MARQUETTE—The Menominee Maroons’ defense forced four turnovers while Aidan Bellisle accounted for five touchdowns as Menominee snapped a three-game losing streak to Marquette with a 34-13 victory over the Redmen on Friday.
The win gives Menominee at least a partial share of the Great Northern Conference championship. The Maroons can clinch the GNC title outright with a victory over Kingsford on Oct. 22 at Walton Blesch Field.
Against Marquette (3-1 GNC, 5-2 overall), the Maroons were tasked with shutting down the high-octane offense of the Redmen, who entered Friday’s game averaging over 40 points per game.
Quarterback Austin Ridl, who was 3-0 against Menominee, was held to 13-of-25 passing and 234 yards, and while he did throw for three touchdowns, the Maroons’ defense picked him off three times while also forcing a fumble.
Menominee limited the Redmen to 53 plays and 329 yards.
“Our players and our coaches came together with a good game plan. Coach (Chad) Brandt developed a great game plan defensively and our players executed it well,” Menominee coach Joe Noha said.
Bellisle, fresh off tying the Menominee High School single-game touchdown record (six) against Escanaba the week before, carved up Marquette’s defense with both his arms and legs.
Bellisle ran for 79 yards and two touchdowns and completed 11 of his 19 passes, throwing for 205 yards and three scores, piloting a Maroons’ offense that racked up 429 total yards.
“Aidan had a great night. In my opinion, he was the best player on the entire field,” Noha said.
The Maroons struck pay dirt on their first drive of the game after Bellisle powered in a 4-yard touchdown run to cap off a 13-play, 82-yard drive that gave Menominee an early 6-0 lead.
The Redmen began their first drive on their own 44-yard line and immediately invaded the Maroon’s side of the field after Ridl hit Owen Beauchamp for a 44-yard gain. Menominee’s defense managed to hold Marquette out of the end zone and forced the Redmen to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Ryland Kohler.
Menominee wasted no time answering back, as Trevor Theuerkauf busted off a 31-yard run before Bellisle scored on a 6-yard scamper.
The two teams traded possessions before Marquette marched into Menominee territory thanks to a 32-yard bomb to from Ridl to Beauchamp, but facing a second down-and-10 from the Maroons’ 25-yard line, Ridl fumbled the ball and Cooper Conway scooped it up to keep the Redmen out of the end zone.
The Maroons cashed in seven plays later after Bellisle hooked up with Brady Badker for a 44-yard touchdown toss, and a successful 2-point conversion pass to Brody Waara gave Menominee a 17-point cushion with eight minutes and 59 seconds remaining in the first half.
Marquette tacked on another field goal from Kohler, this time from 31-yards out, to cut its deficit to 14 and forced a quick Menominee three-and-out to regain possession at the Redmen’s 49-yard line.
Ridl found Justin Jurmu for a 16-yard gain and hit David Eberhard for a 9-yard completion to move the ball to the Menominee 26-yard line, but Kaeden Calcari snuffed out another potential scoring drive for Marquette by picking off Ridl at the 4-yard line, preserving the Maroons’ 20-6 advantage going into halftime.
Menominee forced a quick three-and-out to start the third quarter and milked nearly six minutes off the clock with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that Bellisle capped off with an 11-yard scoring strike to Badker. The two-point pass to Eli Beal put the Maroons on top 28-6.
Marquette cut Menominee’s lead to 15 after Ridl hit Eberhard for a 15-yard touchdown, and a fourth-down stand by the Redmen defense gave Marquette the ball at Menominee’s 19-yard line.
After a false start on Marquette, a 13-yard pass to Desmond Mullen moved the ball to the 11-yard line, and Mullen picked up three more yards on the ground to give the Redmen a first-and-goal at the eight. Ridl’s pass to Beauchamp was incomplete before Bellisle stepped in front of his next throw to record Menominee’s second interception of the day, once again preventing a Marquette score.
Bellisle put the game out of reach three plays later with a 42-yard touchdown pass to Badker, and Waara put the Redmen on ice after picking off Ridl with 3:05 remaining.
Badker caught four passes for 144 yards and three scores, Waara added four catches for 57 yards and Conway had one reception for five yards.
Calcari tallied 81 yards on 11 carries while Theuerkauf chipped in three carries for 43 yards. Landen Bardowski recorded 11 carries for 24 yards.
Beauchamp was Marquette’s top pass catcher with three grabs for 125 yards. Eberhard hauled in four balls for 49 yards and a score while Jurmu had three catches for 27 yards.
Ridl led the Redmen on the ground with five carries for 56 yards while Mullen had 12 carries for 45 yards to go along with two catches for 27 yards. Dustin Lohfink had 10 yards on four carries.
With just two games remaining in the regular season, Noha said that health and effort will determine the Maroons’ fortunes.
“First and foremost, we have to get and stay healthy,” he said. “Our kids believe in themselves and each other. They’ve continued to improve each week because they continue to put the time and effort in between games to get better. As long as we keep playing hard and giving good effort for four quarters, we should be able to close out the regular season on a pretty nice run.”
Menominee’s next game is a road test on Friday against Little Chute of Wisconsin’s North Eastern Conference. The Mustangs (2-4 NEC, 3-4 overall) held off Marinette 17-16 at Higley Stadium.
Friday’s game kicks off at 7 p.m.