Although Colfax and Boyceville had both clinched a playoff berth before the Bulldogs invaded the Lee P. Bjurquist Athletic Complex Oct. 17, there was still plenty at stake including a higher seed and the possibility of a home game to start the playoffs.
Not to mention these guys have been playing against each other since seventh grade which means there was a lot of pride involved. After beating Boyceville in the final game last season to get into the playoffs, this time the Bulldogs used a couple of big plays and a stifling defense that kept the Vikings out of the end zone for a 14-0 win. Colfax ended the regular season at 6-2 (4-2 conference play) and is the smallest team in Division 5, but will host Chequamegon this Friday night at 7:00. Boyceville plays in Division 6 and will have a home game against Marathon, also on Friday night.
Colfax took the opening kickoff to their own 30 and after a first down run on third and two by Jeremiah Wait, the offense fizzled and they had to punt. On Boyceville’s first play from scrimmage, Logan Mcabee-Thomas ran for 10 yards but a fumble on the second play was pounced on by Jon Hayton of the Vikings. Wait and Andrew Adix pounded the ball on the ground for a few yards at a time, but after getting into the red zone, they gained just five yards on four plays and gave the ball to the Bulldogs on downs at their own five yard line.
Boyceville moved the ball to midfield but on third and four, Ben Kragness made the stop on the run for a one yard loss to force another punt. Colfax moved it from their own 16 to the Bulldogs’ 27 on runs by Wait, Jarrod Rudi, Adix and Aliymu Davis but Wait, who had been nursing a high ankle sprain, reinjured the ankle and was helped off the field. On fourth and two the Bulldogs defense stiffened yet again and Rudi was stuffed on a sneak to give Boyceville the ball back.The teams traded punts and the half ended at 0-0.
“Boyceville was taking away our off tackle runs which is our bread and butter,” coach Mark Maloney said. “We had a great opportunity to score but couldn’t punch it in. That gave Boyceville some confidence and they continued to make big stops.”
With Wait on the sidelines and a bag of ice wrapped on his foot, the Vikings not only lost their leading rusher but a top defensive back. Boyceville started with the ball to open the second half and after two runs by Mcabee-Thomas, quarterback Hunter Anderson took advantage of a mix up in the secondary and found an open Mitch Leach for a 46 yard scoring strike. The kick was missed but in what had become a defensive battle Boyceville was up 6-0 with 10:38 left in the quarter.
Tucker Teige took the short kick to the Vikings 41 but on fourth and two from midfield, coach Maloney took a gamble and had Adix run to try and get the first down. But Boyceville smelled it out and made another stop to get the ball back. After a holding call on the Bulldogs, Alexander completed a 31 yard pass to Tyler Draeger to the Vikings 16 and Mcabee-Thomas zipped up the middle to the one yard line. Anderson plowed in for the score, and on a fake extra point kick, Anderson found another opening in the Colfax secondary and passed to Jacob McIntyre for the two point conversion and a 14-0 lead at the 7:14 mark of the quarter.
Colfax had plenty of time to get back into the game, including on their next drive when Davis, now taking the bulk of the running duties, broke off a 34 yard run, then dove for another first down to the Bulldogs 24 yard line on fourth down. But two incomplete passes and a five yard run by Rudi made it fourth and five, and this time Davis was stuffed at the Bulldog 15, giving the ball back to the Bulldogs. Colfax stiffened their defense with Trevor Olson sacking Anderson for a five yard loss on third down forcing a punt to end the third quarter.
Colfax moved from their own 45 in part by a nine yard pass to Jacob Klukas, a facemask penalty on the Bulldogs, a 10 yard run by Adix and a nine yard sliding catch by Jacob Steinke to get to the Boyceville 16. Another short completion to Sawyer DeMoe moved it to the nine but on fourth down, Rudi’s pass was picked off in the end zone by Anderson who elected to take it out and raced 80 yards down the sideline before Davis chased him down at the Vikings’ 20. The Bulldogs could have put the dagger in with 7:00 to go but on third down, the ball was centered over Anderson’s head and DeMoe chased him down for a 28 yard loss to force a punt. After Davis picked up a first down on the ground, Colfax went to the air and Boyceville had their defensive secondary covering the Colfax receivers pretty tight, resulting in a few incomplete passes and the end of the game.
“We had a couple of breakdowns on defense and Boyceville took advantage of it,” Maloney said. “Otherwise our defense was pretty solid. With Wait going out, Davis stepped up and did a nice job. We just didn’t make any big plays on offense but credit Boyceville’s defense for not breaking. We’ll work on a few things to get ready for the playoff game on Friday,” he added.
Despite rushing for only 71 yards, Wait ended the game as the conference’s leading rusher with 1,123 yards with an average of of 140 per game in just eight games. Davis ran for 63 yards while Adix added 49. Rudi was 6 for 24 passing for 76 yards with DeMoe catching two for 19 yards and Steinke snaring a pair for 17 yards. Hayton collected six tackles, Adix added four and Zach Meyer and DeMoe were both credited with three.