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* Undefeated Bulldogs Run Away With Conference Title
* Peshtigo Boys Three-peat; Dominate Running Events
* Peshtigo Boys Win Home Invite; Marinette Girls Finish Second

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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Boivin Powers Marinette To 28-20 Bay Victory Over L-C

Going up against a team whose skill level is closely matched to its own, the Marinette Marines (3-2) knew it was going to need something extra in its game against Luxemburg-Casco last Friday night, one that saw the Marines’ chances for a playoff berth hanging in the balance as both teams entered with .500 records in Bay Conference play.

The Marines got it done in dramatic fashion over all three phases of their game, with the little something extra they needed coming in the way of a tremendous individual performance by Jaden Boivin in a hard-fought 28-20 win over the visiting Spartans.

“The case with Jaden is, when you get in a game that has playoff implications like we had on Friday, he’s played in those kind of games last season and that served us well,” said Marinette head coach Kurt Gundlach. “It was kind of a playoff atmosphere and when it starts to feel like that, players who have been there before tend to play at their best.”

The Spartans set the game’s pace with their opening drive as quarterback Caleb Willems found tight end Brent Kuehl with a nice pass that got L-C into the red zone where they set up shop and chipped away at the Marinette defense until running back Dan Alioto punched it in from the six yard line for a 7-0 advantage.

The Marines caught a break in the form of an L-C penalty on a fourth down play to keep their opening drive alive at midfield. Marinette relied on the legs of Boivin on more than one occasion to keep the chains moving and convert on third down. Boivin would get into the end zone from the three to cap that opening drive but the extra point failed and the Marines found themselves with work to do (7-6).

That work included some attempted trickery as the home team went for the onside kick on its next play. The Marines did a nice job of staying with the ball as it rolled its way down field but the Spartans managed to be the first team to fall on the live ball once it got 10 yards out. No problem as the Marines’ defense forced a fumble once L-C set itself up in the red zone and took over deep in their own territory.

Three games earlier in the season for Marinette, starting a drive pinned back against their own goal line might have proven to be disastrous. On first down from the two-yard line, Marinette quarterback Jake McMahon didn’t panic when he found himself in the end zone and under extreme pressure from a pair of charging L-C defenders. One Spartan was able to get perilously close to wrapping up the Marines’ QB, but he was somehow able to get a pass completed downfield and his team out of hot water.

Both defenses buckled down and refused to allow any changing of the scoreboard’s 7-6 readout until Marinette got the ball midway through the second quarter and put on a display of power running on their way to a second touchdown.

Boivin picked up nine yards with a crafty run before barreling his way down to the Spartan 49 behind some key blocking from the likes of Brett Roehm and Dustin Valind. The Marines kept their foot on the gas and found themselves in a third and goal situation from two yards out where Boivin punched it in for six. The two point conversion was successful thanks to a nice play that saw McMahon get a pass to Austin Biehl to put Marinette up 14-7 with just over three minutes to play in the half.

“Jake’s got a pretty calm presence about him despite having to deal with a lot from me,” said Gundlach of his quarterback’s effort on Friday. “He’s grasping the offense and what we want to get done a lot better now. I think we all are and it showed in that game as we bounced back after falling behind early. Jake’s got a leadership role in that huddle. He saved us a few times with his athleticism on Friday.”

The third quarter opened with a three and out for Marinette followed by a hot start to the ensuing L-C drive, which managed to convert on third and one. It looked like the Marines were going to dodge a bullet as they picked up a stop on third down with L-C sitting at the one-yard line. The Spartans went for it on fourth down and Ethan Peters scored to tie things up at 14.

The Marines needed a profound response on their following drive and profound is what they got as Boivin set the pace with some blistering runs to soften up the defense.

Later in the march, a very clever play saw McMahon use a bit of misdirection to get the defense to focus on Vanidestine at the line of scrimmage while the ball went to Boivin, who hit the corner unchallenged and went all the way to the end zone for the go-ahead score.

The Spartans were absolutely stumped on their ensuing drive as the Marinette defense tightened up and Vanidestine started to make plays on the other side of the ball to go along with his recent success on offense.

After a couple of defensive stands of their own, L-C managed to put together a scoring drive to keep things interesting. On third and eight from the Marinette 15, the Spartans ran into a suffocating pass defense. A pass to the end zone on a fourth down play saw the flags come out and a defensive holding penalty called on Marinette, setting up fourth and 2 from the eight yard line. L-C got the Marines to jump offsides for a fresh set of downs and picked up the touchdown moments later.

A heads up play from Marinette’s special teams unit factored in next as Quentin Ellie got his hand on the extra point kick to keep L-C down 21-20.

Back to work for the Marinette offense with Boivin once again rushing for first downs and keeping the clock running. The senior tailback, who finished the game with 192 yards on 24 attempts, converted on third and 10 from the 30 yard line of L-C to keep the drive alive and then broke loose on second and 12 from the 20 on a long scoring jaunt to push the Marines’ lead to 28-20.

Boivin wasn’t finished yet. On the ensuing L-C drive, with the visiting team moving down the field, Boivin took to the air in front of a Willems pass and came down with the ball to cap things off with a game ending interception.

“It’s a credit to our team as a whole,” Gundlach stated. “We’re all starting to see our roles individually and how they impact each part of the game and seeing how important being on top of all three phases of the game is. Plays like the onside kick. We were close on that, it’s a play we know we can get. We’re getting closer to being able to make those kind of plays work for us. Our kids are starting to feel like they’re going to get those plays now.”


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