By Cara L. Dempski
BOYCEVILLE — The Bulldog football team started the season with the hope of making it into the playoffs this year.
While they missed their chance to qualify, Boyceville’s gridiron gang did put together a couple victories this season. The team was 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the Dunn-St. Croix heading into the October 13 road trip to Mondovi.
Jordan Anderson’s Bulldogs fell to a 2-7 overall finish, and went 1-5 in the D-SC for a third straight year after losing to the Buffaloes 52-26 last Friday to cap Boyceville’s 2017 gridiron campaign.
While the Bulldogs will miss the WIAA playoffs for the third year in a row, the Buffaloes’ victory earned them a berth in the Division 5 playoff field. Mondovi picked up the number-seven seed in the playoffs and will face second-seeded Elk Mound, who beat Spring Valley 24-20 last Friday night for the D-SC conference crown, for a second time this season this coming Friday, October 20 in Elk Mound.
The Bulldogs did edge out the Buffaloes in passing, with Bryce Boda and Conner Sempf combining for 21 completions and 324 yards and three touchdowns to Brennan Christopherson’s 20 completions for 280 yards and three scores.
But the Buffaloes racked up had huge advantage on the ground. Mondovi tallied five more scores and 335 yards rushing while the Bulldogs finished with just a net of six yards running the football.
The discrepancy in the ground game gave Mondovi a big edge in the final stats as it 615 total yards to Boyceville’s 330.
The Buffaloes got on the board first when they converted their first offensive series into six points at the 7:08 mark of the first quarter on a two-yard Ben Larson run. A good kick made it 7-0.
Mondovi would score again a little over four minutes later when Christopherson fired a third-and-15 pass to Carter Johnson for the 17-yard score to cap the 11-play, 58 yard drive. Raith Bauer sent a kick through the uprights to give the Buffs a 14-0 lead with 2:59 left in the first.
Christopherson then connected with Kadin Todd late in the second quarter for his second touchdown pass, but Bauer’s point-after kick failed, leaving the Buffaloes ahead 20-0 with 4:22 to play until the half.
A scant 90 seconds later, Boyceville quarterback Bryce Boda targeted Cooper Boesl for a 37-yard pass play to strike gold in the end zone and put the Bulldogs on the board with six. The score was set up by a 36-yard pass completion from Boda to Luke Knudtson two plays earlier. A pass attempt for the two-point conversion fell incomplete, leaving the scoreboard at 20-6 with 2:50 to go before the half.
Taking the ball at midfield following the second-half kick off, Mondovi extended its lead to 26-6 on Christopherson’s one-yard quarterback keeper. Bauer’s kick was blocked, and the Bulldogs trailed by 20 with 8:16 to play in the third.
Boda connected on his second touchdown toss, this time with Jayson Gonzales for the two-yard score to cut Boyceville’s deficit to 26-12 after the point-after pass attempt again fell incomplete with 4:44 left in the third.
The Bulldogs moved within striking distance just three and a half minutes later when Boda ran the ball in from six yards out for the TD to cap a 12-play, 79-yard drive. Boda, however, could not connect on the point-after pass, which once again left Boyceville trailing 26-18 with 1:14 left in the third.
But with 36 ticks left in the third quarter, Johnson then extended Mondovi’s lead back to 14 points on a two-yard carry that made the score 32-18 after the point-after attempt failed.
The Bulldogs gained a first down as the third quarter expired but were forced to punt four plays later.
Starting a drive near midfield, Mondovi scored on a Bryce Johnson 33-yd. run at 8:53 in the fourth quarter, making the score 38-18 in the Buffaloes’ favor after the PAT kick failed.
But Boyceville responded quickly with another six points on a 36-yard pass completion from Boda to Luke Knudtson. The duo combined a second time moments later for the two-point conversion, making the score 38-26 with 7:50 to play.
But the Buffs closed the door on a Bulldogs comeback and capped their win with another pair of scores. Tanner Marsh’s 25-yard TD run and Dustin Dziekan’s 15-yard scoring reception from Christopherson made it 50-26 with 4:07 to play. Owen Schultz caught Christopherson’s conversion throw for the contest’s final two points for a 52-26 Buffaloes’ win.
Senior Cooper Boesl led the Bulldogs in receiving at Mondovi, picking up 123 yards and a touchdown for his night’s work. Classmate Luke Knudtson finished with 110 yards receiving and a score. Brendan Sempf, who caught three passes for 54 yards, was the team’s leading rusher with 19 yards on a trio of carries in the game. Boda led the passing yards with 259 over 14 completions for the night.
MONDOVI 52, BOYCEVILLE 26
Boyceville………………….0 6 12 8 — 26
Mondovi………………….14 6 12 20 — 52
M — B. Larson 2-yd. run (R. Bauer kick), 7:08; M — C. Johnson 17-yd. pass from B. Christopherson (R. Bauer kick), 2:59.
M — K. Todd 26-yd. pass from B. Christopherson (kick fails), 4:22; B — C. Boesl 37-yd. pass from B. Boda (conversion fails), 2:50.
M — B. Christopherson 1-yd. run (kick blocked), 8:16; B — J. Gonzales 2-yd. pass from B. Boda (conversion fails), 4:44; B — B. Boda 6-yd. run (conversion fails), 1:14; M — C. Johnson 2-yd. run (conversion fails), :06.
M — B. Johnson 33-yd. run (kick blocked), 8:53; B — L. Knudtson 36-yd. pass from B. Boda (L. Knudtson pass from B. Boda), 7:37; M — T. Marsh 25-yd. run (conversion fails), 5:38; M — D. Dziekan 15-yd. pass from B. Christopherson (O. Schultz pass from B. Christopherson, 4:07.
Passing (att-comp-yds-int): B (50-21-324-3) — B. Boda 36-14-259-2, C. Sempf 7-1-69-1; M (33-20-280-1) — B. Christopherson 33-20-280-1.
Rushing (att-yds): B (20-6) — B. Sempf 3-19, B. Boda 10-16, J. Malean 3-2, C. Sempf 2-(-15), Unk 2-(-16); M (48-335) — B. Johnson 15-127, C. Johnson 12-105, T. Marsh 7-49, B. Christopherson 6-48, L. Uschan 2-5, D. Dziekan 2-4, D. Fedie 1-2, B. Larson 1-2, Unk 2-(-7).
Receiving (rec-yds): B (21-328) — C. Boesl 6-123, L. Knudtson 4-110, B. Sempf 3-54, J. Gonzales 3-15, J. Malean 3-11, B. Boda 2-11; M (32-280) — D. Fedie 6-89, C. Johnson 3-68, K. Todd 4-61, D. Dziekan 2-21, B. Johnson 3-20, Unk 1-9.