As the leading passer in the Olympian/Packerland-Large Conference, Nate Abrahamson made a strange request to his coach on Friday.
“I’ve got the leading passer coming to me and saying we need to run,” Sturgeon Bay coach Greg Freiherr said.
The Clippers (4-1) certainly did that, rushing for 386 yards to upend Kewaunee 31-28 and become playoff eligible.
Abrahamson didn’t attempt a pass in the second half, as Sturgeon Bay totaled 331 yards over the final two quarters.
With the Clippers leading 7-6 at the half, the teams combined for six touchdowns in the third quarter, which ended with the score tied at 28-28.
A LaMarco Crawford 38-yard touchdown pass to Steven Kinjerski on a fake punt on the Storm’s opening series of the third quarter sparked the offensive flurry, where Sturgeon Bay would respond a few plays after on every ensuing drive following Kewaunee scores.
“It’s frustrating,” said Kewaunee coach Kurt Flaten, whose team’s run of 12 straight playoff appearances is in jeopardy at 1-4. “You think you’re making progress with a good series on offense and you give it right back.”
The scoring exchange ended in the fourth quarter when the Clippers’ defense recorded the first stop of the second half. Their offense then drove inside the Kewaunee 20 and set up Casey Giesseman for what turned out to be the game-winning field goal with 7 minutes remaining.
“We started running inside veer and that set up our option,” Freiherr said. “We also knew if we came out really quick on the dives that we’d be able to come through that hole because we took away the blast part of it, which is the lead blocker.”
Junior Blucher (226 yards) and Lucas Stephenson (163 yards) did most of the damage on the ground, as each rushed for two touchdowns, including scoring scampers of 78 and 70 yards, respectively, on the Clippers’ first two drives of the second half.
Kewaunee, meanwhile, was led by the passing of Caleb Johnson, who completed 12 of 23 passes for 238 yards and two TDs with one interception.
Not only is Sturgeon Bay in position to make back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in program history, but its hopes of winning a share of its first conference title since 1993 were also helped on Friday with Wrightstown’s win over previously unbeaten Brillion.
The Tigers’ victory leaves Chilton as the only unbeaten left in the OP-Large. However, a Chilton loss could lead to a four-way tie atop the league.
K: Logan Kassner 48 pass from Caleb Johnson (Kick failed)
SB: Lucas Stephenson 1 run (Casey Giesseman kick)
K: Steven Kinjerski 38 pass from LaMarco Crawford (2-point conversion pass good)
SB: Junior Blucher 78 run (Giesseman kick)
K: Logan Brusky 23 pass from Johnson (2-point failed)
SB: Stephenson 70 run (Giesseman kick)
K: Austin Richard 8 run (2-point run good)
SB: Blucher 30 yard run (Giesseman kick)
SB: Giesseman 36 field goal.
Passing — Kewaunee, Caleb Johnson 12-23-1-238. Sturgeon Bay, Nathan Abrahamson 3-9-1-41.