The third Big 8 Conference meeting between Aurora and Marshfield was one to forget for the Blue Jays Friday night.
Marshfield was held scoreless until the fourth quarter and ended up on the wrong side of the 40-13 rout, a surprising result considering the program’s three losses had come by a combined nine points prior to Week 7.
The Hound Dawgs piled on 26 points before Marshfield, who came in averaging 34.5 points, got on the board with Daylon Kanengieter’s four-yard touchdown run on the first play of the final quarter
“I was very frustrated and upset with how we came out and how flat we were,” said Marshfield head coach Cody Bull, a feeling that seemed shared by the coaching staff on the sidelines as early as Aurora quarterback Aaron Fisher’s 78-yard touchdown run less than three minutes in.
Added Bull, “You play really good teams and dig yourself 26-point holes, it’s hard to get out of it. We were just short of good execution on enough stuff tonight, and it hurt us.”
A long, designed run for Fisher helped tee up Kohl Rohlman for a seven-yard TD on Aurora’s second scoring drive of the game. They got some help on their third from Marshfield when the ball was jarred out of Kanengieter’s grasp, and after a scramble for the ball by players from both teams, Cameron Savage returned it 59 yards to put Aurora up 20-0 with 1:44 still left in the first quarter.
The Hound Dawgs’ offensive, a hybrid flexbone with plenty of option and misdirection, had Marshfield’s coaches making adjustments that helped temporarily limit the deficit in the second quarter.
“There were quite a few adjustments going on,” Coach Bull said. “We did a good job early on the ends, kind of spilling that, and our linebackers weren’t quite getting over the top of it. Then they started cutting our ends and doing things to us, so we had to make another adjustment. They were doing a really good job of, every time we fixed something, they’d go back and readjust to it.”
“Defensively, it’s hard to replicate the speed that flexbone runs at [in practice]. I thought their quarterback did a really good job pitching the ball late, and it kind of gave us some fits.”
Aurora (5-2) scored its last touchdown of the half on an inside handoff to Rohlman, who went 66 yards to the house on the first play of the drive with 3:08 remaining.
Following that score, the Jays’ offense appeared to get in a rhythm for the first time all night as sophomore quarterback Bryant Bull strung together several completions, but a pass intended for Landon Wilson in the end zone was intercepted by Gavin Youngblood.
Other than that possession and gains by Kanengieter of 21 and 17 yards in the first quarter, there wasn’t much else to highlight from Marshfield’s offense until the first scoring drive.
“We stopped one of the best backs in the state in Kanengieter,” Aurora head coach Craig Weldy said. “We’ve seen spread every week since Week 2 and our kids have learned you have to give super effort to keep guys in control [within it].”
Able to stop the Aurora run following their first score, the Blue Jays seemed like they might be poised for a late rally. Taylor Cappel gained 44 yards on a drive that began with short field position, and Kanengieter crossed the goal line standing up on an 11-yard score that, after an extra point which went wide left, cut it to 26-13 with 9:41 remaining.
Marshfield’s defense held strong on early downs the next drive, but Aurora converted multiple third downs and William Krier scored on a five-yard run that made it 32-13 with 5:39 left.
The Jays (3-4) lost the ball on the ensuing return, Fisher called his own number for a seven-yard TD with a two-point run tacked on by Jackson to put the game further away with 3:41 to go.
Friday’s loss killed the chances that the Jays might again end the regular season on a five-game winning streak, as they have the past two seasons. Albeit limited, recent history seemed to side with Marshfield, who won last year on the road, 40-22, and 41-18 in 2018 to begin the series with their conference competitors.
“I think our guys played hard, we just didn’t play well,” Coach Bull said. “We did some good things at times, but it’s hard to pinpoint one thing when we have a season-low offensively. Bottom line, this whole thing [falls] on me. I didn’t have us prepared to play tonight and we’re going to go to work to get this fixed.”
“Our seniors don’t want this to be what people remember. They’re ready to fix this and get it headed back in the right direction. We’re in a situation with our district and conference where there’s no easy games left, but none we can’t win either.”
Marshfield makes the short trip to play Logan-Rogersville on Friday.