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First-quarter misques lead to Bulldogs’ demise

MONDOVI – In the first 96 minutes of football (two games worth) that Boyceville haa played this season, it had not surrendered a single point in recording a pair of shutout wins.

That all changed in Mondovi last Friday night, September 6, when, through a series of turnovers and special teams’ faux pas, the Bulldogs gave up 24 points in the first ten minutes of the contest. It proved to be too big of a hole for Boyceville to dig itself out of as it lost for the first time this season, 32-6 to a strong, veteran Mondovi squad.

 The Buffaloes went 80 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening kick off. Then they turned two of the Bulldogs’ three interceptions into touchdowns as well to establish a 32-0 lead at the intermission.

“Something we had worked on all week,” said Brian Roemhild, Boyceville head coach. “Because in the last three years, the games that have been won or lost between us and Mondovi have come down to special teams and making big plays. And tonight they made the big plays.”

“Mondovi is a good football team and we didn’t take care of the ball,” added Roemhild. “And we definitely did not play one of our better games but we have a lot to work on and we will bounce back from this.”

Boyceville was able to reestablish its game in the second half as it held Mondovi scoreless. But the Bulldogs had trouble finding the endzone themselves. Boyceville’s lone score came inside the final two minutes of play on a Logan McAbee-Thomas 6-yard run.

“We talked about we have to win the second half and keep playing hard,” noted Roemhild. “We shored things up and kept it simple and did what we do best. We took care of the ball in the second half.”

The tone of the game and especially the first half would be set on the opening kick. The Buffs’ TJ McLean took Jake Lake’s boot and returned it 80 yards for six with just 12 seconds elapsed in the game. Dustin Nelson ran in the conversion to give the home team an 8-0 lead.

After a brief three and out foray by the Boyceville offense, Mondovi would again be on the offensive march. The Buffs took advantage of excellent field position at its own 43-yard line and drove 57 yards in five plays for another touchdown. Quarterback Zach Ganschow used his legs to carry the Buffaloes to the score as he carried the ball on five of the six plays for 39 yards, nine, 14 and the final 1-yard burst for the TD. Brett Vetterkind added the run for two points and Mondovi was on top 16-0 at the 8:13 mark of the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Boyceville’s offensive unit could not get on track. All eight of the Bulldogs’ first-half possessions ended in frustration as they had four three and outs, threw three interceptions (two of which ended in Mondovi scores), and a fumble.

The Bulldogs most promising offensive opportunity came after it intercepted the Buffaloes near midfield late in the first quarter. Tyler Draeger picked up Boyceville’s first, first down with a hard ten-yard run down to the Mondovi 43. Logan McAbee-Thomas followed with a four-yard gain before the Bulldogs came back to Draeger for runs of one and two yards. Faced with a four and three at the Mondovi 36, Boyceville went to the air. Unfortunately, Hunter Anderson’s aerial was picked by Dustin Nelson and returned 70 yards to pay dirt at 2:13. Nelson’s second touchdown of the night pushed the lead to 22-0 which became 24-0 after Vetterkind’s run after the score.

On the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession from its own 25, Draeger would again give then a boost on first down with a 13-yard carry. Devonta Anderson took the next run for eight yards. A holding on second and short sent Boyceville back 10 yards. Hunter Anderson gained four yards and Isaac Wold took a reverse for eight and the first down. Draeger and McAbee-Thomas had back-to-back two-yard gains to end the first quarter of play. But on third down, Hunter Anderson was intercepted again. This time Erich Wolf came away with the pick and returned it 40 yards to the Boyceville 21.

Mondovi had incompletions sandwiched around a Brett Vetterkind seven-yard run that left it with a fourth down. The Buffaloes went for the first down and got it as Ganschow connected with TJ McLean for 14 yards and a first and goal at the one. Vetterkind punched the ball into the end zone on the next play and with two-point pass completion from Ganschow to McLean, Mondovi had pushed its advantage to 32-0 with 9:44 left in the second.

The score would stay unchanged until intermission. A pair of three and outs and a fumble by Boyceville were offset by two Mondovi fumbles, both recovered by the Bulldogs’ Justin Schultz, and a punt.

Boyceville regrouped and took the second half kick off to its own 40. A nice 11-yard gain by Tyler Draeger put the Bulldogs’ in Mondovi territory. Runs of four and three by McAbee-Thomas and a one-yard gain from Draeger left Boyceville a few yards short of a first down. McAbee-Thomas’ was hit for a two-yard loss on the fourth down try and Boyceville turned the ball over on downs.

Mondovi would drive inside the Bulldogs’ 30 before coughing up the pigskin once again. This time Devonta Anderson came up with the recover for the Bulldogs at the 29.

The Bulldogs could do nothing with the turnover and had to punt after three plays. The teams would exchange punts as the game went into the final quarter.

Mondovi moved into Boyceville territory but a fumble on fourth down gave Boyceville the ball at it own 40-yard line with less than four minutes to play.

The Bulldogs’ final drive would net its only points.

Brady Schutts hit Jacob McIntyre for a 17-yard pass completion to jump start the drive. Draeger had runs of seven, eight, and five yards on the drive and McAbee-Thomas turned in gains of ten, five, and a six-yard dash for the touchdown with 1:50 left. McAbee-Thomas’ third-down score capped a nine-play, 60 yard drive. The conversion run by McAbee-Thomas fell short to leave the final score at 32-6.

Tyler Draeger led the Boyceville offensive with 53 yards and Logan McAbee-Thomas finished with 50 yards, both on 14 carries apiece to account for 103 of the Bulldogs’ 111 rushing yards. Boyceville finished with 135 yards total as quarterback tandem of Brady Schutts and Hunter Anderson combined for just 24 yards. Hunter had three interceptions.

Mondovi had 153 of its 176 yards on the ground. Brett Vetterkind had 51 yards and Zach Ganschow 49 on 11 and eight carries respectively.

“But hopefully our guys will feed off this (second-half performance),” stated Roemhild. “We had some things last year where we got blown out and we came back from it. So, we will see what happens next.”

The next is a non-conference contest in Rosholt this Saturday afternoon. The Hornets, 1-2, picked up their first win of the year with a 46-13 victory over Sheboygan Lutheran last week. Rosholt is a member of the Central Wisconsin Conference is located a southeast of Stevens Point.

“Rosholt made it to level 3 (playoffs) last year against Edgar so we expect a good game when we go there. That is why we have them on our schedule so we could play them,” said Roemhild.

Game time is set for 2 p.m.