“It was a typical Hutchinson-Marshall game.” head coach Andy Rostberg said after his team celebrated a 28-14 win in the Section 2AAAA Championship Friday. The win is Hutch’s first section title since 2014.
It wasn’t an offensive bonanza like Hutchinson has enjoyed in recent games. Marshall held Hutch to its lowest score since early September, but Hutch led a slow grind on the ground to score a touchdown in each quarter. Combined with a stellar defensive night that included three interceptions and a game-clinching pick-6, the Tigers will play in their first state tournament in five years.
“That’s something we’ve all been working for for a long time,” senior running back Tyler Schiller said. “Just to be able to do that and finally get what, I think, we deserve, it felt great for the all the guys. We really enjoyed it, worked hard for it.”
The scoring began on Hutch’s first drive when Schiller hit a hole on the right side and cut back to the outside to score a 29-yard touchdown. He led Hutch’s ground attack with 181 yards on 25 carries.
“We’ve got some really good big guys up front who are willing to put their hand in the dirt and knock whoever it is on their butt,” Schiller said about the offensive line. “They don’t shy away from a challenge, and all season they’ve done a really good job.”
Marshall answered on its next drive with a 10-yard touchdown pass, but Hutch held Marshall scoreless through the next two quarters.
While the defense put up zeros, Hutchinson scored twice more, once in the second quarter and once in the third, on rushes from Russell Corrigan. Both of those scoring drives lasted nine minutes and hampered Marshall’s flow on offense.
Marshall did not go away quietly, though. After being held out of the end zone for 30 minutes, it scored early in the fourth quarter to cut its deficit to just eight points.
Following a scoreless drive from Hutchinson, Marshall got the ball back, which set up the play of the game. Mitchell Piehl jumped a wide receiver’s route for his second interception of the night, but this time he ran it all the way back for a 60-yard touchdown to put a dagger in Marshall’s comeback hopes.
“I knew that they were going to pass the ball,” Piehl said. “We’ve been practicing the slant route in practice, then I saw the receiver break for the slant and the quarterback released the ball and I just followed the play. I knew once the ball was in the air that the ball was mine.”
“Piehl came up huge,” Schiller said about the play. “After that, I really wanted to stick it to Marshall right there.”
The Hutch defense followed up the next series with two sacks to set Marshall back deep and force a punt, and Marshall never got the ball back.
The Tigers’ return to state ends a four-year drought that wasn’t the longest in the program’s history, but certainly felt like a long time for a team accustomed to winning. This was Hutch’s 23rd section title since it won its first in 1973. Since then, the longest the Tigers have gone without a title was six years, between 2005 and 2012. Before that Hutch had a five-year drought between 1985 and 1991.
While the title is great, the Tigers have even more in mind.
“A section title isn’t everything,” senior lineman Cody Kurth said. “We’re looking for more. We need to move on. It was nice to beat (Marshall), but now we have to move on and take on the next team.”
That next team is the Fridley Tigers, which Hutch will play in the state quarterfinal at 6 p.m. Friday at Hopkins High School. Hutchinson has already begun watching tape and preparing for that game.
“A big thing is the quarterback,” Kurth said. “You have to make sure you don’t give him room to run, because if he sees an opening he’ll take it, and he’s fast.”
No matter who Hutch faces from here on out, though, they know it’ll be a tall order with tough competiton. It is the state tournament, after all.
“That’s how it gets this time of year,” Rostberg said. “It just gets that way, all the teams are going to be good and they’re going to have good players and be well coached.”
Hutchinson 28, Marshall 14 (Oct. 26)
Marsh … 6 0 0 8
Hutch … 6 8 8 6
H—Tyler Schiller 29 run (run good)
M—Konnor Aufenthie 10 pass to Dean Pochardt (kick failed)
H—Russell Corrigan 9 run (Corrigan pass to Aaron Elliott)
H—Corrigan 6 run (Corrigan run)
M—Aufenthie 2 run (Aufenthie pass to Steinbach)
H—Mitch Piehl 60 interception retun (run failed)
Rushing — Hutch: 54-275; Marshall: N/A
Passing yards — Hutch: 4/6-72; Marshall: N/A
Total offense — Hutch: 347; Manrshall: N/A
Passing: Corrigan 4-6-72-0-0
Rushing: Hayden Jensen 2-3, Tyler Schiller 25-181, Mitchell Piehl 3-11, Ty Glaser 2-2, Corrigan 22-78
Receiving: Sam Rensch 1-14, Ethan Beffert 2-46, Aaron Elliott 1-12
Tackles: Logan Holtz 2, Zeke Cosby 1, Billy Marquardt 2, Rensch 3, Beffert 2, Schiller 4, Elliott 1, Dawson McCarthy 2, Piehl 3, Alex Nelson 3, Corrigan 1, Tristan Hoppe 5, Cody Kurth 2, Jordan Titus 1
Sacks: Beffert 1, Kurth 1
Interception: Rensch 1, Piehl 2