Tigers Down Salisbury to Face Milan

The Marceline Tigers got some redemption Wednesday night at Salisbury, as they downed their Lewis and Clark Conference rivals in the District Semifinals. This win was the first in at least four years for Marceline over the Panthers.
The game started off well for the Tigers, as Salisbury was pinned in their own territory off of the opening kickoff. Tackles for losses by Cade Ewigman, Anthony Steffes, and Trey King would help force a punt to end the Panthers opening drive.
Runs by Blake Belzer and Blake Linebaugh would earn a first down for Marceline. These runs would bring in the safeties, and allow Linebaugh to connect with Jared Best for a 63-yard completion. Runs by Belzer and Linebaugh would get the Marceline offense to the Salisbury one yard line. A penalty on the Tigers backed them up, and helped force a Fourth and Goal situation. It would be on this play that Linebaugh would connect with Dakota Lewis for a four-yard touchdown pass. Isaac Smith added the point-after. With 3:15 left in the first quarter, Marceline led Salisbury 7-0.
The Panthers would drive the field on their next possession, earning a couple of first downs. But the Black Rage defense would stiffen up, with a tackle for a loss coming from Dylon Ewigman. A flag against the Panthers would take a touchdown off the board. Facing Fourth Down, Salisbury would go for it deep in Tigers territory, but a key stop by Lewis would end the drive at the Marceline nine yard line.
Marceline would earn one first down on their next drive, thanks to two runs from Linebaugh. However, the team would be forced to punt the ball away four plays later.
Salisbury would drive on their possession, and stall out a lengthy drive at the Marceline 10 yard line. Here, they would kick a field goal to come away with some points on the possession. With 5:11 left in the second quarter, Marceline still held a 7-3 lead.
Marceline would face a key third down on the ensuing drive, and Linebaugh would connect with Lewis once again for a 27-yard pass to take the Tigers deep into Salisbury territory. They would connect again one play later for a 26-yard touchdown pass.
"It means a lot to get this win," said Lewis after the game. "I am so beyond proud of the way we stepped up. We have been playing two quarters for weeks now, and to step up and play four quarters as a team tonight was great. We hope to keep playing for a long time."
With 3:45 left in the second quarter, Marceline led 14-3. Salisbury would have one more drive, but tackles for a loss by Lewis, passes broken up by Trevor Hamilton, and an interception by Dan Corbin would combine to end the drive.
Marceline led 14-3 at the halftime break.
The Tigers took the second half's kickoff, and went three-and-out. This was thanks, in-part, to a penalty on third down. However, Hamilton picked off a second down pass, returning it to his own 30 yard line.
A Tiger interception would end a promising drive on the next possession, and the momentum took a turn in Salisbury's favor. The Panthers would drive 48 yards on eight plays, scoring on a six-yard touchdown run. The conversion, though, saw the pass fall errantly out of bounds. With 3:58 remaining in the third quarter, Marceline led Salisbury 14-9.
The teams exchanged possessions for the remainder of the third quarter. Hamilton had a tackle for a loss for the Black Rage defense.
In a drive that had its first play as the final one of the third quarter, Marceline would drive for a score. A pass to Belzer on Third and 15 from Linebaugh would take the ball 20 yards and reset the down marker for the Tigers. Linebaugh would help himself, and take advantage of some great blocking to score on a 25-yard touchdown run. Smith added the point-after. With 10:59 remaining in the game, Marceline led Salisbury 21-9.
The teams would exchange possessions for most of the rest of this game. Salisbury would burn a lot of clock on their second-to-last drive. But the Black Rage defense tightened up again, stopping the Panthers short on a Fourth and Three.
Runs from Linebaugh and Belzer moved the chains well for the Marceline offense on their final possession. The clincher came with 1:16 left in the game, when Belzer broke off a 49-yard run for the game's final score. Smith added the point-after. Marceline won this game by a final score of 28-9 to extend their season.
"I couldn't be more proud of these guys," said Head Coach Paul Thomas. "They've persevered all season long. Our offensive and defensive lines played great. This is a great thing for our team and community."
Looking at the LCL's stats, the Tigers trailed in many categories. Marceline had fewer first downs (12-20), and less total yards of offense (298-306). But the Tigers had the lead in the lone area it really mattered...the score.
Marceline will face top-seeded Milan Monday night at 7 p.m. on the road. The Wildcats got to the District Title game with a 51-0 drubbing of Paris. These two ground-and-pound teams will now do battle for the District Championship.