Xavier now in Bay Conference driver’s seat
By Greg Seubert
The WIAA football playoffs won’t get underway for more than a month, but there was a playoff atmosphere at Waupaca’s Haberkorn Field.
Xavier handed Waupaca a 23-14 loss in a matchup of 3-0 Bay Conference teams.
With the win, Xavier is one of a handful of teams from across the state that wrapped up a spot in the playoffs,
The Comets turned the ball over on their first two drives with an interception and fumble. Xavier converted the fumble into the game’s first score, as the Hawks drove 56 yards and scored on Zach Simons’ 29-yard pass to Sam Burkart with 1:38 to go in the first quarter.
The lead didn’t last long, as the Comets converted an interception into points. Walker Smith found Johnny Popham for a 9-yard TD pass and Hayden Neidert’s extra point gave the Comets a 7-6 lead with 5:55 to go in the first half.
Neither team scored again until Ben VanDeurzen kicked a 22-yard field goal with 5:05 remaining in the third quartet to give Xavier the lead for good at 9-7. The Hawks also scored on their next drive, as Simons scored on a 55-yard quarterback keeper with 2:07 remaining in the period. He then connected with Burkart for the two-point conversion and Xavier took a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter.
Waupaca cut the lead to 17-14 on the second play of the fourth quarter, as Smith scored from a yard out with 11:41 to go in the game after the Comets drove 60 yards in eight plays.
The Hawks added an insurance touchdown with 1:05 to go in the game, as Simons capped a seven-play, 54-yard drive from a yard out. Simons accounted for all of the Hawks’ yards on the drive.
Waupaca drove is far as the Xavier 14-yard line, but Smith’s pass on fourth-and-two with 22 seconds to go in the game fell incomplete.
Xavier outgained the Comets 186-142 on the ground, but Waupaca had a 132-70 advantage through the air and outgained the Hawks 274-256.
Waupaca will travel to Wrightstown Friday, Sept. 18, for a 7 p.m. nonconference matchup with the Tigers.