisbury 21
A first down sack by Anthony Steffes would cost the Panthers 14 yards, and help keep Salisbury from managing much offense in their final drive before the halftime break. Marceline would take over with little time in the half, and would try two runs before the clock expired.
Halftime - Marceline 12 Salisbury 21
Marceline took the second half kickoff back to their own 38. Linebaugh found Belzer for a 28-yard strike to the Panthers 32 yard line on the first snap of the frame. A short run from Linebaugh set up a 30-yard touchdown pass to Belzer for the opening score of the second half, drawing Marceline within a field goal with the missed extra point.
Q3 10:36 Marceline 18 Salisbury 21
The Panthers burned 5:18 off of the clock on an extended drive that started at their 34. Salisbury would score on this 13-play drive on a two-yard run. This was after good defensive plays by Austin Moudy and Brett McGlothlin. The point-after was good.
Q3 4:54 Marceline 18 Salisbury 28
Lewis would take the kickoff back to his own 30 yard line. A pass to Hilsabeck and a run by Belzer would gain the Black Rage football team a fresh set of downs at the 41 yard line. A third down pass from Linebaugh to McGlothlin would gain 34 yards and another Marceline first down. But, the Tigers would turn the ball over on downs four plays later at the Panthers 20 yard line.
On the next drive, Salisbury would run the clock again, ending the third quarter, stretching into the fourth quarter, and score again. The Panthers would drive 80 yards in 11 plays, and would score on a 21-yard passing touchdown. The Black Rage defense had a stop for a loss by Kelly, and a good quarterback pressure from Lewis.
Q4 7:53 Marceline 18 Salisbury 35
On Marceline’s next-to-last drive, a short pass to Lewis set up a 16-yard pass to Belzer for a Marceline first down. A run from Linebaugh on third down and a fourth down pass to Lewis reset the down marker at the Panthers 41. An aerial strike to Hilsabeck on the next play netted 27-yards and a first down for the Tigers. On the next play, Marceline fumbled the ball away at the Salisbury 21.
The Panthers would score again, this time on a six play, 79-yard drive. The score came on a 52-yard touchdown run. The point-after was no good.
Q4 3:55 Marceline 18 Salisbury 41
Marceline returned the squib kickoff to their own 41. A big penalty against Salisbury on first down moved the pigskin to the Panthers 25. A third down run by Lewis netted 17 yards, but still wasn’t enough for the first down. The punt was returned to the Salisbury 31, and two plays later the game was over.
Page 3 of 3 - Final - Marceline 18 Salisbury 41
“I thought it was a very competitive game,” said Head Coach Paul Thomas. “We had to get out of character tonight and throw the football a little bit more than we wanted to. We got into a shootout with them, they are a good football team and deserved the win.”
As for the season, the Tigers end with a 7-4 record, co-champs of the Lewis and Clark Conference, and surprised a lot of nay-sayers in the football world. “I don’t think many people expected us to win seven football games,” said Coach Thomas. “Our seniors did a great job of leading us. We have a good core group of young guys coming back. We are excited for the future of Marceline Tigers football.”