By Paul Lecker
WAUSAU – For the second straight season, the Marshfield football team was sent to defeat in heartbreaking fashion by Wausau West.
Last year, the Warriors blocked a potential game-tying extra point in the final minutes to preserve a one-point win.
On Friday, in the 2014 opener, Marshfield rallied to tie the score with less than 3 minutes left but couldn’t stop Wausau West fullback Jake Whalen, who scored on a 13-yard touchdown run with 39 seconds to go to lift the Warriors to a 27-20 nonconference victory at Thom Field.
Marshfield led 17-13 at halftime and the lead held going into the fourth quarter before West began to wear down the Tigers’ defense.
West drove 64 yards in 10 plays on its opening drive of the fourth and it ended with a 7-yard touchdown run by Whalen that put the Warriors up 20-17.
Marshfield, which had three straight three-and-outs in the second half, finally got its offense rolling. The drive, helped by two pass interference penalties, brought the Tigers to the 12. An offsides penalty and an incomplete pass killed the drive and Zach McManus kicked a 22-yard field goal to tie the game at 20-20 with 2:48 to go.
West returned the kick to the 32 and Whalen went to work, running five times on the seven-play drive for 45 of his game-high 173 yards. A 15-yard pass from David Seamon to Kyle Nickel on a third-down play helped keep the drive alive before Whalen scored from 13 yards out to give the Warriors the lead.
Marshfield quarterback Derek Coffren, who completed15 of 27 passes for 234 yards in the first half, was held to 30 yards passing in the second half and an interception from the 48-yard line with 12 seconds left ended the game.
“Jake Whalen ran over us,” Marshfield coach Denny Goettl said. “He’s going to be a Division I football player and that’s the way it is. We didn’t make things happen with our offense, but we’ll get better though. You have to give credit where credit is due. That boy’s good and that team played around him.”
Marshfield’s new no-huddle, spread offense was a success early as the Tigers took the opening kickoff and went 60 yards in just five plays. One minute and five seconds into the season, Coffren ran in from one-yard out to give the Tigers an early 7-0 lead.
Coffren completed all three of his pass attempts for 51 yards on the drive.
A high snap on a punt attempt gave Wausau West prime field position at the 12 midway through the first quarter and Seamon scored on a two-yard sneak to tie the game.
McManus connected on a 24-yard field goal following a 45-yard pass from Coffren to Kegan Fasler in the second quarter to put Marshfield up 10-7.
“When you have the guy running (Whalen) and we’re going three-and-out in our hurry-up offense, you’re not going to get the ball much and it takes a toll on our defense. We have to get better together and next week we’ll come back again.”
The lead was short-lived as West went 62 yards and scored on an 11-yard run by Seamon with 3:07 to go before halftime. The extra point was blocked and Marshfield trailed 13-10.
The Tigers quickly turned the tables as Coffren completed four straight passes for 67 yards and tossed a 45-yard touchdown to Tanner Boson to put Marshfield back on top, 17-13.
Marshfield hosts Wausau East in its final nonconference game next Friday at Beell Stadium.
Warriors 27, Tigers 20
Marshfield 7 10 0 3 – 20
Wausau West 7 6 0 14 – 27
M – Derek Coffren 1 run (Zach McManus kick), 10:55.
W – David Seamon 2 run (Travis Lang kick), 7:01.
M – McManus 24 field goal, 7:27.
W – Seamon 11 run (kick blocked), 3:07.
M – Tanner Boson 45 pass from Coffren (McManus kick), 2:22.
W – Jake Whalen 7 run (Lang kick), 7:09.
M – McManus 22 field goal, 2:48.
W – Whalen 13 run (Lang kick), 0:39.
First downs: Marshfield 14; Wausau West 20.
Rushing (att-yards): Marshfield 22-53; Wausau West 57-327.
Passing (comp-att-yards-int): Marshfield 18-34-244-2; Wausau West 11-16-107-1.
Penalties (No.-yards): Marshfield 7-60; Wausau West 16-119.
Punting (No.-avg.): Marshfield 4-38.5; Wausau West 34.7.
Fumbles (Total-lost): Marshfield 1-0; Wausau West 0-0.
Rushing: M, Thomas Gisvold 13-49, Derek Coffren 8-15, Zach McManus 1-minus 11. W, Jake Whalen 25-173, Jake Kraimer 17-102, Curtis Baine 5-28, Payton Nelson 3-12, Drew Chibici 1-11, David Seamon 5-1.
Passing: M, Coffren 18-34-244-2. W, Seamon 11-16-107-1.
Receiving: M, Kegan Fassler 7-117, Tanner Boson 6-54, Nick Hoheisel 3-19, McManus 2-54. W, Kyle Nickel 4-39, Sam Paoli 4-28, Jake Whalen 2-32, Kraimer 1-8.
Interceptions: W, Nelson, Sully Phillips.
Records: Marshfield 0-1; Wausau West 1-0.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com).