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Albert Lea falls against Marshall

Albert Lea quarterback Jake Kilby attempts to turn the corner Friday against Marshall on Homecoming at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea quarterback Jake Kilby attempts to turn the corner Friday against Marshall on Homecoming at Jim Gustafson Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

A rocky start led to the Albert Lea football team’s second consecutive loss against a ranked opponent.

In the first quarter, the No. 4 (AAAA) Marshall Tigers scored touchdowns in all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams — to build a 34-point lead en route to a 54-0 win over the Albert Lea Tigers Friday on Homecoming at Jim Gustafson Field.

“We thought we’d put up a better fight to begin with like we did against (Tri-City United) last week,” said Albert Lea coach Kevin Armbrust.

Against the No. 5 (AAA) Titans (6-0, 5-0 South Central Red) on Sept. 18 at Montgomery, Albert Lea took an early 7-0 lead before allowing 47 unanswered points.

Marshall (6-0, 6-0 South Central Red) and Tri-City United — the only two undefeated teams in the district — will play at 7 p.m. next Friday at Marshall in a game that could decide the district champion.

Although Albert Lea (0-6, 0-6 South Central Red) allowed 48 points in the first half, the team held Marshall scoreless in the third quarter and to six points in the fourth.

“We stopped the bleeding, and that’s what we wanted,” Armbrust said.

Jake Kilby led Albert Lea with 92 yards on 20 carries. He was also 1-for-10 passing for seven yards with two interceptions.

Sean Brownlow led Albert Lea’s receiving corps. with two catches from third-string quarterback Alex Goodmanson for 15 yards.

In an effort to get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, Armbrust transitioned Emmitt Stevens, who is listed as a guard on the roster, to the backfield. Stevens pounded the ball between the tackles for 20 yards on 10 carries.

“He ran hard, and we think we found something there,” Armbrust said. “Hopefully, we’ll see that blossom and really mature the next two weeks.”

Stevens also led Albert Lea’s defense with five tackles. Tristan Johnston added four. Armbrust said he was impressed with defensive play from Jarod Martin and Calvin Peterson, who had two tackles each.

Out of Marshall’s six games, the team has posted five shutouts and beaten its opponents by a combined score of 316-7.

Albert Lea has two regular-season games left. Next, the team will play at 7 p.m. next Friday at Fairmont (4-2, 3-2 South Central Red). The Cardinals lost to Tri-City United and Marshall by a combined score of 88-7 and will be coming off a 29-18 win Friday at Worthington.

In Albert Lea’s regular-season finale, the team will play at 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at St. Peter (4-2, 3-2 South Central Red). On Friday, the Saints beat Jordan 15-13.

“The next few weeks could be really good for us,” Armbrust said.