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Bulldogs fall to Panthers in defensive battle

BOYCEVILLE —  In a football contest dominated by defenses, the outcome hinged on a pair of two-conversion attempts.

While Boyceville came up a yard short on its attempt, Dunn-St. Croix newcomer Durand struck pay dirt with under two minutes to play to give the Panthers a stunning two-point, 8 to 6 road victory over the previously unbeaten and unscored upon Bulldogs here last Friday on Evenson Field.

With points at a premium, it appeared that Boyceville’s touchdown in the waning seconds of the third quarter, that broke a scoreless deadlock, might be enough to keep both the Bulldogs’ winning and shut out streaks alive despite their missed two-point attempt.

But it wasn’t.

Durand converted on a third and goal from the Boyceville eight-yard line to knot the game with just one minute and 18 seconds remaining. The Panthers then put the ball and their hopes in the hands of senior running back Travis Bauer who carried them across the goal line for the two-point conversion and the eventual victory much to the chagrin of the partisan Boyceville Homecoming crowd.

“Our Defense played another solid game,” said Brian Roemhild, Boyceville head coach. “We had trouble getting our offense going, but had plenty of opportunities that we did not take advantage of.”

Twice in the first quarter Boyceville moved inside Durand territory only to see the possessions end with sacks on fourth down.

The Bulldogs collected four Panther turnovers – three interceptions and a fumble – but converted just one into points.

“We have to score when we are in the red zone,” stated Roemhild. “Give Durand credit, they made the big play when they had to!”

Yardage let alone scoring opportunities were hard to come by throughout the game. Both teams finished with similar offensive totals. Durand finished with 136 – 61 passing and 75 yards rushing – compared to 128 for Boyceville, 108 of which came on the ground.

The Panthers took the game’s opening kick, earning a first down before punting the ball back to Boyceville.

The Bulldogs off a nice 31-yard punt return by Hunter Anderson, began at the Durand 47. But after gaining just four yards in three offensive plays, Boyceville rolled the dice and went for it on fourth and five. Anderson was sacked for a 12-yard loss and Durand took over at the ‘Dogs 45.

Three plays later, Anderson snared a long pass from the Panthers’ receiver and returned it 36 yards to the Durand 44.

A first-down run of nine yards by Micah Johnson had the Bulldogs in motion. A Panthers’ offside gave the locals a fresh set of downs at the 30. Jordan Morse and Sam Hellmann picked up four and three yards respectively on consecutive runs but Hunter Lipke lost four on a third down. Hunter Anderson was again sacked for a loss on fourth down, giving the Panthers the ball back on downs their own 34.

Durand put together a nice drive that consumed the remainder of the first quarter and several minutes to open the second stanza.

Panthers’ back Travis Bauer swept around the left end and ripped off a 24 yard run down to the Bulldogs 16 to start the second. Durand, however, was flagged for a block in the back on the play which erased the run and brought the ball back to the BV 42. The Panthers converted a fourth down on a 10-yard Bauer run to the 23. But three straight Panther penalties – a hold and a pair of illegal motion infractions – eventually put Durand in a fourth and 30 situation forcing a punt.

Boyceville punted the ball after six plays.

Durand moved the ball near the midfield stripe after a 15-yard pass interference call against the Bulldogs but two plays later fumbled the ball with the ‘Dogs Hunter Lipke recovering at the Boyceville 46.

Two incompletions and another sack forced Boyceville into yet another punt as Durand ran twice to end the first half in a scoreless deadlock.

Boyceville took the second half kick and garnered a pair of first downs before Hunter Anderson fumbled as he was being sacked. Jacob Zeilinger of Durand recovered at the Bulldogs’ 34.

Durand was forced to kick after just three plays. The snap, however, flew several feet over the head of the punter and sometimes quarterback William Berger. He chased down the loose pigskin but his attempt was picked off by the Bulldogs’ Bryce Boda at the Panthers’ 43.

Jordan Morse took three of Boyceville’s next four snaps and produced nice gains with the final one of the trio going for 21 yards and a first-and-goal at the Durand ten. Hellmann picked up a yard on first down followed by a two-yard Morse run. An offside on the Bulldogs put them back five yards to make it third and 12. Micah Johnson ran a counter for 8 yards to the Durand four. After a fourth-down timeout by Roemhild at 3:11of the third, Hellmann took the hand-off and plowed ahead only to be stop a yard short of the goal line.

The Panthers took over at the one.

Three running plays took Durand to the 11 but on first down, Berger’s pass attempt tipped off the hands of intended receiver Isaac Annis and found its way into the waiting arms of Bryce Boda at the 21, who returned his second interception of the contest to the six yard line.

Hellmann carried for three on first down and Lipke gained one to set up Hunter Anderson for a two-yard quarterback keeper that broke the stalemate with 34 ticks left on the third-quarter scoreboard. The Bulldogs opted to go for two and handed the ball off to Sam Hellmann who was tackled short of the end zone once again leaving the Dogs with a tenuous 6-0 advantage.

Jake Lake ended the third with a six yard tackle for a loss.

Durand, however, managed to earn a first down to start the final quarter of regulation. The drive would end in the Panthers’ third punt of the game.

Boyceville started at its own 21 but had to punt after gaining just six yards in three plays.

Hunter Anderson’s 34 yard punt was taken by the Panthers’ Travis Bauer and returned 39 yards down to the Boyceville 23.

Time for another defensive stand.

Durand aided the Boyceville cause as it was flagged for motion and had a pass fall incomplete. But platoon quarterback Ben weber connected with back Logan Polzer for an eight-yard gain on second and 15. Third and fourth down pass attempts by Durand went incomplete only to have the latter draw a pass interference call on the Bulldogs which gave the Panthers a fresh set of downs as well as a first-and-goal at the nine.

A first-down pass missed its mark, Kater Kurth gained three on second down but another illegal motion penalty on the Panthers pushed the ball back to the 11. Weber was sacked for a one-yard loss on third down and then threw incomplete on a fourth and 12 from the 12.

With 4:25 left on the game clock, Boyceville took control deep inside its territory. But a pair of two-yard runs by Hellmann and Morse followed by an Anderson incompletion and it was punting time for the Bulldogs.

Durand took the ball at the Boyceville 42 after the exchange of possession.

With William Berger back under center, he found Polzer open out of the back field for a 20-yard pass and catch to the ‘Dogs 22, prompting Roemhild to call for time at 3:14. Bauer then ran the Panthers to a first-and-goal at the eight with back-to-back carries for seven and eight yards.

A false start pushed the Panthers back five yards. A first-down pass went uncaught after which Bauer got back the previous penalty yardage. On third and goal from the eight, Berger took the snap and lofted a high floating pass to the left corner of the end zone where a wide open Bret Schlosser hauled in his only catch of the game for the touchdown with 1:18 left on the clock. Durand put the ball in the capable hands and legs of Travis Bauer on the all-important conversion try and he sweep around the right side of the Bulldog defense to convert the run and give the Panthers an 8 to 6 lead – its first of the game.

Boyceville gave a valiant final attempt to wrestle victory from the visitors.

Starting on its own 30, Boyceville engineered a drive that took it to the Durand 32 before a final shot to the end zone fell incomplete. While Anderson scramble for gains of two, ten and 13 yards, he narrowly missed a pass connection to Micah Johnson that would have put the Bulldogs at the Panthers ten.

The loss dropped the Bulldog to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in conference; the same mark as the Panthers.

Jordan Morse led Boyceville’s ground game with 61 yards on 11 tries while Sam Hellmann and Micah Johnson finished with 32 and 20 yards on ten and four carries respectively. Travis Bauer had 17 carries for 58 yards to lead Durand.

Hunter Anderson was 3 of 10 passing for 20 yards. Ben Weber hit five of his ten passes attempts for 33 yards for the Panthers and William Berger was 2 for 5 with 28 yards a TD pass and two picks.

Boyceville will hit the road for the first time in a month this Friday when it travels to play Spring Valley, a conference favorite and one of two remaining unbeatens along with Elk Mound.