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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Upends Peshtigo 12-6 In Double Overtime To Sew Up Share Of M-O Title

Talk about a shocker!

Heading into the M-O title showdown as big underdogs, the Suring Eagles pulled off a huge upset with a 12-6 double overtime win over the visiting Peshtigo Bulldogs Friday night.

Both teams came into the gridiron battle with perfect readouts, but when the final gun sounded the Eagles soared to the top perch in the M-O standings and wrapped up a share of the league title. Sitting at 7-0 overall and 6-0 in league play, Suring can earn outright honors with a Friday night home win against Lena-STAA.

“This was the biggest win in my coaching career,” said Mitch Taylor, who is in his 14th year at Suring. “It was a great effort by our kids and one heck of a game. Our kids never gave up and it all starts with our seniors, particularly Jay Tienor, Blake Strehlow, Cody Christensen and Sam Schaal. Blake really showed his leadership skills out there and never let us quit.”

While Suring enjoys the first place nesting, the battered Bulldogs fell to 5-1 in the M-O and need outside help from the Titans for a share of league honors.

Will that happen? Probably not. The Eagles have too much to play for in seeking their first football championship since 2005.

“This was a very tough loss. Give Suring credit, they did what was needed to be successful. We’ll bounce back,” Peshtigo coach Sam Komp said. “We played well and moved the ball up and down the field, but didn’t score. We had opportunities in the fourth quarter to put the game away.”

Both teams moved the ball between the 20’s, but struggled for points. Peshtigo mustered up 324 yards of offense over 67 plays and Suring 225 on 63.

Suring had 11 possessions in regulation play resulting in 6 punts, two drives ending on downs, turnover, halftime clock and the touchdown with 0:48 remaining.

The Bulldogs had plenty of scoring opportunities, but weren’t able to capitalize. Peshtigo also had the ball 11 times in the game leading to a pair of punts, four turnovers while running out of downs at the Suring 17, 30 and 40 yard lines in the first half and at the Eagle 1 and 3 yard lines in the second half.

Peshtigo tallied 264 yards rushing, highlighted by 123 yards on 19 carries from junior fullback Mike Vojcihoski, 9-74 by Levi Sanborn and 9-48 from Derrik Maye.

The hard hitting gridiron battle took a toll on the Bulldogs as coach Komp’s stable of backs lost a trio of runners. Maye, the number two rusher in the league, left in the second quarter with a concussion, Sanborn battled leg cramps for most of the second half and didn’t play in the final period or overtimes, while linebacker/fullback Gunner Kinney suffered a fourth quarter knee injury.

Operating out of the spread offense, Suring put the ball into the hands of athletic senior quarterback Jay Tienor. And this signal caller didn’t disappoint his teammates. Tienor rushed for 58 yards on 11 carries and connected on 15 of 34 passes for 140 yards, touchdown and two interceptions. Dillon Kempen needed 10 carries to pick up 25 yards while Strehlow added 4 yards over 6 carries.

When the game was on the line, Tienor and Strehlow made their presence known. Tienor flipped a fourth down, 4 yard touchdown pass to Dan Sweda with 0:48 remaining while Strehlow scored the game winner from one yard out in the second overtime.

Early on, the Bulldogs threatened with an 11 play/ 49 yard drive that took 4 minutes off the clock. Unfortunately Peshtigo never made it to the end zone, running out of downs at the Suring 17.

Getting the ball back after a punt, the Bulldogs headed goalward on drive number two. The 5 play march covered 60 yards with Vojcihoski scoring from 9 yards out. Along the way Sanborn tore off 23 yards on first down then added a 14 yard jaunt to the 9. “Vojo” took it from there scoring with 4:43 left in period one. The extra point kick never got off the ground because of a fumble.

The bobble would prove costly at the end.

Following another Suring punt, Peshtigo started at its own 2 and drove all the way to the Suring 20. Again the Eagles turned back a potential Bulldog scoring march when Tyler Fisher sacked Bulldog quarterback Dakota Keller for a 10 yard loss on third down. Fourth down wasn’t any better for Peshtigo as Keller saw a pass to Dakota Marino fall incomplete.

Interceptions by Peshtigo’s Marcus Sharkey and Creo VanBellinger of Suring closed out the first half with the Bulldogs clinging to a 6-0 spread.

The defenses continued to dominate as Suring took the second half kickoff and moved from its own 36 to the Bulldog 42 before punting.

Starting at its own 9, Peshtigo saw “Vojo” muscle his way to the 20 before sophomore back Steven Strojny fumbled on the second play with Cody Christensen recovering at the 15.

Four plays lost 11 yards as a Strehlow went 6 yards backwards after catching a tipped pass on first down followed by penalties for illegal motion and personal foul. Passes to Christensen on third down and Kempen on fourth missed the mark.

With the clock ticking down to the 3:14 mark of period three, the Bulldogs took over near midfield.

This is starting to sound like a broken record as Peshtigo threatened again, but couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone. Four straight runs by “Vojo” moved the ball to the Suring 27, while a scramble by Keller and penalty on the Eagles gave Peshtigo a first down at the 9.

It looked like sure points. Reserve quarterback Jake Jagielski was sent into the game after Keller lost his helmet on the previous play (rule), but lost a yard on first down. Jake Veness picked up 7 yards on a sweep to the 3 before the ball went back to Vojcihoski, who was stopped for no gain. That brought up fourth down and Komp called for a pass, only to see Keller get sacked on the roll out.

Following punts by both teams, Suring began a fourth quarter drive at the Peshtigo 39. Tienor hit Kempen for 16 yards, added a 4 yard flip to Christensen before scrambling to the 28 for a first down with 3:53 left. Facing a third down from the 24, Tienor hooked up with the 5’8, 135 pound Sweda for an 11 yard pickup to the 13. The duo clicked again to the 5 before a pair of incompletions thwarted the march. A fourth down pass to the end zone was batted down by Bulldog linebacker Mike Gable with 2:06 remaining.

The defensive stop put Peshtigo in great position to win the game.

Getting the ball back at their own 5 yard line, the Bulldogs had one goal...get a first down and run out the clock. It never happened.

After “Vojo” picked up one yard on first down, Veness fumbled the ball at his own 6 with Suring’s Sam Schaal recovering.

“Our defense came up with some huge stands throughout, and at the end we needed to get the ball out of the shadow of our goal post. We couldn’t do it,” Komp said.

Despite being held scoreless for 47:06, the Eagles took advantage of the fumble and tied things up with 48 seconds left to force overtime.

It wasn’t easy!

Strehlow was held to no gain on first down, Tienor picked up two yards on second before Kempen ran into a stonewall on third.

Down to the final play, the Suring top coaching staff called a timeout with 54 seconds left. The plan was to give Tienor the ball and let him create. It worked to perfection. Finding plenty of time against the three-man Bulldog rush, Tienor roamed the pocket before tossing a 4 yard scoring pass to Sweda in the back of the end zone.

With the score knotted at 6-all, Suring had a chance to win in regulation with the conversion kick. Strehlow shanked his boot to the right, sending the game into overtime.

Suring got the ball first at the 25, but gave it right back as Veness atoned for the late miscue with an interception of a pass intended for Kempen.

Peshtigo didn’t do any better. After a motion penalty on first down, Keller saw a third down pass to Marino get picked off by Tienor, who returned it 50 yards before getting run out of bounds.

Heading to a second extra session, the Bulldogs had the first possession and struggled. “Vojo” gained two yards on first down before Keller fired three straight incompletions.

It was Suring’s turn and they capitalized. Tienor displayed his athletic abilities with 4 straight runs to move the ball to the 2. Kempen gained a yard on first down before Strehlow ran left and slid into the end zone for the game winner.

“Our plan in the second overtime was to spread Peshtigo out and kick a field goal if we had to,” Taylor remarked. “Peshtigo’s defense was solid the whole game, but our kids stepped up and made the plays at the end. Over the years we have had a lot of battles with Peshtigo, they are well coached and have a mystique about them.”

From the Peshtigo sideline, coach Komp... “Tienor made some great plays down the stretch, especially that fourth down touchdown pass. We had him under duress and running, but he still threw the pass. That is why he is one of the better players in the conference.”

Suring will entertain Lena-STAA Friday in a potential conference title-clinching clash while the Bulldogs will host Gillett (1-6) in their conference finale.

“Lena-STAA always plays us tough. We are coming off a big emotional win and need to be focused for them,” Taylor concluded.


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