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BOYCEVILLE — Opportunistic play coupled with a hard-hitting run game and a tenacious defense have proved to be a winning formula for the Boyceville football squad so far this season.
And last Friday evening’s home contest at Evenson Field against conference newcomer Clear Lake was no different.
The Bulldogs took advantage of three Warrior turnovers – including a botched punt snap late in the first half, which Boyceville turned into a touchdown with just seconds left on the clock to take a lead it would not relinquish – and then its ground attack preserved a 27-20 victory in the October 23 Dunn-St. Croix football battle.
The win was the Bulldogs’ third straight and boosted their record to 4-1.
Despite being slightly out-gained by the Warriors’ unit (230 to 219), it was the Bulldogs’ offense and in particular their rushing attack that made the difference, especially in the final stanza.
Like it had been a week earlier when it converted six fourth-down attempts against rival Glenwood City, Boyceville proved nearly unstoppable on fourth downs.
In fact, three of the Bulldogs’ four touchdowns last Friday night came on fourth-down plays. And when it needed one at the end of the game to run out the clock and salt away the win, Boyceville converted that one, too!
“Being able to convert our 4th downs, especially in the 4th quarter was huge for us,” said Boyceville head coach Michael Roemhild.
Junior quarterback Ira Bialzik completed just two of his seven pass attempts for 47, but both fourth-down attempts went for touchdowns, including a 23-yard toss to freshman receiver Braden Roemhild with just three seconds left in the opening half of play to give the Bulldogs a 13-12 halftime advantage.
“Ira was only 2-7, but those two completions were his biggest of the year,” stated Coach Michael Roemhild.
That score in the waning seconds of the second quarter had been set up by a botched punt snap.
With the ball at midfield and just 30 seconds remaining in the half, Clear Lake punter Riley Peterson mishandled a low snap and was forced to run. But, a pack of Dogs chased after him and brought him down at the Warriors’ 32, where Boyceville took over.
After tossing an incompletion, Bialzik ran for a nine-yard gain to set up a third and one prompting Roemhild to call for a timeout with 16 ticks left. Another Bialzik pass fell incomplete. But on fourth down, Braden Roemhild got behind his defender and hauled in the 23-yard pass from Bialzik for the TD with just three seconds left. Although the two-point conversion failed, Boyceville lead 13-12 at the half, a lead they never surrendered.
“With about 30 seconds left in the half, we were able to get pressure on their punter and tackle him for a huge loss, which put us in scoring position,” noted Roemhild. “They (Warriors) were playing a prevent defense which made it hard for us to go deep, but with 7 seconds left in the half Ira was able to connect with Braden for a touchdown.”
“I’m still not sure how he caught it, but it was a huge swing in momentum for us,” Roemhild added. “Instead of going into half down five, we went in with the lead. All the guys were fired up after Braden made his biggest catch of the year.”
That momentum carried the Bulldogs into the second half, where they quickly added to their lead, taking the second-half kick off and marching 60 yards in just four plays and 1:54 before hitting pay dirt on a 23-yard run by Sebastian Nielson at 9:59. That score was set up by a nice 33-yard scamper from Nathan Stuart on the previous play. Jacob Granley’s PAT missed the mark but Boyceville now had a bit of breathing room at 19-12.
It wouldn’t be long before the Bulldogs were back on the offensive.
After taking the kick-off, Clear Lake fumbled the ball on its first play from scrimmage with Tyler Dormanen recovering the loose ball at the Warriors’ 43.
Boyceville used its run game to move to the 24, where the drive stalled and the Bulldogs were faced with a fourth and four. Without hesitation, the Bulldogs went for it and were rewarded. Bialzik found a wide open Tyler Dormanen who then took it to the end zone to complete the 24-yard scoring play with 6:24 to play in the third. Dormanen also ran in the two-point conversion for a 27-12 lead.
After moving inside the Bulldogs’ 40, Clear Lake again fumbled and Boyceville recovered but was unable to get a first down and punted.
Clear Lake would then mount its longest and most time-consuming drive of the evening, taking 20 plays and nearly 11 minute to find the end zone.
Beginning at its own 20 with 2:08 left in the third quarter, Clear Lake ran the ball 17 times before Angel Guillen threw a six-yard pass to Riley Peterson for the touchdown. Guillen then tossed the conversion pass to Dominic Leintz to cut the Bulldogs’ lead to 27-20 with 3:10 to play.
Clear Lake attempted an onside kick but Nick Olson pounced on the ball at the Dogs’ 46.
Faced with a fourth down and one just 28 seconds later, Boyceville went for it and got it as Bash Nielson picked up six yards and a fresh set of downs. That allowed the Bulldogs to run out the clock for the seven-point victory.
Clear Lake had the lead early in the contest. The Warriors received the game’s opening kick-off and went 60 yards in ten plays, aided by three Boyceville penalties, to grab a 6-0 lead on Jackson Fuller’s 4-yard run at the 6:19 mark. A two-point conversion attempt was no good.
It would remain that way until midway through the second quarter when a two-yard Bash Nielson run on fourth down knotted the game at six all with 6:17 left in the first half. Jacob Granley kicked the PAT for the 7-6 Bulldog lead.
Clear Lake took the lead back on its next possession. Jackson Fuller ripped off a run of 47 yards to take the Warriors to the Boyceville 17. Four plays later, Fuller ran six yards for the score at 3:03. Angel Guillen run for the 2-point conversion was stopped but Clear Lake was back in front 12-7.
That set the stage for the Bulldogs’ last-second theatrics that gave them a halftime advantage and the game momentum for a second half push to victory.
Offensively, Boyceville gained 172 of its 219 yards on the ground. Sebastian Nielson led the way with 58 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries. Fellow backfield mates Tyler Dormanen and Nathan Stuart finished with 53 and 45 yards respectively on nine and six hauls.
Dormanen and Braden Roemhild each had one catch for 24 and 23 yards respectively for scores.
Clear Lake garnered 212 of its 230 yards with its rushing game highlighted by Jackson Fuller’s 75 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Dominic Leintz added 59 on 11 carries, Brady Pigman tallied 49 yards on his nine hauls and Angel Guillen finished with 11 carries for 30 yards.
The Bulldogs travel to Cadott this Friday evening, October 30. Coach Roemhild said his players had this date circled on their calendars after the Hornets’ unsportsmanlike play in last year’s contest.