ASHWAUBENON — Ashwaubenon senior Will Toonen was the smallest player on the field Friday.
But the 5-foot-8, 150-pound receiver made the biggest play of the game.
Toonen came open in the back of the end zone and caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Will Ark with 37.9 seconds remaining to propel the Jaguars to a 15-10 victory over Bay Port in a Fox River Classic Conference game at Goelz Field.
“He’s the smallest guy I’ve ever coached,” Ashwaubenon coach Mark Jonas said of Toonen, who had four catches for 42 yards. “But I haven’t had one with a bigger heart.
“Coach Westerman from Bay Port said before the game if I had 50 of those kids I’d take them and I’d win. It doesn’t matter how big you are. He proves that.”
After sustaining seven-point losses to Green Bay Notre Dame and De Pere the last two weeks, the Jaguars (3-2, 3-2) proved they are still a force to be reckoned with in the FRCC.
Ashwaubenon not only held the Pirates (4-1, 4-1) to a season low in points, but ended their 15-game winning streak during the regular season. The Jaguars also handed Bay Port its last regular-season loss at Goelz Field in 2013.
“Hats off to Ashwaubenon,” said Bay Port coach Gary Westerman, whose team totaled 309 yards, including 200 rushing yards. “They played a great football game, and we have to score more points. We moved the ball all over in the first half. We got down inside the 10 twice and came away with nothing. We have to finish drives.”
Bay Port moved to the Ashwaubenon 30 at the end of the game. But with 1.2 seconds remaining, senior Logan White couldn’t come down with a Quinn Pierner pass to the end zone.
Bay Port took a 10-7 lead with 7:22 remaining on a 1-yard TD sneak by Pierner.
Ashwaubenon then committed the first turnover of the game on the ensuing drive on a high shotgun snap that Ark couldn’t corral during a first-and-10 from the Bay Port 14 with 4 minutes, 31 seconds remaining.
After the ensuing Pirates’ drive stalled, Pierner got off a 62-yard punt to pin the Jaguars’ back to their 11 with 1:54 remaining and no timeouts left.
A 39-yard pass from Ark to senior running back Josiah Santana set up Ashwaubenon for first-and-goal from the Bay Port 7 with 57 seconds remaining.
That’s when things got interesting.
The next play Bay Port junior linebacker Jake Stelzer intercepted Ark. However, the officials ruled Stelzer had interfered with the intended receiver, junior David Clark, on the play.
Ark then rushed in for a score from a yard out on the next play, which was called back due to an illegal on Ashwaubenon.
The two flags prior to the final score were a fitting end to a game that featured 22 enforced penalties for 192 yards. Bay Port was called for 14 penalties for 114 yards.
“I think a couple of the pass interference ones were a little touchy on both sides,” Jonas said. “But they called it consistent. The kids just persevered.”
Ashwaubenon had negative eight yards rushing at the half. That quickly changed when Santana ripped off a 73-yard run on the Jaguars’ first play in the second half to take a 7-3 lead.
Jonas, whose team totaled 222 yards, felt being able to run the ball in the second half helped open up the passing game for the dramatic drive at the end, which was culminated when Ark had to look off his initial read to the right and scramble to his left before finding Toonen for the game-winning touchdown.
“We worked on that (scramble) drill,” Ark said. “That’s my favorite drill. I’m just looking for someone in green. His jersey is not as small as you think it would be.”
— email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @andrewpekarek.
Bay Port…3 0 0 7 — 10
Ashwaubenon…0 0 7 8 — 15
BP: Josh Jennerjohn 23 field goal.
ASH: Josiah Santana 73 run (Ryan Hanson kick)
BP: Quinn Pierner 1 run (Jennerjohn kick)
ASH: Will Toonen 8 pass from Will Ark (Ark to David Clark pass good)
Rushing — BP, Quinn Pierner, 22-123; ASH: Josiah Santana, 15-125.
Passing — BP: Pierner, 6-14-0-44; ASH: Will Ark, 13-26-0-158.
Receiving — BP: Logan White, 2-34; ASH: Santana, 6-61..