New London football punches its ticket
By Erik Buchinger
Jack Noffke’s 26-yard field goal in overtime gave New London a 16-13 win in overtime over Shawano and sent the Bulldogs to the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Marc Marsh guided to the Bulldogs for the first time as the team’s head coach, and he said was proud of his players to experience playoff football.
“I’m just happy for our kids,” Marsh said. “It’s just something that they can experience, and they definitely deserve it.”
New London went into overtime tied at 13 and made a stop on Shawano’s lone possession.
On New London’s overtime possession, the Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-10 from the 25-yard line, but the drive was kept alive on a 11-yard reception from Jack Noffke to Parker Fermanich, who took a big hit over the middle.
With a fourth down at the 9-yard line, Noffke, who played kicker, quarterback, punter and defense in the game, said he was ready for the game-winning kick.
“I was 100 percent confident, I’m not going to lie,” Noffke said. “I can make that kick with my eyes closed.”
In addition to nailing the game-winner, Noffke completed 6 of 17 passes for 69 yards and scored a two-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game.
“It’s incredible, especially in our senior season,” Noffke said. “It means this game wasn’t our last game, so I’m very happy.”
In a game in which both teams were in need of a win, New London running back Makaio Harn said the game had a different feel to it.
“It definitely felt like a playoff game,” Harn said. “We came in here and actually pretended it was a playoff game. Very tough.”
Harn finished the game with 137 rushing yards on 32 carries and one touchdown. He also set up the Bulldogs with good field position with long kickoff returns.
New London was already playoff eligible, but the win guaranteed the Bulldogs a spot. Marsh said he wanted New London to look at the game like it was a playoff game.
“That was our attitude coming in,” Marsh said. “We didn’t want to limp into the playoffs and lose here. We wanted to go in as a 6-3 team, not a 5-4. So we treated this as a playoff game and put some pressure on our guys.”
Marsh said he was proud of the way his team responded in a big game.
“I’m just proud as heck of our guys,” Marsh said. “Sometimes things don’t go your way during a game, but they never game up. They got down to it and got gritty in the second half and gutted out a huge win for us here at home.”
The Bulldogs earned the No. 7 seed in the playoffs and will go on the road in the first round to play No. 2 Kewaskum on Friday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.