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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Felch Rambles For 292 Yards

Sparked by a big second half charge on both sides of the ball, the Peshtigo Bulldogs ended M-O Conference play with a 48-26 win over host Gillett Friday night.

The Bulldogs (4-5, 4-3) had their backs to the wall and needed to win just to qualify for the playoffs. It didn’t look good at halftime with Gillett holding a 20-19 lead before Peshtigo regrouped and won going away.

“I’m happy especially for our senior kids that they made the playoffs. If you are going to challenge for or win a conference championship, usually you have to have a strong senior class. I have some seniors who are strong players, we just don’t have enough of them. We only have 6 or 7 seniors and that is not quite enough to be where we want to be in the conference,” coach Sam Komp said. “We have improved throughout the season and probably a low spot for us was the back to back Wausaukee and Northern Elite losses. We have learned with each game and have improved, but consistency still is a concern for us. I think we are definitely getting better.”

One player improving with every game for the Bulldogs is junior fullback Jesse Felch, who rambled for a season-high 292 yards on 27 carries. Felch made his way to the end zone three times on runs of 18, 24 and 2 yards.

The big outing by Felch enabled the Bulldogs to gain 380 total yards, including 366 via the rushing attack. Derrick Maye added 120 yards on 6 rushes with 61 of those yards coming on a second quarter scoring jaunt.

“It wasn’t just Jesse as Derrick Maye had 120 yards. Our ground game was really working and it was nice to see because it was windy and we didn’t want to pass. The ground game really worked and that is a credit to our offensive line...probably as well as they blocked all year,” Komp remarked.

Going to the air only five times, quarterback Dakota Keller completed one pass for 14 yards to Alex Yoap for a touchdown.

Senior end and return man, Joey Sparks supplied plenty of special teams momentum with a 77 yard kickoff return to give Peshtigo a 12-7 lead with 1:01 remaining in the first quarter.

“Our problem in the first half was we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. We snapped a ball over the punters head and they got it down at the 2 yard lin. We also ran a punt back to their 33 yard line and fumbled the ball. We did a lot of things we are going to have to really clean up this week in practice if we expect to do anything in the playoffs,” Komp added.

“In the second half and especially in the fourth quarter, we found a couple of things that they had difficulty defending. They shot themselves in the foot and gave us the ball on a couple of turnovers and we were able to come out on top.”

Gillett did most of its damage in the first half, taking advantage of those Peshtigo miscues and racing to that 20-19 lead. Owning the lead on 4 different occasions, the Tigers (3-6, 2-5) totaled 196 yards, 59 rushing on 38 attempts while quarterback Ben Rehn completed 6 of 11 passes for 137 yards.

The Bulldogs took a 6-0 lead with 3:32 left in period one as Yoap hauled in a 14 yard scoring strike from Keller.

Gillett answered on the ensuing kickoff as Kyle Ladwig grabbed a screen pass from Rehn and raced 81 yards to the end zone (1:19). Juri Lenoch booted the first of 2 extra point kicks for a 7-6 edge.

The lead stayed on Gillett’s side of the scoreboard for just 18 seconds, long enough for Sparks to return the kickoff 77 yards for a score. The conversion run failed as Peshtigo regained the upper hand 12-7 at the 1:01 mark.

Ladwig tallied his second score on a 2 yard run in period two to put Gillett back in front 13-12 (8:42).

Once again, Peshtigo answered quickly as Maye broke free on a 61 yard dash to the end zone. Jake Jagielski tacked on the PAT for a 19-13 lead (8:19).

Taking advantage of the clock, Gillett went up 20-19 with only 25 seconds left in the half when Rehn snuck over from a yard out and Lenoch added the kick.

Following the halftime break, the Tigers stayed in the scoring mode and padded the lead to 26-19 (3:19) when Logan Christensen caught a 4 yard pass from Rehn.

After that Gillett score, it was all Peshtigo by a 29-0 edge. The Bulldogs got even on the board in the third frame when Felch busted loose on a 18 yard scamper. Jagielski split the uprights for a 26-26 deadlock with 2:29 left.

Using a spread offense in the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs tallied three scores over a span of 4:33 to win going away. Felch raced in from 24 yards out (10:45), Keller one yard (7:15) and Felch two yards (6:12). The final two Peshtigo points came with 55 seconds left when Yoap tackled Brad Mueller in the end zone for a safety.

“I thought we played very well for 3 quarters...came down to our inability to stop their fullback in the fourth quarter,” Gillett coach Rick Kamps said. “Thought our kids played hard, in particular our seniors who have given us all they have for the past 4 years. Ben Rehn had his best game throwing the ball with the one exception in the fourth quarter of the interception and return. Verhagen was solid as always on both sides of the ball. As a group we are disappointed where we finished, but will work hard again this off-season to improve next year.”


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