COOS BAY — Marshfield’s football team passed its final nonleague test with flying colors Friday night, shutting out Klamath Union 49-0 at Pete Susick Stadium.
The Pirates were stifling on defense, especially in the first half, and dominant on offense as they improved to 2-1 heading into next week’s showdown with Cottage Grove, the team that beat the Pirates for the Class 4A state title last fall.
“Ever since that loss, we wanted to get them this year,” Marshfield’s Josiah Niblett said of the Lions, who are now in the same league with Marshfield since the Pirates joined the Sky-Em League this fall.
Aside from a few miscues and penalties in the second quarter, Marshfield did most things right Friday night.
The Pelicans, who entered the game 1-1 just like Marshfield, did not have a first down on their first seven possessions and had only 19 yards in the first half. Their only first down in the first two quarters came on a Marshfield facemask penalty on a play that would have gone for a 5-yard loss.
“Our linebackers were just reading the keys,” said Marshfield’s Sirus Robie, who recovered a fumble in the first half.
Fellow linebacker Niblett agreed.
“We worked hard all week on reading their guards, playing downhill and swarming to the ball,” he said.
Between the linebackers and Marshfield’s tough front line, more than half of Klamath Union’s rushing attempts in the first half went for zero or negative yardage.
Meanwhile, the Pirates were having no trouble moving the ball, primarily with Robie and Niblett.
By the end of the night, Robie had 203 yards on 18 carries, including six that went for at least 10 yards, and Niblett had 101 yards on 16 carries.
Neither scored until the second half though, just setting up Marshfield TDs — scoring passes from Grant Woolsey to Cory Stover of 6 and 5 yards sandwiched around a 1-yard keeper by Woolsey and a 22-yard sprint around the end by Tyler Thornton.
Marshfield’s 28-0 halftime lead might have been more, but the Pirates lost a fumble and Woolsey was intercepted near the goal line by Jagger Hogan just before Klamath Union’s only first-half first down.
The fumble came on the end of a possession that also included back-to-back blocking in the back penalties on the Pirates.
Aside from the mistakes, Marshfield coach John Lemmons was thrilled with his team’s effort.
“We played pretty well except for the second quarter,” Lemmons said. “We got a little sloppy. We need to clean up those mistakes.”
Overall, he said, “the kids played their best game so far.”
Robie and Niblett finally had touchdown runs in the second half, as did Niblett’s younger brother, Noah.
Robie almost had two scores, but he was pulled down just short of the goal line on a 79-yard dash on his final carry.
Both Robie and Niblett thrived during the game on yards after the first time they were hit by Klamath Union defenders, something that comes from drills in practice, they said.
“We keep running through contact,” Niblett said. “Keep your feet alive.”
Marshfield finished with 377 yards rushing and 484 yards of total offense, to 136 for the Pelicans — 41 coming on one run late in the game against Marshfield backups.
The Pelicans almost avoided a shutout, but Kya Hammersley’s 22-yard field goal attempt was ruled just outside the upright in the final 90 seconds.
Marshfield now can look ahead to its homecoming game against Cottage Grove. The players talked in the team huddle after the game of the importance of every player, especially the scout team to give the starters a good read on what the Lions like to do.
“It’s super important,” Robie said of preparation during the week. “We need to be super tight, super disciplined.”
The Pirates have been looking forward to the Lions since last November.
“We’re going to play them and play them hard,” Robie said.
Like his players, Lemmons has been anticipating the matchup.
“It’s been a long time waiting,” he said. “It’s going to be fun.”
Cottage Grove suffered its first loss Friday night, 28-27 to Stayton.