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Marquette senior defensive tackle Jibril Church celebrates after the Crusaders recovered a fumble Friday during their 33-12 victory over Milford-Cissna Park in a Class 1A first-round playoff game at Gould Field in Ottawa. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
Marquette’s Tyler Verona shakes off a Milford-Cissna Park defender Friday during the Crusaders’ 33-12 victory in a Class 1A first-round playoff game in Ottawa. NewsTribune photo/Chris Yucus
OTTAWA — The Milford-Cissna Park defense keyed on Marquette fullback Jacob Martini early in Friday’s Class 1A first-round playoff game.
Two of Martini’s first three carries went for two yards or less.
But the Crusaders kept going to their 6-foot, 160-pound senior.
It eventually paid off as the Marquette line pushed around the Bearcat defense and Martini bruised his way to 182 yards and three first-half touchdowns to help the Cru to a 33-12 victory at Gould Field.
“(Milford-CP) did a good job of slanting those two guys in front in, and they’d fill that hole up,” Martini said about the early carries. “(Eventually), I think our line stepped up and started blowing them out of there. A lot of times they’d hit them so far off the ball I was getting tackled from behind.”
On Martini’s fourth carry of the night, he broke free for a 17-yard touchdown run to cap Marquette’s first drive with 8:04 left in the first quarter.
On Marquette’s fourth drive — which came after the Bearcats pulled within a point on a 59-yard TD run by Devon Laubscher with 13 seconds left in the first quarter — Marquette coach Tom Jobst fed Martini on six of the Cru’s 10 plays.
Martini capped the drive with his second touchdown, running in from 18 yards out for a 13-6 Marquette lead after the extra point failed.
Jobst went to his fullback even more on Marquette’s next drive.
Martini carried the ball on nine of Marquette’s 10 plays, accounting for 51 of the team’s 60 yards on the drive and finishing it with a 2-yard TD run with 3:15 left in the half that helped the Cru go into halftime up 19-6.
“(Legendary University of Iowa coach) Hayden Fry used to say, ‘Scratch where it itches,’” Jobst said. “We just took what we could get.”
Martini’s dominance in the first half opened up the rest of the running game in the second half.
Senior tailback Cole Lindhout broke free for a 52-yard touchdown on Marquette’s second drive of the half after quarterback Patrick Killelea faked a handoff to Martini before giving it to Lindhout coming right behind the fullback.
Lindhout later scored on a 17-yard run with 11:22 left in the game to put Marquette up 33-6.
“With one of our plays, I’d go get about 10 yards, then we had another play that was a fake to me and Cole would just explode,” Martini said. “He’s agile. He’s fast. He just did a good job, especially in the second half.”
Lindhout’s first touchdown swung the momentum firmly in Marquette’s favor. On Marquette’s first drive of the half, the Crusaders lost a fumble to give the Bearcats possession on Marquette’s 35-yard line.
Milford-CP drove down to get first-and-goal from the 5-yard line, but the Crusaders mounted a goal-line stand with a 1-yard run, an incompletion, a negative 1-yard run and another incompletion on fourth down.
“It was very key,” Martini said. “We knew that was a big play. We were going, we had the momentum, then they got the ball on that fumble. We got together, had a lot of heart and did what needed to be done.”
Lindhout scored five plays later to put Marquette up 27-6 with 3:33 left in the third. The Marquette defense was strong all night, limiting the Bearcats to 278 total yards — 196 on the ground and 82 through the air — and forcing four turnovers — two fumbles and two interceptions.
Milford-CP’s second touchdown came on a 56-yard hook-and-ladder with 2:02 left in the game.
“They scored on a rooskie and a (hook-and-ladder) against some of our second-teamers, so I’ll take that” Jobst said. “We did a great job. The line did a great job of playing their responsibilities instead of running all over. They still had some plays and a good offense will, but I’m really happy with the defense.”
Marquette (10-0) advances to the second round for the second year in a row. The Crusaders will play either Hope Academy — a member of the Northeastern Athletic Conference that Marquette beat 28-0 on Sept. 20 — or Abingdon.
Hope and Abingdon play at 6 tonight.
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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