LE GRAND - For the first time this season, Class 2A No. 3 West Marshall showed it has more than just one offensive weapon.
Junior Duncan Ferch gets most of the attention for the Trojans, but Friday night against Marshall County rival East Marshall, Ferch wasn't the only one making plays.
Ferch finished with 101 rushing yards, 43 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but Devin Chesler returned a kickoff 76 yards for a score and Jake Pszanka and Elijah Streeter both nearly rushed for 100 yards in the Trojans' 55-16 victory over the Mustangs in Le Grand.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
West Marshall junior Duncan Ferch, right, stiff-arms his way past East Marshall’s Josh Wilson on his way to the end zone Friday night. Ferch finished with 144 total yards and four scores as the Trojans’ won 55-18 in Le Grand.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
East Marshall quarterback Walker Steward, center, gets tackled by West Marshall’s Devin Chesler, left, and Carsen Dunn during the Trojans’ 55-18 win Friday night in Le Grand. Steward threw a TD pass in the game for East Marshall, while Chesler returned a kickoff 76 yards for a score.
"We played well tonight," West Marshall coach Ken Winkler said. "Duncan Ferch is an excellent football player, but we proved tonight that we are more than a one-horse team. Other guys stepped up for us tonight."
The victory was the Mustangs' 21st straight district win and the fifth straight win in the West Marshall-East Marshall series. In the last five meetings, the Trojans have outscored the Mustangs, 223-19.
"We didn't execute tonight and we made way too many mistakes," East Marshall coach Patrick Farley said.
The mistakes came by way of turnovers. On the first play from scrimmage, the Mustangs lost a fumble. Ferch then needed just two plays to go 21 yards for the score.
West Marshall (7-0) led 34-0 at halftime and turned on the continuous clock shortly into the second half after Chesler returned the second-half kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown. The Trojans nearly returned another kickoff for a score in the fourth quarter.
"We definitely take pride in our special teams, and we played well in that area tonight," Winkler said. "Once we were able to figure out some of their early stunts on defense, we were able to move the ball and played much better."
Trojan quarterback Jake Pszanka may have played his best game of the season for West Marshall. He finished with 91 yards and two scores on the ground with just six carries and completed 4-of-6 passes for another 99 yards and one score.
Pszanka's big play on the ground was a 75-yard TD scamper in the first half. And the big passing play came on the final play of the second quarter when he launched a 43-yard TD pass to Ferch with just 0:00.6 seconds to play until halftime.
The Mustangs began the possession with just nine seconds on the clock following East Marshall's second lost fumble. After a timeout, the Trojans executed the pass play to perfection and went into the break with a 34-0 advantage.
"It is going to take us some time and some persistency to get this program where we want it," Farley said. "I have been a part of two other rebuilding jobs. It will come, but it is going to take a few years. The athletes on the other side of the field go out for other sports, and we don't do that here. But we will."
The Trojans scored the first 48 points in the game.
Ferch's third TD run of the night made it 48-0, but East Marshall got on the board with 9:24 to play when Walker Steward found Mitch Berry on a 30-yard touchdown strike.
Dalton Beadle also scored for East Marshall to make the final outcome 55-16. In between the two Mustang scores was the 75-yard TD blast by Pszanka. Berry finished with two catches for 87 yards and one score for East Marshall.
"It was nice to be competitive at times in this game, but we have to learn to be competitive all the way through the game," Farley said. "You have to keep coming after teams. We can't let up. But we'll learn how to win eventually."
The Mustangs dropped to 3-5 after the loss and are now 1-2 in Class 2A, District 7 play. West Marshall remains unbeaten at 7-0 and is 3-0 in District 7 action.
The Trojans reached the Class 2A semifinals last season after winning their first 12 games. Winkler doesn't want to compare this year's squad to last year's though.
"They are two different teams," he said. "And I don't know if we are going to be that good yet. We'll just see how this whole thing shakes out."
West Marshall remains on the road next Friday when they travel to Roland-Story, while East Marshall plays at Nevada. Both games will start at 7:30 p.m.
Ferch came into Friday's game ranked third in the state in rushing with 1,429 yards. His 22 rushing touchdowns also ranks fourth in the state. ... The previous three meetings against East Marshall resulted in shutouts for the Trojans. Before losing five straight, East Marshall beat West Marshall 14-7 in 2005 and 20-14 in 2004. ... Beadle led the Mustangs with 82 rushing yards on 16 carries. Zach Rubenbauer had 55 yards on the ground, while Josh Wilson carried it 12 times for 51 yards. ... West Marshall out-gained East Marshall 385-299 in the game. The Trojans rushed for 286 yards to the Mustangs' 212. The big differences in the game were the East Marshall turnovers and West Marshall's ability to play with short fields all night. ... The Trojans came into Friday having had their first bye week in Winkler's 28 years in State Center.