Waupaca shuts down Phantom’s running game
By Greg Seubert
The effort was there.
The points, however, weren’t.
Waupaca dropped a 20-7 Bay Conference football game to West De Pere Sept. 23 at Haberkorn Field. It was the second straight loss for the Comets, a team that opened the season with four straight conference wins.
Although the Phantoms were able to find the end zone three times, one touchdown came on a 4-yard drive after a blocked punt. The Comets also held West De Pere to 110 rushing yards on 48 attempts.
Austin Beaumier scored from 4 yards out with 7:22 to go in the first quarter after the first of two blocked punts gave the Phantoms the ball at the Waupaca 4-yard line.
West De Pere added to its lead with 50 seconds remaining in the half, as Beaumier scored from 2 yards out.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, but the Phantoms took a 20-0 lead 47 seconds into the fourth quarter on Matt McNabb’s 14-yard run.
Waupaca avoided the shutout with Hayden Neidert’s 4-yard quarterback keeper with 3:39 to go in the game to cap a nine-play, 71-yard drive.
West De Pere outgained Waupaca 225-184. Beaumier and McNabb finished with 53 and 33 rushing yards, respectively, on a combined 42 attempts, but both players came into the game averaging more than 6 yards per carry.
“Our effort was tremendous tonight,” coach Tom Noltner said. “We worked hard on tackling all week long. We knew those two were great. Those two players are sore. They’re frustrated, they were gasping for air over there. They knew they were in a game. It was very, very physical on both sides. That’s only going to help us.”
Waupaca’s running game wasn’t much better, as the Phantoms held the Comets to 64 yards on 20 carries. However, Neidert completed 16 of 30 passes for 120 yards. Stephen Johnson caught seven of those passes for a game-high 60 yards.
“He had pretty good protection,” Noltner said. “The offensive line did a pretty good job. We knew they were fast, we knew they were big.”
The Comets fell to 4-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play, while the Phantoms are now 6-0 overall and 5-0 in the Bay.
Waupaca will head to Shawano Saturday, Oct. 1, for a rare regular-season daylight game, as the Comets will face the Hawks at 1 p.m.
The Comets will then host Seymour for Homecoming Friday, Oct. 7, before closing out the regular season Friday, Oct. 14, at home against unbeaten Menasha.
One more win will give the Comets five conference wins, which would qualify Waupaca for the WIAA state playoffs for the 26th straight year.
Extending that streak, currently the second-longest in Wisconsin, is a one of the team’s goals this season, according to Noltner.
“The next two games are huge, one after another,” he said.