Tags: Sports, Top of page
September 29, 2012 | 10:50 AMOAKFIELD - They committed 14 penalties. They lost the turnover battle, three to one. And they allowed nearly 200 yards to the opposing team's running back.
But late in the fourth quarter Friday night, thanks to a furious comeback, the visiting Williams Bay football team still had a chance to pull off its first win since 2007.
Down 28-7 with five minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs scored 14 points in less than two minutes. After recovering an onside kick with three minutes to play, the Bay had a chance to tie the game, but an interception and subsequent Oakfield first down provided the dagger in a 28-21 Bulldogs defeat.
The Bay dropped to 0-6 overall and 0-5 in the Trailways Small Conference. Oakfield, which plays on a field that consists of two baseball outfields and part of a dirt infield, earned its first win of the season (1-5). It was the Oaks' homecoming game. The Bay fell for the 41st straight time.
On paper, this was supposed to be the Bay's best chance for a victory so far this season. Previously winless Oakfield was getting blown out week after week.
But it's hard to beat any opponent when you beat yourself. And that's exactly what the Bay did Friday, as crucial penalties proved to be drive-killers. The Bay's 14 yellow flags accounted for 84 yards, including a botched punt snap and a fourth-down offsides call that both led to Oakfield touchdowns.
"Tonight was a game of mistakes," Bay coach Derek Diehl said. "There were two drives where we gave them 60 yards on penalties. From the very first series, we had a D-tackle jump offsides three times in a row. It's inexcusable."
The Bay trailed, 13-7, at the half. But to open the third quarter, a crucial offsides, pass interference and unsportsmanlike conduct helped the Oaks embark on a seven-minute, 75-yard back-breaking drive. On fourth and goal from the 10, the Oaks threw a touchdown pass and converted a two-point conversion to take a 21-7 lead. On the previous play, the Bay stuffed Oakfield running back Taylor Schaefer for a one-yard loss.
After the teams exchanged interceptions, Bay quarterback Jake Sutter hooked up with Ryan Bonamarte for a 50-yard pass midway through the third quarter, but it was called back due to holding. Eventually, the Bulldogs had to punt three times on fourth and 20 from their own 1-yard line as a result of false start penalties.
On the ensuing possession, thanks to field position deep inside Bay territory, the Oaks needed three plays for Schaefer to break a 12-yard touchdown run. The Oaks took a seemingly insurmountable lead, 28-7.
However, Sutter and the Bay passing attack weren't about to lay down.
The Bay kept throwing and throwing (the Bulldogs had 39 rushing yards), and things eventually opened up downfield.
After an Oakfield three and out, Sutter hit Bonamarte for 36 yards with six minutes left in the game. On fourth and 22, after a penalty and a dropped pass, Sutter fired a deep slant to receiver Roger Gutierrez-Mas, who snatched the ball, broke a tackle and scampered into the end zone for a 40-yard score. The two-point pass failed, making it 28-13 at the 4:51 mark.
The Bay defense stepped up again and stuffed three runs before Sutter was back to his gunslinging.
With 2:58 left, Sutter lobbed a deep bomb down the left sideline for freshman Michael Guss, who caught the ball in stride and sprinted for six to cut the lead to 28-19 with 2:58 to play. Sutter hit Gutierrez-Mas on a slant for the two-point conversion.
Then, the Bulldogs caught a break. On an onside kick, Oakfield fumbled the ball and Williams Bay recovered.
The stage was set for Sutter, but on the first play, he was intercepted on a deep flag route, a play which had been open all game. The dejected Bulldogs hung their heads in disbelief after such a valiant rally. Oakfield gained one more first down to wrap up the victory.
"We all started yelling at each other that one big play was all we needed," Sutter said. "Roger and Guss came through. The line really picked it up at the end and gave me some time to throw the ball. They (Oakfield) knew that final play was coming. I put that on me. It was a bad decision."
Sutter said the Bulldogs believed they were going to win all week.
"All week, we were so excited," he said. "But the penalties were the reason we lost."
Sutter finished with 225 yards passing, a season high. Gutierrez-Mas had two touchdowns and 114 yards receiving on four catches. The senior foreign-exchange student from Spain is playing football for the first time. This was his first varsity game at wide receiver.
"I wanted to try something new," Gutierrez-Mas said of football. "I like running as a wide receiver. We have a good quarterback, and he has a good arm. That helps. I try to play 100 percent. We're not going to give up."
The Bay outgained the Oaks, 264-218. But Schaefer torched the Bay on the ground, rushing for 185 yards on 36 carries with three touchdowns.
Diehl said his team started slowly Friday night.
"We haven't been up very much," he said. "They're used to this. If any team is built to come back in the fourth quarter, it's us. Frankly, we were a little disappointed. We are bigger than them up front, yet we struggled with execution. There was no reason we shouldn't be able to run the football."
Bay sophomore John Higgins left the game in the second quarter after re-injuring his knee. Higgins remained in the game on defense. Diehl said Higgins may miss the next two games. Higgins, who is the team's long snapper along with running back and linebacker, was sorely missed on special teams. The Bay's backup long snapper sailed two balls over the punter's head, one of which was recovered by Oakfield and led to a touchdown.
The Bulldogs return home Friday for their homecoming game against Hustisford (3-3, 2-3). Diehl said the penalties will be tough to overcome.
"It's difficult," Diehl said. "We don't have a ton of experience. We don't have feeder programs up until this year. Even some of the seniors don't have the poise to execute at times. We're basically rebuilding. Tonight was encouraging. We played a team of our caliber, and it came down to the last drive. We're looking forward to progressing slowly. It's not going to happen overnight."
Other Friday area football scores
Badger 34, Elkhorn 7
Big Foot 65, Clinton 22
McFarland 47, Whitewater 7
Brodhead-Juda 51, Palmyra-Eagle 14
Parkview 49, Beloit Turner 8
East Troy 31, Edgerton 21
Burlington 31, Wilmot 18
Waterford 48, Union Grove 7
Westosha Central 25, Delavan-Darien 14
Racine St. Cat's 27, Burlington Catholic Central 21