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Beavers Sports

Beavers Fight to a Fantastic Finish

Posted Thursday, October 20, 2011 by Brady Ambrose

FOOTBALL: Beavers fight to a fantastic finish


buy this photo The Reedsburg sidelines reacts after Aaron Lopp scored a touchdown on a 55 yard run to give the Beavers the lead with 6:33 to play Friday night.

Luke Bjorklund and Aaron Lopp scored on long runs Friday night to help the Reedsburg Beavers secure a much-needed victory in their season finale at Millennium Field.

Bjorklund scored on a 31-yard run and Lopp added a 55-yard run that proved to be the game-winner as the Beavers edged the Portage Warriors, 21-13, to avoid finishing in the Badger North Conference cellar.

Reedsburg finished with a 1-5 conference record and 2-7 overall mark. Portage went 0-6 and 0-9.

The victory provided a boost to an otherwise disappointing, oh-so-close season for Reedsburg, which lost to Sauk Prairie, Baraboo and Milton by a combined margin of 13 points.

"Mentally, it's a whole lot easier going into the offseason on a high note, no matter what your record is," Reedsburg coach Brian Pottinger said.

Portage, which has won just two games (both over Baraboo) over the last three seasons, grabbed a quick lead over the Beavers Friday, scoring on its opening possession.

Starting at their 43, the Warriors quickly moved into Reedsburg territory as Daniel Beck gained eight yards on first down. Four plays later, Portage was at the Reedsburg 27.

Portage quarterback Michael Jordahl then hit Travis Hamilton with a 14-yard completion to the 13. On second and six, Rob Schlimovitz picked up a first down at the Reedsburg 2, and Beck scored on the next play to put Portage up, 6-0, with 7 minutes 42 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Beavers started their opening drive from the 29, and Luke Bjorklund picked up nine yards on first down - and a flag for unnecessary roughness on Portage, one of nine penalties the Warriors committed in the game, gave Reedsburg a first down at the Portage 47.

Colin Scanlon gained seven yards to the 40. On the next play Bjorklund ran for 31 yards to the Portage 9 - and another flag on Portage moved the ball to the 5.

But on the first play from scrimmage, Bjorklund's pitch to Austin Westerwelle was fumbled, and Portage's Jonathon Nolan recovered at the 9, ending the Reedsburg drive.

The Warriors moved to the 20, and Nolan gained another 13 yards to the 33. But the Beavers' defense held, and on a fourth-and-two play, Caleb Senzig stopped Nolan for no gain and the Beavers took over at the Portage 41.

Bjorklund picked up a first down at the Portage 31 on the first play of the second quarter. Scanlon gained three yards, and after an incomplete pass to Ben Turner, Westerwelle gained eight yards for a first down at the Portage 20.

Westerwelle picked up a first down and more to the Portage 7, and an offside call on the Warriors moved the ball to the 3. Westerwelle scored on the next play. But the extra point was no good, leaving the score tied, 6-6, with 7:56 left in the first half.

The Warriors then mounted a 15-play drive that covered 65 yards, taking a 13-6 lead when Nolan scored from 3 yards out.

"The kids came in (at halftime) celebrating like we'd won the Super Bowl," Portage coach Sean Stout said. "When you have a little bit of success, it's hard for kids to understand how to handle that success sometimes."

Pottinger said his staff talked to the players at halftime.

"We asked the players, especially the seniors, to think about what kind of feeling they wanted to have as they walked off the field after the game. Even though we were trailing, they knew the game was right there for us to take. It was just a matter of going out and finishing the job."

The Beavers then turned that talk into action, scoring on their opening drive of the second half.

Starting at their 32, the Beavers moved into Portage territory when Wyatt Ernstmeyer gained 19 yards to the Warrior 43. On the next play Ernstmeyer gained nine more yards to the 34, and Weston Ernstmeyer picked up seven yards to the Portage 27.

Two plays later, Bjorklund broke loose in front of the Beavers' bench and raced 31 yards for a touchdown. The extra point tied the game, 13-13, with 8:32 left in the third quarter.

"The score to open the second half was critical because it gave us momentum right away," Pottinger said. "We finally started to play with some emotion."

Still, the Warriors got back in business on their next possession. Beck motored 42 yards to the Beavers' 26. On the next play, a holding penalty negated a big gain, pushing the Warriors back to the 26.

From there, the Reedsburg defense rose to the challenge, forcing Portage into an incomplete pass on a fourth-and-10 play.

"Defense played well in the second half, much like it did at times throughout the season," Pottinger said. "We were able to make plays at critical times, such as fourth downs and especially on the last drive."

The Beavers took over at their own 35 and managed only five yards in three plays before setting up to punt. But Reedsburg's Caleb Arneson had the snap bounce past him, and Arneson was dropped all the way back at the Reedsburg 18-yard line.

But Portage fumbled on its third play of the drive and Reedsburg's Seth Douglas pounced on the ball at the 15.

Reedsburg drove to the 38 as the third quarter expired, but Bjorklund was tackled for an eight-yard loss on second and 10 and the Beavers eventually punted.

The Warriors took over at their 38 and punted after gaining five yards. That gave Reedsburg possession at its own 20 with 8:42 to play.

The running game got a boost from an unlikely source when starting linebacker Aaron Lopp proved that fellow linebacker Colton Brott wasn't the only defenseman able to run with the ball. He rumbled for 22 yards to the Reedsburg 42. Brott gained three yards to the 45 - and on the next play, Lopp broke loose to score from 55 yards out. Brott ran it in for a two-point conversion to put the Beavers in the lead for good, 21-13, with 6:33 to play.

The Warriors picked up a first down at their 40 when Jordahl hit Beck with a 24 yard completion to the Reedsburg 40. But the drive stalled, and Brott tackled Nolan for no gain on fourth and five with 3:23 to play.

The Beavers took over at the Portage 45. Lopp produced a first down with an eight-yard run to the 35, but holding negated a 17-yard Lopp run on the next play, pushing the ball back to the Portage 45.

Reedsburg lined up for a punt with 1:25 left, but the snap went to Brott instead for a run. The Warriors stopped him for no gain and took over at their own 45 with 1:20 to play.

Portage gained a first down to the Reedsburg 46, and Jordahl hit Ian Taylor with a completion to the 33 with 50 seconds to play.

But Jordahl then threw four straight incomplete passes and the Beavers took over at the 33 with 29 seconds left.

"It just came down to the fact that we followed our trend that we had most of the year - that penalties kicked us in the tail end," Stout said. "We moved the ball, had it inside the 30-yard line twice in the second half. And both times, penalties kicked us out of scoring territory."

The Beavers rushed for 288 yards on 51 carries, a 5.6-yard average, with Lopp rushing for 87 yards and Bjorklund 81. Caleb Senzig was credited with 10 assisted tackles and one solo tackle; Colton Brott had 12 assisted tackles and one solo. Aaron Lopp added 11 assisted and three solo tackles effort to his 87-yard rushing performance.

Even though the season saw Reedsburg suffer three close losses during a six-game losing streak, Pottinger sees some positives heading into next season.

"A lot of younger players got valuable playing experience, we had some success on both sides of the ball at times, and four of our losses were close games in the fourth quarter," Pottinger said. "I believe those things give us a great starting point for next year."

"It's tough - you go 0-9 and you're trying to rebuild a football program," Portage's Stout said. "The No. 1 thing I told the kids was that I'm proud of them. They didn't quit, they fought to the end.

"Whatever the situation was, they did what we asked them to do. I'm proud of them. We're in this deal together."

REEDSBURG 21, PORTAGE 13

Portage ................6 7 0 0 - 13

Reedsburg ............0 6 7 8 - 21

P - Beck 2 run (Kick failed)

R - Westerwelle 4 run (Kick failed)

P - Nolan 3 run (Jordahl kick)

R - Bjorklund 31 run (Arneson kick)

R - Lopp 55 run (Brott run)

TEAM STATISTICS

First downs - P 14, R 12. Rushing (Att.-Yds.) - P 41-201, R 51-288. Passing yards - P 74, R 0. Passes (Comp.-Att.-Int.) - P 7-17-0, R 0-1-0. Penalties-yards - P 9-64, R 4-35.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS

Rushing - P: Daniel Beck 24-140; R: Luke Bjorklund 12-81, Aaron Lopp 5-87. Passing - P: Mike Jordahl 7-17-0, 74; R: Luke Bjorklund 0-1-0, 0. Receiving - P: Cole Alexander 1-22.

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