2011-10-12 / Sports

Lange, Raiders fend off Eagles, 52-30

MHS clinches playoff berth; DHS still looking
BY DALE BALL Sports Editor

Three Marlette defenders, including Nate Strauel (bottom) and Curtis Morrison (right) put a halt to Deckerville running back Andrew Estrada during the battle of cross-county football rivals Friday night. 
Photo by DALE BALL Three Marlette defenders, including Nate Strauel (bottom) and Curtis Morrison (right) put a halt to Deckerville running back Andrew Estrada during the battle of cross-county football rivals Friday night. Photo by DALE BALL MARLETTE — Two distinctly different offenses that normally put up big numbers lived up to their reputations Friday night. But, it was Marlette’s big play capability that won out in the end.

The Red Raiders moved to 6-1 overall and cinched a spot in the MHSAA playoffs with a 52-30 triumph over the Deckerville Eagles. The loss left the Eagles at 5-2 on the season and still seeking a sixth win for a guaranteed place in the post-season.

The Eagles used their size and inside running attack out of the wing-T, and a couple of special team plays, to stay with the Raiders’ explosive spread offense for most of the night.

Marlette, though, after punting on its first two possessions, scored touchdowns on seven of its next eight to gradually pull away.

“Deckerville had just a huge size advantage,” commented Denny Lester, Raider head coach. “They did a nice job of grinding it out on the ground. We knew they were a good offensive team.”

As he has most of the season, senior QB Kolby Lange was a main difference for Marlette. He had a direct hand in six of the Raiders’ seven touchdowns, including two long runs of 50 and 88 yards in the fourth quarter that put the game away. After being contained as a runner by the Eagles early on, Lange managed to score on a nine yard run in the first quarter and followed later with TD passes of 18 yards to senior speedster Donnie Thomas and 40 and 45 yards to wide-open sophomore talent, Brad Schaub.

“Kolby did a really nice job of getting Brad and Donnie involved. They’ve kind of been in hiatus the last two weeks,” explained Lester. “He did a nice job of delivering the ball. And, our offensive line did a nice job of picking up the rush.”

The Eagles, whose only loss came in the opening week against unbeaten Mendon (ranked No. 2 in Division 8), moved the ball on the ground well early, but the scoring was set up by the special teams. Junior Dillon Lundgren put Deckerville ahead, 6-0, on a 47 yard punt return in the opening quarter. Then, after Lange’s nine yard TD run and pass play to Thomas, Deckerville recovered a fumbled punt on the Raiders 30. A few plays later, the Eagles tied the game at 14-14 on a three yard pass from QB Tyler Pattullo to tight end Justin Asher and a two-point conversion run from Lundgren with 3:13 left in the half.

With Lange in charge of the Raider offense, that was enough time to put another score on the board. The Raiders tallied 59 seconds later on the 40 yard catch-and-run by Schaub. The Lange-to- Schaub toss for the two-pointer made it, 22-14 at the break.

Veteran Eagle coach Bill Brown said his team came out and played well from the beginning.

“In the first half, we did what we had to do to stay in the game,” remarked Brown. He later added, “We knew Marlette was going to be tough. We knew they were faster and we knew we’d have to to keep drives going to keep to Marlette off the field.”

The Eagles, however, were stopped by the Raider defense on the first possession of the second half. It didn’t take long for Marlette to strike after that. Senior back Justin Carello raced down the left side 59 yards for a touchdown and Ryan Miller ran in the conversion for a 30-14 Marlette lead.

Deckerville pulled back within eight, 30-22 on the next possession. Senior fullback Andrew Estrada busted off a good gain to Raider 10, but was stripped of the ball. It took the right bounce, though, and the Eagles’ Mason Handley picked it up and scored. Patrick Franzel’s two-pointer finished it up.

The Eagles, however, had no answer for Lange’s play. With the Raiders starting on their own 15, Lange quickly hooked up with Schaub on a 33 yard pass play. Two tries later, he found Schaub wide open on the 45 yard touchdown strike.

About three minutes later, Lange reeled off his 50 yard TD run for a 46-22 advantage.

The Eagles kept it interesting when Estrada retaliated with a four yard scoring run and Asher caught a two-point pass from Pattullo to make it 46-30 with 6:02 left.

Marlette coughed it up with a fumble on the ensuing kick-off, giving the Eagles a shot at the Raider 16.

Deckerville moved no closer than the 12 before giving it up on downs. That’s when Lange raced 88 yards for the final score of the night.

Brown said he was still proud of his team’s overall effort.

“The kids played hard. They left everything on the field, and they played with class and effort. As a coach, you can be happy with that,” Brown expressed.

For the night, Marlette finished with 254 yards rushing on just 18 carries. Lange had 149 of those yards on eight attempts while Carello added 85 on seven tries. Lange also completed 14 of 19 passes for 250 yards. Schaub had a career-high five receptions for 134 yards. Thomas grabbed seven for 90.

On defense, Schaub, from a safety position, was in on 13 tackles. Evan Howard was in on 11 tackles.

Deckerville netted 235 yards on the ground (55 attempts), led by Estrada with 102 in 19 rushes.

Both teams have some final work to do in the last two weeks of the regular season.

The Raiders are likely out of the GTC East title race. Unbeaten Harbor Beach locked up a title share with a win against Sandusky and only has Mayville (1-6) left on the division schedule.

Marlette, though, has a challenge still in its final East contest at Brown City (1-3, 4-3) this Friday night. While the Raiders want to enhance their position in the playoffs, the Green Devils need to knock off Marlette and Memphis in the final two weeks to earn a postseason spot.

“Brown City got us the last couple of years. They knocked us out of the playoffs last year,” reminded Lester. “I think we’ll be ready to play. The kids want an opportunity to tie for that best record in Marlette history (8-1, 1975). They want to do that.

“But, Brown City’s going to come out tough. They want to make the playoffs. So, we have to match their intensity.”

Brown and the Eagles have a different situation than the Raiders. They must win at home against Ubly (5-2) this Friday evening or at Class B Armada (5-3) the follow week to make the post-season.

Brown commented, “We still have a tough road. Ubly has improved and they’re tough. They’ve lost two games, but (the losses) have been to quality teams (Harbor Beach, Marlette), just like we have.

“It’ll be no easy game beating them, and we know that. Then, it’s a tough week after that.”

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