Irish rush for 415 yards
By Greg Seubert
It didn’t look like a very intriguing matchup on paper.
That wasn’t the case on the football field, however.
Waupaca and Freedom renewed their former Eastern Valley Conference rivalry Sept. 15. The 4-1 Irish scored on their first two possessions, but had to hold on for a 37-27 nonconference win over 1-4 Waupaca at Comet Field.
It looked at first like Freedom would be able to score at will, as the Irish had a 13-0 lead less than six minutes into the game. Matt Verhasselt capped a four-play, 78-yard drive with a 5-yard quarterback keeper.
After holding the Comets to a three-and-out, Freedom found the end zone again on Verhasselt’s 33-yard pass to Noah Berg that ended a five-play, 64-yard drive.
Waupaca scored on its next drive, as quarterback Brenden Canterbury scored from 5 yards out.
The Comets took a 14-13 lead after Canterbury connected with Jack Menzies for a 62-yard pass play to the Freedom 15-yard line. Verhasselt picked off a Canterbury pass, but lost possession of the ball after Jake Pankratz tackled him. Nick Gotto recovered the loose ball at the 1-yard line and Canterbury scored on the next play.
The lead didn’t last long, however, as Freedom’s Caden Hofacker scored on a 63-yard run.
Canterbury and Pankratz hooked up for a 13-yard touchdown pass that capped a 60-yard drive. Cody Rasmussen’s extra point gave the Comets a 21-20 lead with 3:38 remaining in the first half, but the Irish weren’t finished.
The Irish needed only four plays to go 77 yards, with Verhasselt scoring from 9 yards out to make it 27-21 and give Freedom the lead for good.
After the teams combined for 48 points and seven touchdowns in the first half, the second half turned out to be a different story.
Carson Hofacker’s 30-yard field goal late in the third quarter gave Freedom a 30-21 lead and the Irish added another score on Dakota Brockman’s 7-yard run with 2:17 to go in the game.
Waupaca added a late score on Canterbury’s 9-yard pass to Menzies with 5 seconds on the clock. The Comets attempted a two-point conversion that would have cut the lead to eight points, but came up short.
Freedom outgained the Comets 415-169 on the ground, but 359 of Freedom’s rushing yards came in the first half. Canterbury completed 18 of 29 passes for 223 yards.
The Irish had a pair of 100-yard rushers in Brockman (186) and Verhasselt (130), while Canterbury led Waupaca with 76.
Waupaca will wrap up a three-game home stand at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22, by hosting Green Bay West.