Prep football: TR's season comes to an end

Prep football: TR's season comes to an end


Prep football: TR's season comes to an end



Notorious for being a strong first-quarter team during the regular season, the tables turned Friday night on the No. 4-seeded Two Rivers football team, as it allowed host No. 1 West De Pere to score 15 first-quarter points in falling 42-6 in a second round game of the WIAA Division 3 State Football Tournament.

Two Rivers (8-2), which advanced last week with a 22-19 home win over Menasha after a 46-yard game-winning field goal by Justin Schmeichel, never got to within three of West De Pere (10-0) after the Phantoms’ scored on their first possession of the game.

The Raiders’ defense was able to stop the Phantoms’ running game for the most part early on, but on their first possession West De Pere ran a fake punt for 34 yards. The gimmick play set up the Phantoms’ first score on a short rushing play that made it 8-0 with just three minutes gone by in the first.

After its second three-and-out, Two Rivers allowed a nine-yard touchdown run to make it 15-0, where it stood at the end of the first quarter.

While the Raiders’ defense managed to shut down the pass, Two Rivers’ pass-dominated offense never found its rhythm, going three-and-out on its first four possessions and each time giving West De Pere a starting spot around midfield.

“Basically when we went spread with five wide (receivers) they brought the house and we had a hard time picking up those blitzes,” Two Rivers head coach Brent Luebke said of West De Pere’s defense. “Some of the blitzes were guys just being untouched. We tried to roll out but what happened was we were struggling running the ball too and we had some dropped passes.”

The Raiders entered West De Pere territory for the first time after a Phantoms’ fumble with 10:56 left in the second and then picked up their first and only first down of the half at the 10-minute mark.

On the same possession, Two Rivers quarterback Brett Kasper had a pass deflect off of receiver Dexter Smith’s hands for an interception, stopping any momentum the Raiders offense had built.

West De Pere’s ensuing drive was a 17-play, 92-yard drive which lasted 8:49, ending on a one-yard touchdown run by Zach Rothering, his third of the half, to make it 22-0 at the break.

In the first half the Raiders collected 23 passing yards and 13 rushing yards while not forcing West De Pere to punt in the half. Rothering finished the game with 220 yards on 43 carries.

“I think where we lacked was, our offense wasn’t clicking, so our defense was on the field for so long and the defense could only do so much before they tired out,” Luebke said. “They just found our weaknesses. If a couple of plays went a different way we could have advanced ourselves offensively and score-wise. But it just came down to those plays. (West De Pere) is a quality opponent and the type of program we want to be like.”

Entering the game West De Pere had not surrendered a single point in the third quarter all season, but after Two Rivers’ Jason President blocked a punt, the Raiders scored on a one-yard run by Smith to make it 22-6 with 8:56 left in the third. The Phantoms, who allowed an average of six points per game in the regular season, answered five minutes later though to put a halt to Two Rivers’ comeback bid, this time on a 17-yard touchdown pass to make it 29-6, where it remained entering the final frame.

With one minute gone by in the final quarter, Smith fumbled a punt which led to a West De Pere 27-yard touchdown run to make it 35-6.

Even with the game out of reach the Two Rivers offense still could not get the passing game going. Kasper finished with 130 yards of passing by going 13-of-13 while also throwing three interceptions.

While what was one of the best seasons in school history may be over, Luebke expressed optimism for the years ahead for the Raiders. He said getting to this point in the postseason was something that will truly help his program down the line.

“(The seniors) will always be a part of our football family. It is going to hurt now, but they will look at the film and see it was just a matter of a couple of plays,” Luebke said. “The leadership they had made the underclassmen realize what they need to do to get to this level and that’s huge for our program. The seniors dedicated themselves and now with this we hopefully can build our sidelines up to look like (West De Pere’s) did.”

Complete stats for this game were not provided to the Herald Times Reporter as of press deadline.


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