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Beavers Sports

Beavers Come Up Short in Loss to Sauk Prairie

Posted Wednesday, September 07, 2011 by Brady Ambrose

FOOTBALL: Beavers come up short in loss to Sauk Prairie


buy this photo Junior quarterback Luke Bjorklund (9) rushed for 126 yards and two touchdowns Friday night at Sauk Prairie.

  • Bjorklund rushes for 126
  • Defense plays well
  • Aaron Lopp

 

PRAIRIE DU SAC - The Reedsburg football team started strong Friday night, led by the play of quarterback Luke Bjorklund.

But the host Sauk Prairie Eagles saved their best for last, rallying from a one-point halftime deficit to beat the Beavers, 27-21, in the Badger North Conference opener for both teams.

The loss dropped Reedsburg to 1-2 overall and 0-1 in the Badger North. Sauk Prairie is 1-2 and 1-0.

Bjorklund broke loose for a pair of impressive touchdown runs in the first half, scoring from 63 and 49 yards out to help the Beavers take a 14-13 halftime lead. Bjorklund also passed for 83 yards and a second-half touchdown.

But Sauk Prairie quarterback Jared Schaaf and running back Clayton Bohler each rushed for 104 yards and one touchdown apiece.

Schaaf's 8-yard run with 5 minutes 27 seconds left in the third quarter proved to be the difference. Sauk added another late score.

The Beavers' defense held its own for the third time this season, especially in the early going. On Sauk's first three drives of the game, Reedsburg forced a three-and-out and grabbed a pair of interceptions.

"The defense got off to the fast start we've been looking for," Reedsburg coach Brian Pottinger said.

But the Beavers' offense couldn't produce any points from those turnovers, and Sauk Prairie made a big special-teams play to take a 7-0 lead. Drew Marx returned a blocked Reedsburg punt 30 yards with 2:35 left in the first quarter.

Reedsburg answered quickly, though, as Bjorklund broke loose and raced to the end zone from 63 yards out to tie the game, 7-7.

The Eagles answered with a solid drive, started when Bohler returned Reedsburg's kickoff to the Beavers' 37-yard line. Three plays later, Sauk was at the Reedsburg 20. Schaaf picked up eight yards to the 12, and two plays later, Bohler scored from three yards out.

The Beavers got a break when the defense blocked the extra point attempt, and the Eagles led, 13-7, with 9:08 left in the first half.

Reedsburg got some great field position on the kickoff, as Colton Brott picked up a short kick and rumbled all the way to midfield. Two plays later, Bjorklund broke free on a busted pass play, scrambling to his left and sprinting down the sideline for a 49-yard score that made it 14-13.

The Eagles put together another good drive to end the first half, but came up short as the Beavers' defense held. Starting at its own 38, Sauk moved to the Reedsburg 15 in seven plays, with Schaaf hitting Dan Brennan with a 19-yard completion for a first down at the 15. After a penalty, Schaaf hit Brennan with a 12-yard pass to the Reedsburg 8. On third and three, linebacker Matt Olson tackled Schaaf for no gain, and on fourth and eight the defense forced Schaaf to throw an incomplete pass with 2:03 left in the half.

Twice in the first half, Reedsburg receiver Ben Turner had gotten behind the Sauk secondary, but both times the pass was just a bit off.

The Reedsburg offense stalled on the first series of the second half, and Sauk took a punt at its 25. Schaaf ran to the 40, and two plays later, Bohler broke loose for a 34-yard run to the Reedsburg 22. On third and two at the 14, Bohler picked up a first down at the 10; two plays later, Schaaf scored from nine yards out to put Sauk up, 20-14, at the 5:27 mark.

Sauk tried another line-drive kick that Brott picked up and returned to the Reedsburg 43. On first down, Bjorklund hooked up with Turner for a 20-yard completion to the Sauk 23. The drive stalled on a one-yard loss, an incomplete pass and a sack at the Sauk 28 with 3:33 left in the quarter.

The Eagles moved to the Beavers' 45 as the third quarter ended, and two plays into the fourth, Schaaf raced to the Reedsburg 30. Two plays after that, Schaaf hit Bohler with a 20 yard completion to the 10. Schaaf picked up six yards to the 4, then scored two plays later to put the Eagles up, 27-14, with 9 minutes to play.

Once again Brott took a line-drive kickoff and returned it to the Reedsburg 44. On second and seven, Bjorklund dropped back and hit Kyle Mundth with a completion to the Sauk 46. On the next play, Bjorklund teamed up with Turner for an 11-yard completion to the 35. Two plays after that, Bjorklund hit Austin Westerwelle with a completion to the Sauk 22.

On the next play, Turner ran a slant over the middle, Bjorklund hit him with a perfect pass and Turner rolled into the end zone for the score, cutting the lead to 27-21 with 6:34 left in the game.

Pottinger said that the offense spotted some things that Sauk was doing defensively that would allow the Beavers to open up the passing game.

"They were using their secondary to cover the option pitch, so that opened up the play-action pass," said Pottinger. "We didn't connect on first two, and those were the opportunities we didn't take advantage of."

The Reedsburg defense then needed a final stand. Starting at its own 20, the Eagles moved to midfield in just five plays. Bohler picked up a first down to the Reedsburg 44, but the Eagles were called for their second delay of game of the night, and Caleb Senzig and Nick Christensen tackled Schaaf for a 2-yard loss. On second and 17, the defense tackled Bohler for no gain. Schaaf fumbled on the next play, forcing the Eagles to punt on fourth and 18.

The Beavers took over at their own 25 with 2:04 to play. But the offense sputtered and the Sauk defense - namely, sophomore Bailey Breunig - came up with a huge stand.

Bjorklund threw an incomplete pass on first down, and on second down, he was sacked by Breunig and Taylor Huisman for a 5-yard loss.

On third and 15, Breunig again roared in untouched and sacked Bjorklund. On fourth and 20 with 1:05 to play, Breunig and Travis Henn sacked Bjorklund at the 11. Schaaf then took a knee on two consecutive plays to run out the clock.

Pottinger said the lack of a running game - other than Bjorklund's big runs - hurt the team's chances.

"We didn't get our running game going at all, because if you take away Luke's scramble on the pass play, we had maybe 50 total rushing yards," Pottinger said. "We have to be able take what the defense is giving us and we didn't do that."

Weston Ernstmeyer totaled 13 yards on nine carries and Colin Scanlon had 3 yards on two carries.

"I don't believe there is such a thing as a good loss, but there were some good things that happened," Pottinger said. "We were perfect on our extra points, and Bjorklund had some really nice plays at quarterback and is getting better every week."

On defense, Brott had13 assists, an interception and a tackle for loss. Senzig was credited with 11 assists, one tackle for loss and a quarterback sack. Also, Seth Douglas and Nate Runde had two solo tackles each.

"Our defense really played a gutsy game, and despite giving up some yards they didn't give a lot of points," Pottinger said.

"Sauk had almost a 2:1 edge in offensive plays, and that means they were on the field a long time. The good thing is the defense is starting to create some opportunities for us," Pottinger said.

On Friday, Reedsburg plays host to Baraboo in the annual battle for the Old River Jug. The Thunderbirds are coming off a 14-0 victory over Portage, their first victory in more than two years.

"I'm sure they will be sky-high emotionally and will play with a lot of confidence after their win," Pottinger said. "We need to match that intensity and be ready for a battle."

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