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Sputtering offense: Marquette unable to find groove after prolific opener, loses to Soo 22-16

Marquette’s Desmond Mullen, center, intercepts a pass by Sault Ste. Marie's Jakob Davie in the fourth quarter of their high school football game on Friday as Redmen teammate Ty Lotterman is right behind him. The pass was intended for the Soo's Callen Campbell, left. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — Sometimes a football team’s offense can go both hot and cold.

That’s what happened to Marquette on Friday night.

One week after putting up 41 points last week in a win over Menominee, the Redmen sputtered against Sault Ste. Marie and were dealt a 22-16 loss.

Marquette didn’t pick up a first down until the third quarter and seemed just out of sync at times, surprising MSHS head coach Eric Mason.

“We weren’t ready to play,” he said. “I’ll take responsibility for that. We were out here and we were flat most of the game. And we never came out of it.

“We kept waiting for it to happen and unfortunately, it didn’t. It was just one of those games where we’ve got to find another gear and we didn’t.”

There wasn’t a whole lot of offense overall, but the game did come down to the closing seconds. After the Blue Devils converted on fourth down on a nice 29-yard catch by Bennette Swanson, Kris Pearce plowed his way into the end zone on the next play to give SSM the lead with 57 seconds left.

Marquette got one final possession and made it into SSM territory, but couldn’t convert on fourth down as the Blue Devils held on.

“They played harder than we did,” Mason said. “At the end of the day, they came out here and they wanted it more than we did and it showed at the end. There’s not much more you can do when the other team brings the effort and you don’t.”

Defense was the story of the first half with Marquette getting the only points of the first quarter with a safety.

Marquette found the end zone with 8:02 left in the first half, thanks to some help from a short field following a bad snap on a Soo punt. Four plays later, quarterback Austin Ridl found Kam Karp for an 8-yard touchdown and with the extra point, it was 9-0 Redmen at the half.

The Blue Devils found their groove after intermission. On their first possession, SSM used its power running game to march downfield and capped off the drive with a 21-yard TD run by Pearce. The conversion was good and Marquette’s lead was down to a razor-thin 9-8 advantage.

SSM then forced a Redmen punt and went back to work, slowly moving its way into Marquette territory before taking the lead on a 4-yard scoring run by John Robinson. Quarterback Jakob Davie got the two-point conversion and the Blue Devils held a 16-9 advantage.

Marquette didn’t go away, though. Ridl spread the ball around with passes to Owen Beauchamp and David Eberhard before again hooking up with Karp on a 5-yard fade route for a touchdown. The extra point was good and the game was tied 16-16 heading into the final quarter.

Each team had a good opportunity to take the lead early in the fourth, but Davie was intercepted by the Redmen defender Desmond Mullen, and later, Ridl was picked off deep in Blue Devils territory.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal. net.

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