FOOTBALL - Cougars Claim Final M&O Crown
Final regular season game for both teams, final M&O Conference game ever, Coleman's homecoming and two unbeaten conference teams made for one exhilarating matchup. Defense was the name of the game in an old-school-type M&O battle when Peshtigo traveled to Coleman Friday night. The standing-room-only crowd watched as the long history of the Marinette and Oconto Conference come to a thrilling finish.
"This is one of the games the kids circle. They know each other whether it's through baseball or wrestling or whatever. It's always nice to have that one-up over someone you compete with and it's Coleman-Peshtigo, you always want to win that game. We're rivals for a reason, we're usually two good teams." Coleman Head Coach Jeff Bronson stated.
Coleman took command early in the contest. After forcing the Bulldogs to punt on their opening possession, the Cougars did what Coleman always does: wear down the defense. The guys in green put together an impressive 11-play 64-yard drive that was capped off by an Austin Tachick 4-yard touchdown run. After Jacob Zeitler punched in the two-point conversion, Coleman led 8-0.
The Bulldogs put together an impressive drive on their next possession driving the ball down the field before stopping on Coleman's 14-yard line. On fourth down Justin Thill's pass fell incomplete in the end zone resulting in a turnover on downs as Coleman avoided danger.
Peshtigo's response came late in the second quarter. Beginning from their own 40-yardline, the Bulldogs marched the ball down to the Cougar 24-yardline. This was thanks, in part, to a pass interference call on Coleman. Junior quarterback Riley Reif took the reins of the offense and quickly found pay dirt. Reif launched a 24-yard missile to Nick Nielson in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. The two-point conversion was unsuccessful, but Peshtigo had cut the lead to 8-6 before halftime.
Coleman's final drive of the half looked promising, but Nielson intercepted Jordan Blanchard's pass in the end zone to keep the score at 8-6 at halftime.
The Cougars received the second half kickoff but were forced to punt. Peshtigo looked to use the momentum created by their defense on their first drive. However, Coleman punter Josh Pillath unleashed a 56-yard punt that pinned the Bulldogs on their own 9-yardline. The momentum switched to the home team and Peshtigo was forced into a three-and-out. Thanks to a short punt, Coleman took over on the Bulldog 39-yardline.
After a 20-yard scamper from Zeitler, the Cougars were nearing the end zone. Peshtigo's defense forced a tough fourth down and seven from the 17-yardline. Quarterback Bryce Karban rolled to his right, avoided a sack, and threw a strike to Blanchard for a gain of 10 yards to extend the drive. Three plays later Tachick capitalized by scoring from 5 yards out, extending the lead to 14-6 with just under three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Thill and running back Jerod Jandt helped the Bulldogs pull the game closer on the ensuing drive. Thill tossed a 24-yard pass to Max Neumann who made an acrobatic tip-toe catch on the Coleman side-line. Jandt then broke free for a 15-yard run to keep the momentum in Peshtigo's favor. After Jandt continued his tough running, Thill found Justin Fischer on a 10-yard gain to end the third quarter.
It seemed the break between quarters was all the Cougar defense needed to sharpen up. Coleman forced a fourth-and-goal from the 4-yardline where Peshtigo decided to kick the field goal. From 21 yards out, Aidan Bohaczek's kick was good, trimming the lead to 14-9, Coleman.
"We figured there was a lot of time left, get the points on the board and get a stop and the ball back. Then, a touchdown wins the game and we don't have to worry about a two-point conversion or anything like that. It went in, but we just couldn't capitalize at the end," explained Peshtigo Head Coach Eric Seyler of the decision to kick the field goal.
Both defenses forced punts from the opposing offenses as neither team could seem to get the ball rolling. Peshtigo took the ball with just over two and a half minutes remaining. After driving the ball down just passed mid-field, the Bulldog drive was halted. Thill looked for a receiver over the middle but was intercepted by Zeitler with just over a minute and a half remaining. Thankfully for Peshtigo, they still had two of their timeouts. Coleman did what they could to run out the clock, but Peshtigo took over with 37 seconds remaining in the game.
Thill connected down the Bulldog sideline with wide-out Jeremy VanVooren for a 36-yard gain, marking the ball at the Coleman 41-yardline.
"Oh man, it's frustrating, but it's football and it's a marathon. It's sort of like a rollercoaster with all of the ups and downs but we worked hard to get here and it paid off," added Cougar Senior Gunnar Patz of the last drive, "We knew they're going to have some catches whether they were short or long. We just had to accept it and move on to the next down."
Peshtigo was called for pass interference on an incomplete pass pushing them back 15 yards. Two incompletions preceded a long, last-second heave by Thill that was intercepted by Tachick to end the game. Coleman grabbed the narrow 14-9 victory in the final football game of the M&O.
"They were loose tonight and it showed. They don't play well when they're tight. They weren't satisfied with the first eight weeks and the past two years that they've played, they really wanted it tonight and it showed. They rallied around each other," Coach Bronson said of his team.
"It was hard but hey, we did it. We knew coming in we really needed to prepare ourselves. We knew it would be pretty much head-to-head but we pulled through," said Patz of the tough victory.
Tachick finished the game with 44 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Zeitler led the Coleman rushing attack with 107 yards on 23 touches. Karban completed two of four passes for 17 yards as leading receiver Blanchard hauled in one catch for 10 yards.
"We came out focused tonight which hasn't been the case all the time," added Coach Bronson, "The problem is, their adjustments, we didn't adapt as fast as we could have. But, that's a Pat Robbins defense, he's good for a reason, he knows what he's doing."
"It was a good game, everything we thought it would be. We knew we weren't going to put a ton of points up but I told the kids we didn't play our best game and only lost by 5. We had some opportunities, but we have to move on. This stings, but our season continues and our new season starts next week," said Coach Seyler of the game.
For Peshtigo, Thill finished the game with 4 completions on 17 attempts for 67 yards. Reif went 1 for 1 on the evening with a 24-yard touchdown pass. Jandt carried the ball 24 times for 101 yards while VanVooren's 36-yard reception helped him lead the way for the pass-catchers.
"We told the guys, look, we're not going to shut them out. I thought we responded pretty well, we had a little drive going there and stopped. I mean, 14-9, since I've been here this is the typical Peshtigo-Coleman game and it lived up to the billing, we just wish we were on the other end of the scoreboard," Coach Seyler said.
Rangers In Season Finale
The 2016 season has wound down to an end for the M&O, an end that not only brings the final game of the season but the final conference match up between long time rivals Wausaukee and Crivitz.
In this final M&O match up between the Rangers and the Wolverines, it was the Blue and Gold of the Wolverines that shined the brightest. Blasting the Rangers out with 41 second half points to win 44-14.
There aren't too many games in the prep season that start with three points on the board, but this one certainly did. Last week Crivitz's Terje Pederson drilled a big field goal. This week he booted home a 21 yard field goal to give the contest its first points.
Crivitz opened the night and were forced to a three and out. But a fumble on the ensuing Wausaukee drive, gave the Wolverines the ball back on the Rangers 22 yard line.
After a strong defense showing by the Rangers, which held the Wolverines out on the four yard line, Pederson struck with that 21 yard boot.
Wausaukee wasn't able to respond till the second quarter, when Matthew Delfosse connected with Cody Renikow on a huge 80-yard gainer that ended in pay dirt. Delfosse went to the air immediately following the teedee, completing a pass for the two point addition.
After one half of football, it looked as if this game was going to be a grueling low point battle, but that quickly changed near the start of the second half.
After forcing the Rangers to a three and out, the Wolverines worked there way toward the end zone thanks to a 27 yard run by Leevi Maye-Thomas that brought the Wolverines to the eight yard line of Wausaukee.
Seth Kwiatkowski finished off the five play drive with the two yard goal line buster.
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