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Marquette starts fast in 37-14 win at Gladstone

Marquette’s Brady Wright streaks away from the Gladstone defense as the Braves’ Caden Alworden, left, gives chase on Friday at Gladstone. (Escanaba Daily Press photo by Justin St. Ours)

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone football team stumbled out of the gate against the Marquette Redmen here Friday and couldn’t find the momentum to overcome it as the Braves fell 37-14 in a Great Northern Conference contest.

The Braves trailed 17-0 at the half, but earned their first touchdown on the back of two fumbles shortly into the third quarter.

The Braves’ Caden Alworden recovered a Marquette fumble 48 seconds into the quarter to put them at the Redmen 15-yard line. Just a few plays later, a Braves’ rush looking to make it into the end zone did just that, except without a runner as a hard hit popped the ball forward into the end zone. Gladstone’s Connor McKenzie then recovered it for a TD. An extra point trimmed the Braves’ deficit to 17-7.

“We made a defensive adjustment at halftime to close up the gaps a bit down low,” Braves’ coach Jeff Hansen said. “Defensively and offensively, I thought we made a stand in the second half.

“I’m really proud of my kids. They fought like crazy, and the seniors really led. We didn’t give up. We were down 17-0, and it would’ve been easy for the kids to give up. They really tried to make a game of it.”

The quarter devolved into a defensive standoff for the next five minutes until Marquette’s Brady Wright reeled in a 45-yard pass from Austin Ridl to reach the end zone, and after a successful extra point, the Redmen extended their lead to 24-7 with 6:24 remaining in the third.

Despite a recovered fumble by Gladstone’s Peter Noblet as the third ticked down, no more points hit the board until a little less than a minute into the fourth quarter.

“Gladstone adjusted to our inside run in the second half,” Redmen coach Eric Mason said. “They came out and stopped us. We need to understand those things, and there were some assignments we missed, but overall, we did real well.”

Marquette’s Drew Wyble then tacked on a successful 30-yard field goal. Wyble knocked another through the uprights from 24 yards away with 6:30 remaining in the game to extend the lead to 30-7.

Both the Braves (3-5, 0-4 GNC) and the Redmen (4-4, 3-0 GNC) added one more score before the end. With 3:50 left, Gladstone’s Cam Kelly rushed three yards for a TD, and Wyble pulled in a 51-yard catch with a little over 30 seconds remaining.

“We played well in certain aspects of the game,” Mason said. “This is a group whose effort we like. I’m just happy for them. We come out here, and it’s all about them — about the kids and about the players. When they’re successful, I’m happy. When they’re happy, I’m happy.”

Marquette scored 17 points in the first half on a 1-yard rush from Wright, a field goal from Wyble and a 30-yard catch by Kameron Karp.

“It’s hard to see your playoff window close, but I’m really proud of how they responded to adversity,” Hansen said. “Next week, we’re just going to play for the most important thing: each other. I love my squad and the seniors for how hard they fought and led the rest of the team.”

Gladstone’s Drake Forrest went 7-for-13 for 88 yards. Kelly notched 60 yards on seven carries and one TD, and Cole Hansen finished with 30 yards on 15 carries and 34 yards on one catch.

Wright led the Redmen offense with 63 yards on 18 carries, 53 yards on two catches and two TDs. Karp collected 132 yards on five catches with one TD, and Wyble finished with 81 yards on two catches, one TD and three field goals. Ridl went 14-for-22 for 270 yards, two TDs and one interception.

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