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Controversial call dooms Bulldogs



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Jake Sutter threw for 171 yards Friday night.

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Bonamarte (click for larger version)
October 16, 2012 | 05:23 PM
WILLIAMS BAY — After two straight weeks of coming close to victory, the Williams Bay football team could almost taste it Friday night.

Down 18-13 with under a minute to play at home against Cambria-Friesland, the Bay saw its hopes for a victory dashed thanks to a debatable call.

Facing a fourth-and-goal from the Cambria 20, Bay quarterback Jake Sutter lobbed a perfect pass to the right side of the end zone. Senior receiver Roger Gutierrez-Mas dove and made the catch on what seemed to be a game-winning play.

However, the referees ruled Gutierrez-Mas' elbow hit out of bounds first before any other part of his body landed in play. A stunned crowd went silent, and the Cambria players celebrated an 18-13 victory.

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The Bay finished the regular season 0-8. The Bulldogs will host a nonconference game Friday night against Kenosha Christian Life (5-3).

As for the decisive play, Williams Bay coach Derek Diehl said it looked like a catch on film.

"The officials were a good crew, but it showed on film that Roger caught it inbounds," he said. "But it's how it happens. It was a tough, judgment call. I don't believe we earned the victory. We didn't do enough to win it."

Diehl said the play made for an emotional roller coaster, and his players were emotional the next morning watching the film.

While the game seemed to come down to one play, the Bay had plenty of opportunities thwarted in what may have been their most dominant performance of the season.

Twice in the first half, the Bulldogs lost fumbles inside Cambria's 5-yard line. Also, the Bay had trouble hanging onto the ball, resulting in six turnovers for the game.

"We had them beat," Diehl said. "They really only had one big play, and we gave them good field position."

The Bulldogs came out of the gates like world-beaters, scoring on their first possession. Sutter hit Ryan Bonamarte on a 24-yard wheel route to open the scoring at 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

Then, late in the second quarter, Cambria came back with a 5-yard touchdown run, but the Bay still led 7-6 at the half.

In the second quarter, Sutter connected with Gutierrez-Mas on a 40-yard pass into double coverage, putting the Bay at the Cambria 3-yard line.

However, Sutter fumbled on a handoff exchange and gave the ball back to Cambria.

After a scoreless third quarter, Cambria managed a 58-yard touchdown run with 6:30 left in the game and took a 12-7 lead.

But the Bay bounced right back in roaring fashion. Gutierrez-Mas took the ensuing kickoff, ran right and appeared to be bottled up in a giant scrum.

But the Spanish foreign-exchange student reversed fields to the left and took it to the house, giving the Bay a 13-12 lead with six minutes to go.

"Everyone was going crazy," Diehl said.

However, Cambria drove 65 yards on its next possession. The Hilltoppers had a 25-yard pass and couldn't be stopped on third down, according to Diehl. They took the lead on a seven-yard touchdown scamper by Andrew DeYoung, who scored all three Cambria touchdowns.

But the Bay wasn't done by any means. Gutierrez-Mas returned the ensuing kick to the Bay 45, and the Bulldogs still had a timeout. With a nice mix of runs and passes including two key third-down conversions from Sutter to Michael Guss, the Bay was inside the Cambria 10 with less than a minute to play.

Back-to-back false starts pushed the Bulldogs back to the 20.

After an incomplete pass on third-and-goal from the 20, Sutter hit Gutierrez-Mas on a deep slant fade with perfect timing, but the play was ruled out of bounds.

Sutter was 13-for-30 for the game with 171 yards.

"Jake showed great senior leadership," Diehl said.

"The boys taste that victory is close."

Bonamarte caught four balls for 56 yards and played the entire game with stitches on his finger. With an injured finger, he still found the end zone and had to get new stitches after the game.

"Ryan is Williams Bay football," Diehl said. "The boys are different than in years past."

Diehl said the team suffered from failed opportunities Friday.

Guss finished with four catches for 43 yards, and Gutierrez-Mas had three grabs for 45 yards.

The Bay will go for its first win since 2007 Friday at home. Friday's loss was the team's 44th straight.

Check page 1C for a preview of the Kenosha Christian Life game.

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