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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Maroons Sink Marines

Maroons Take 8th Straight M&M Game

One of the area's greatest and most historic traditions took place Saturday as the 111th playing of the annual M&M game took place at Walton Blesch Field with Menominee hosting Marinette. Both teams battled to a 0-0 tie into the second quarter. From there, it was turnovers that spelled doom for the Marines, as the Maroons took advantage of their opportunities.

Three long drives dominated the first quarter. Menominee took the opening kickoff and slowly chunked their way down the field. Menominee's Jacob Rivard ripped off a 7-yard run on fourth and 4 to keep the drive alive. The Maroons worked their way to Marinette's 36-yardline, but from there the Marines dug their heels in. A one-yard loss, followed by an incompletion, a no gain and another incomplete pass, gave Marinette their first opportunity on offense.

Marine starting quarterback Trey Bretl recorded five plays before suffering an ankle injury. His first four plays, he handed the ball off to running back Adam Wahl. On the fifth, Bretl suffered a sack and the injury that ended his day. Matt Wagner took over under center and after a holding penalty, was faced with third and 24. An incomplete pass brought on a Marinette punt.

"That's the biggest thing, we're thin. They're in the same position we are. It is what it is. It's not just one side of the ball, it's both sides and special teams, there's a ripple effect," said Marine Coach Andy Walters of the injury to Bretl.

Menominee took over on their own 34-yard line. A heavy dose of Ethan Mileski and Henry Lerret looked to give the Maroons a promising drive. Mileski broke off a 28-yard run that put the Maroons in position to score at the 14-yard line. On the seventh play of the drive, a Marine tackler forced a fumble that Marinette recovered on the 2-yard line, avoiding a score and ending the Maroon attack.

Wahl ran the ball for a 4-yard gain to end the quarter with a score of 0-0. On the first play of the second quarter, Wahl took the handoff off the left tackle and ran 54 yards before being caught from behind. After an incomplete pass, Wagner passed again, this time in the direction of big tight end Jake Poetzl, but Maroon safety Mileski high-pointed the ball and intercepted it, returning it to midfield.

It took just seven plays before Mileski found Jacob Rivard on a wheel route for a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch past a Marine defender down the sideline, a gain of 30-yards that resulted in the first score of the game. Menominee went ahead 6-0 with 7:13 remaining on the clock in the second quarter.

"That was great coverage, we were right in his hip pocket and [Mileski] put it right over [Rivard's] outside shoulder. That was a heck of a throw and a heck of a catch," said Coach Walters of the play.

Marinette attempted to answer back, but a fumble recovered by the Maroons ended the drive. Both defenses made any offense extremely difficult, until the Maroons got hot at the end of the half. Menominee took over on their own 47-yard line with 2:39 on the clock. The Maroons put together a 10-play drive featuring a converted third down and a successful fourth and 3 to keep the drive alive. On the final play of the drive, Mileski dropped back and found tight end Kyle Anderson for an 8-yard pitch-and-catch TD. The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, but Menominee went ahead 12-0 with just 44 seconds on the clock.

"We have a couple options on a couple things that we do that, Ethan Mileski did a really nice job reading the defense and taking what they were giving us," Maroon Coach Joe Noha said.

Marinette ran the ball twice to run out the clock, giving Menominee a 12-0 lead at the halftime break.

In the second half, it was seemingly a different Marinette attack offensively. Down 12 points, the Marines took to the air, primarily targeting big receivers Poetzl and Matt Eldredge. On third and 5, Wagner dropped back to find Eldredge for a 13-yard gain and a first down. The drive stalled on a third and 15 when Wagner's pass fell incomplete forcing a punt.

The Maroons' offense drove down the field on the Marines. A 14-play drive starting on their own 39 came down to a fourth and 7 from the Marinette 8-yard line. Mileski dropped back and threw an incomplete pass in the end zone. Marinette avoided a steeper climb once again, and took over on downs.

Marinette's drive quickly took a turn for the worse as a fumble recovered by the Maroons was returned to the Marines' 19-yard line.  Just two plays later, Rivard turned the turnover into points with a 2-yard TD run that ended the third quarter. Shawn Sandahl's extra point was good and Menominee jumped ahead 19-0, heading into the final quarter.

Another Marinette drive was hindered by a turnover. Wagner found Eldredge on a curl route, but he fumbled on the 49-yard line and the Maroons recovered. Thankfully for Marinette, no harm was done as the Marine defense forced a punt. The Marine luck quickly ran out once again as Wagner was drilled attempting to pass, fumbled the ball and once again, the Maroons recovered. 

Keeping the ball on the ground to run out the clock, Menominee ran eight consecutive run plays that brought them to the 9-yard line. On the ninth play of the drive, Rivard cashed in on a 9-yard TD run. Sandahl's extra point pushed the lead to 26-0 with just 1:50 left on the clock.

Marinette scored on a last second touchdown as Dylan Poquette broke free for a 70-yard run, down to Menominee's four-yard line. With one second on the clock, Marinette called a timeout for one final play.  Poquette finished the drive with a 4-yard TD run, that brought the score to its final of 26-6.

"Overall, our defense played really well, we bent a little bit but didn't break. I thought, defensively with our young kids, and we have 13 or 14 new starters, I thought we did pretty well," said Coach Noha of his defense.

Mileski finished the game 11 of 19 passing for 140 yards and two TDs for Menominee, while also running the ball 14 times for 59 yards.  Rivard led the Maroon ground game with 95 yards on 17 carries, good for two touchdowns. Brendon Harris was Menominee's key receiver, hauling in three catches for 47 yards.

Marinette's Wagner finished 7 of 15 for 139 yards and an interception, filling in at the quarterback position. Wahl was the workhorse for the Marines, ending the game with 108 yards on 17 carries. Eldredge pulled in six receptions for 117 yards.

The turnover battled keyed the victory for the Maroons as they committed just one, compared to five from the Marines.

"Last year, we turned it over four times. This year, that was one of our points of emphasis: not to turn it over and give it back to them because of the way they run the football. When you give the opposition another chance to put points on the board, it's difficult," Coach Noha commented on the turnovers.

"We made a lot of mistakes. We did a lot of things offensively that hurt ourselves." Coach Walters added about the turnovers, "Look at all the statistics that go along with the turnover battle. The team that wins the turnover battle, statistically, is going to come out on top. It was severely lopsided, that's tough. Playing against a good program and a good team, that's a recipe for disaster right there."

When asked about what he learned about his team in their first game, Coach Noha had nothing but praise for his players, "I learned that the effort was consistent, the attitude was great and that they're really, super coachable. Our senior leadership was good, there was a lot of stuff on the sideline I noticed by them. So, I am really pleased with that. As we come together as a group, hopefully we can sure up the things that we are weak on and get better at that."

"This is obviously a big deal, you get a little bit more nervous, because the alumni come back, the old timers are up in the stands. It means a lot to the history and tradition of both communities.  I give Andy [Walters] and their staff a lot of credit, their kids really played hard. The rivalry is very gratifying," said Coach Noha on the tradition and history of the M&M game.


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