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Bulldogs Begin With A Win

Keller, Defense

Play Key Roles




Going up against a quality first game opponent, the Peshtigo Bulldogs successfully opened the 2013 football season Friday night with a 34-18 victory over visiting Kiel. Picked as the pre-season favorite to claim the M-O Conference football title, Peshtigo rode a balanced offensive attack, directed by senior quarterback Dakota Keller, along with a “bend but don’t break” defense to the hard-earned gridiron win.

The Peshtigo offense totaled 369 yards, 202 on the ground, highlighted by 252 combined yards from Keller. All the senior signal caller did was rush for 85 yards on 14 carries while completing 10 of 19 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite yielding 315 yards, the defense came to the rescue in the final minutes, turning back a late Kiel drive which resulted in a game-clinching 60 yard interception return for points by sophomore safety Jake Romenesko.

“I couldn’t be more pleased,” Komp said. “It was a great first game test for our kids and we couldn’t have played a better team to start the year. When all is said and done, I think Kiel is going to be pretty successful. They are probably going to be one of the toughest teams we will play in the regular season. I am really proud of my guys, couldn’t have played any better nor asked for more from them.”

Komp and company were all smiles as the Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead in the second quarter. Peshtigo took the opening kickoff and marched 65 yards in 6 plays. Keller provided plenty of leadership in the march with a 11 yard scamper to the Kiel 39 then hooked up with Romenesko on a 35 yard touchdown toss at the 9:12 mark. Jake Jagielski split the uprights for a 7-0 edge.

The Bulldogs nearly had points on their second possession of the game, running off 18 plays and moving all the way down to the Kiel 23. Unfortunately that is where things went haywire. A holding penalty followed by pass interference on Romenesko backed the Bulldogs up and forced a punt.

Peshtigo’s defense set up the second score as senior lineman Jordan Berth batted a third down pass into the air which was picked off by linebacker Gunner Kinney at his own 35. Ten plays later the Bulldog lead grew to 14-0 as Keller teamed up with Jake Veness from 9 yards out at the 5:21 mark of period two. The Bulldogs nearly saw the drive fizzle before converting a third down and 20 from their own 25. This time Peshtigo saw Keller connect with Levi Sanborn on a 45 yard strike to the Kiel 35. Seven plays later Veness secured a pass from Keller for the score.

Trying to avoid an early blowout, Kiel responded on the ensuing kickoff with a 7 play, 61 yard scoring drive. Quick stepping Aaron Field carried five times for 32 yards, including the final 18 for points (2:48).

Getting the ball to open the second half, Kiel kept the momentum and closed within 14-12 with a 7 play, 63 yard scoring drive. Field again proved tough to corral as the senior running back blasted in from 2 yards out at the 10:09 mark. Field also tried running in the conversion attempt but was stopped short by linebacker Zach Neumann.

Looking to right the ship, Peshtigo marched 61 yards in 7 plays to pad the lead to 20-12. And they stayed in sync thanks to the play of Keller and a big lift from reserve running back Steve Strojny, who replaced banged up starter Trevor Igl. Keller rambled 12 yards on first down into Kiel territory then hit Veness on a 19 yard completion to the 29. Three plays later Strojny blasted over from 4 yards for the touchdown (7:54). The extra point kick was blocked leaving the Bulldogs in front 20-12.

Taking that 8 point spread into the fourth quarter, Peshtigo saw Kiel get within 20-18 following a 51 yard punt return by Field. Tack on a late hit and Kiel had a first down at the Bulldog 13. It took just one play to produce points as Meunier flipped a scoring pass to Tanner Woepse with 11:31 remaining.

The final two touchdowns would be put on Peshtigo’s side of the board. And the defense gets the credit for both scores. Kiel got the ball back with 8:06 left and lost 3 yards on three plays. On fourth down, the Red Raiders tried catching Peshtigo off-guard with a fake punt. Bad move as Berth tackled punter Field at the his own 25.

Two plays later, Strojny bolted 18 yards to the end zone for a 26-18 lead. The all important extra point, which would have put Peshtigo up by two scores, sailed wide left with 5:32 left.

The missed kick gave Kiel one last chance to tie. But two pass interceptions in the final 4:33 doomed the comeback. With the ball at the Peshtigo 4, Veness stepped in front of an errant Meunier pass and raced 41 yards to the Kiel 30. But the Bulldogs couldn’t capitalize and saw a fumble by Strojny get recovered at the 15 with 3:01 remaining.

Sitting 85 yards from the tying score, Kiel moved to its own 35 before a fourth down pass was picked off by Romenesko for a “pick six”. Operating as the centerfielder in the defense, Romenesko raced 60 yards to paydirt scoring with just 42 seconds left. Keller added a conversion pass to Neumann for that 34-18 finale.

“We could have cashed it in a few times, being hot and exhausted, but the team was resilient. We were able to answer some of their scores when we had to,” Komp commented. “Strojny came off the bench in the second half and did a tremendous job running the ball. He hasn’t had a lot of practice but had no assignment mistakes. Keller had a big game running and passing the ball...stepped up big time physically. Berth dominated play over the final 7-8 minutes and really pressured their quarterback.”

Peshtigo will host Bonduel in the second non-conference test of the pre-season Thursday night at 7pm. Coached by former Niagara Badger standout, James Westrich, the Bears blasted Crivitz 39-0 in their opening game.


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