OTTAWA — Now the Marquette Crusaders know how their opponents have felt the last seven years.
The Crusaders, who have traditionally used a high-powered running game to grind opponents into submission, found the shoe to be on the other foot when they hosted Forreston at Gould Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals' Dominic Christensen carried the ball nine times for 203 yards and three long scores, leading the ground-and-pound visitors for 372 yards rushing in a 42-7 thrashing of the Cru. While Ethan Mulder was adding 82 yards for Forreston, the red-and-white defense was limiting the MA offense to just 113 rush yards and 197 total yards.
The eighth-seeded Cru failed to capitalize on two excellent scoring opportunities early in the blowout — Marquette's first running-clock defeat since a 45-0 loss to Port Byron Riverdale in Week 7 of the 2011 season — and saw its 7-3 campaign on a three-game losing streak.
Defending 1A state champion Forreston, a No. 9 seed now 8-2, will take on No.1 seeded Annawan-Wethersfield at home in the second round.
"That's a very good team," said Marquette coach Tom Jobst. "We made a few mistakes early, they took advantage of them. That got the ball rolling for them and we couldn't stop it. That's what good teams do ... That was a huge turnaround (in the first quarter). They did what we expected, they just executed very well, came off the ball, they play hard, they played to the whistle. They're fundamentally sound. That's the big secret."
The Cardinals, whose quarterback Bailey Cullor had attempted just 24 passes through nine weeks and had no passing yards with an interception by Luke Couch on the day, as expected ran the ball hard, their first possession capped by an 18-yard TD by Jordan Neuschwander.
The visitors next try ended in a punt that traveled backward eight yards to give MA the ball on the Cards' 27, yet they failed to score. After Christensen broke a 33-yard touchdown run to make it 14-0, the Cru's Nick Melvin returned the kickoff 44 yards to the Forreston 17, but a fumble on first-and-goal at the three-yard line spoiled that chance.
FHS turned that momentum switch into two more scores — TD runs of 67 and 40 yards by Christensen — to take what felt like a sudden 26-0 lead.
The fate was sealed on the second play of the third stanza when Jay Scott's pass over the middle was intercepted by Cardinals defensive end Derek DeVries, who returned it 24 yards to paydirt. Later, an 11-yard scamper by Cullor set the clock running.
Marquette's only score came when Scott connected with Preston Aukland for a 25-yard touchdown with 2 minutes, 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
For the game, MA's star trio of backs Couch, Aukland and Shane Reynolds, combined for just 103 ground yards, slightly more than half of the 211.3 yards they average per game.
"I'm very proud of our defense and how they played today," said Forreston coach Kyle Zick. "We knew they like to throw the ball to the flats, to the tight end over the middle and the screens. We knew we had to take away the screen backside and our backside linebacker did a very good job of holding them up. That really took away a lot of what they like to do throwing the ball.
"Coming in, we wanted to establish the line of scrimmage and go at them off the start and our line did a very good job of that and we're very proud of them, as well.
The game was the last at Gould for the seven Crusaders seniors, who have contributed to the varsity's 36-7 record in those four seasons.
"This group of seniors, we had some good kids, some guys who worked hard to develop themselves," said Jobst. "From their freshman year to this year, they've grown so much as football players and young men, it's unbelievable. I'm proud of them and I will miss them. They stepped into a tough situation this year and did well and proved to be great leaders for our younger guys."
At Gould Stadium, Ottawa
Forreston 42, Marquette 7
Forreston (8-2) 14 12 16 0 — 42
Marquette (7-3) 0 0 7 0 — 7
FO — J. Neuschwander 18 run (Mulder run), 11:03, 7-0.
FO — Christensen 33 run (pass failed), :32,6, 14-0.
FO — Christensen 67 run (run failed), 9:49, 20-0.
FO — Christensen 40 run (run failed), 5:50, 26-0.
FO — DeVries 24 interception return (Mitchell run), 11:11, 34-0.
FO — Cullor 11 run (Politsch run), 6:48, 42-0.
MA — Aukland 25 pass from Scott (Scott kick), 2:30, 42-7.
First downs 14 13
Rushes-Yards 37-372 41-113
Passing yards 0 84
Total offense 372 197
Comp-Att-Int. 0-2-1 5-13-1
Fumbles-Lost 4-1 4-1
Penalties-Yards 5-35 6-35
Punts-Avg. 1-(-8.0) 3-22.7
Time of possession 17:01 30:59
RUSHING— Forreston — Christensen 9-203, Mulder 11-82, Mitchell 4-31, J. Neuschwander 2-22, Cullor 2-10, Owens 2-7, Politsch 2-6, King-Black 1-5, Schramm 1-4, Shelton 2-2, Beltran 1-0; Marquette — Couch 11-43, Reynolds 8-37, Aukland 8-23, Flavel 3-15, Reed 2-12, Olson 1-3, Nelson 1-3, Durdan 1-0, Scott 5-(-23).
PASSING (C-A-TD-INT-YD)— Forreston — Cullor 0-2-0-1-0; Marquette — Scott 5-13-1-1-84.
RECEIVING— Forreston — none; Marquette — Reynolds 2-40, Aukland 1-25, Couch 1-13, Melvin 1-6.