SANDWICH – The first matchup of the Indians in the newly minted Kishwaukee River/Interstate Eight Blue Conference went to the team from Marengo over that from Sandwich.
Marengo upped its record to 5-3 and 4-1 in league play, combining great passing with excellent rushing to amass 461 yards of total offense as the Indians from the north beat the Indians from the south, 43-21, Friday, Oct. 15, on Sandwich’s senior night.
As a result, Marengo is now playoff eligible for the third consecutive full season pending next week’s crucial Week 9 matchup with undefeated Richmond-Burton at Marengo.
“Five wins makes us eligible, and playoff point-wise we should be in good shape, I’d think,” said MHS coach Paul Forsythe. “I’m not going to hit that button yet, because we have a huge game next Friday against Richmond-Burton, but I like our chances after a big win here against a Sandwich team that was very tough and never gave up on their senior night.”
Sandwich (0-8, 0-5) was able to stay strong throughout three-plus quarters, trailing only by seven with 8:27 to go in the contest behind a game-high 29 rushes, 190 yards and two touchdowns from junior fullback Seven Tornga.
But Marengo put the game away late, as junior quarterback Josh Holst produced a monster night passing, connecting on 22 of 27 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns, while senior running back Dylan Stolz added three scores of his own toting the ball 26 times for 171 yards, including the last two of his team’s tallies.
“I’m proud of my effort tonight, and the holes my offensive line gave me, you could fit busses in them. It was a great win for us tonight.”— Marengo's Dylan Stolz
Sandwich ended up with 296 yards of total offense, all on the ground.
“I’m so proud of our guys for competing so well against a very strong team like Marengo,” said Sandwich coach Kris Cassie. “After last week’s close loss to Harvard, I think we responded well, and Seven was a beast tonight.
“We were right there in the fourth quarter, but Marengo’s balance with the pass and the run was ultimately the difference in the ballgame.”
Marengo took the opening drive of the game and traveled 68 yards on 10 plays when Holst hit junior Logan Miller (nine receptions, 114 yards) with a 24-yard touchdown strike at 8:29 of the opening quarter. Holst’s two-point run was on point, and Marengo led 8-0.
Holst would find Miller again, this time from 23 yards out at 1:37 of the opening frame. The point-after pass failed, but Marengo led 14-0 entering the second period.
Marengo made it 22-0 when Holst connected with senior Collin Aubry (eight catches, 91 yards) with a 53-yard scoring strike at 9:34 of the second stanza to put his team up big after Miller’s two-point conversion scamper.
“We came out strong, and we knew what we needed to do with our passing game early on,” Holst said. “I kept throwing the ball, and it really paid off for us.”
Sandwich found new life after Marengo was driving for another score when senior Christian Sommers recovered a fumble at midfield.
From there, Tornga eventually tallied after an 8-yard touchdown run at 1:02 that cut Marengo’s lead to 22-8 after Tornga ran home the two-point conversion.
On the opening kick of the third quarter, Sandwich junior Doug Taxis returned the ball 47 yards to the Marengo 34. Seven plays later, Tornga added a 2-yard run at 8:13 to cut the Sandwich gap to 22-15 before Stolz tallied from 1 yard out to put his team up 28-15 entering the final period.
But Sandwich wasn’t done quite yet.
On its first possession of the final frame, Tornga rambled 45 yards to the Marengo 20-yard line. On the next play, senior Cainan Haick rushed 20 yards to paydirt to pull the home squad to within a touchdown at 28-21.
But Stolz would add scoring runs of 15 yards at 3:50 and another 1-yard blast with 1:07 left to play to seal the deal for Marengo.
“I’m proud of my effort tonight, and the holes my offensive line gave me, you could fit buses in them,” Stolz said. “It was a great win for us tonight, and I’m very pumped going into our final regular-season game against Richmond-Burton.”