Badger quarterback Mason Dumez is seen during Friday’s homecoming game against Union Grove. Dumez had two rushing touchdowns for the night in the Badgers’ win. (Tanner Fields photo)

Badger quarterback Mason Dumez is seen during Friday’s homecoming game against Union Grove. Dumez had two rushing touchdowns for the night in the Badgers’ win. (Tanner Fields photo)

Team seals win over Union Grove with strong fourth quarter

By Michael S. Hoey

Correspondent

For the Badgers on Friday, how they started the game wasn’t what counted but how they finished the game.

Union Grove did all it could to spoil Lake Geneva Badger’s homecoming game, but Badger dominated the fourth quarter to come away with the win and preserve a chance to win an outright Southern Lakes Conference championship this week.

Through the first three quarters, Union Grove just would not go away, matching the Badgers score for score. The score was 7-7 after one quarter, 14-14 after two, and 21-21 after three. Badger dominated the fourth quarter 22-7 to come out on top 50-35.

The Broncos tried to grab early momentum by attempting an on-side kick to start the game, but the ball did not make it the required 10 yards. Badger started its first possession in Union Grove territory, but the drive stalled at the 18-yard line. A fourth down pass fell incomplete.

Union Grove failed to move the ball and was forced to punt. Badger again got good field position, taking over at its own 49-yard line. The Badgers moved the ball to the Bronco 16-yard line before settling for a field-goal attempt that was blocked.

Union Grove was forced to punt again. The Badgers wasted no time taking the lead this time. Quarterback Mason DuMez burst up the middle for a 61-yard run that ended at the Bronco 10-yard line. Braden O’Laughlin then scored from there, and Badger led 7-0.

Badger tried a pooch kick of its own but Union Grove recovered at its own 43-yard line. Quarterback Matt Nelson directed the Broncos down the field and scored on a 37-yard touchdown run to tie the score.

Badger was then forced to punt and Jacob Ross returned it 25 yards to the Badger 36-yard line. The Broncos survived a fourth and five at the Badger 31 when Nelson completed a nine-yard pass to Carson LaPointe. Two plays later, Nelson scored from 21 yards out after almost being stopped in the backfield, and the Broncos led 14-7.

Badger answered right back with a trick play on the first play of the next drive. DuMez pitched it to Will Keller who then threw a 53-yard pass to Dawson Vance that gave the Badgers a first-and-goal at the six-yard line. Patrick Watrous scored two plays later to tie the score.

Badger again benefitted from good field position as the Broncos were forced to punt, and it was not a good punt. The Badgers took over at their own 49 and moved down the field in seven plays. Watrous scored from four yards out to give Badger a 21-14 lead.

Just before halftime, Union Grove tied it again on a trick play. Nelson completed a short pass to Jack Pettit who then pitched it to Ross, who got around the corner and down the sideline resulting in a 74-yard scoring play.

In the third quarter Badger survived a lost fumble by Watrous without giving up any points, but Watrous was hurt and played little after that. Badger later took a 28-21 lead on a one-yard run by DuMez. Union Grove answered right back with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Nelson to Pettit.

Badger again got good field position on its next drive thanks to a 30-yard kick return from Keller. DuMez scored on a 39-yard run to put Badger up 35-28. The Badgers finally opened some space between them and the Broncos after an interception by Colin Jackson. Jackson ran the interception back for a touchdown but the return was called back because of holding. The Badgers took over at the Bronco 38 and scored on a five-yard run by O’Laughlin. Badger then faked the extra point, and DuMez connected with Austin Flower for the two-point conversion giving Badger a 43-28 lead.

Badger almost put the game away with a defensive stop on fourth and 16, but then a Badger fumble gave the Broncos new life with 5:37 left. Union Grove scored on a Nelson two-yard run that was set up by a 45-yard pass completion. Badger’s lead was cut to 43-35 with about 3 1/2 minutes to play.

The Badgers recovered an on-side kick attempt at their own 45-yard line and put the game away with an eight-play drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by Wes Sontag.

The Badger offense used its rushing attack, led by DuMez’s 198 yards on 20 attempts, to maintain control of the game. Watrous gained 136 yards on 20 carries before leaving the game. The Badgers as a team rushed for 460 yards.

The Badger rush defense did well holding the Broncos (4-4, 2-4 SLC) to 49 yards on the ground, all gained by Nelson on 19 attempts. The pass defense struggled to contain Nelson who completed 19 of 36 passes for 289 yards with several long pass completions down the field. Ross had 129 yards receiving.

Badger (8-0, 6-0 SLC) is ranked No. 5 in Division 1 and can win the SLC title outright with a win at Waterford on Friday night. A loss would mean the Badgers would share the title with Waterford and possibly Wilmot (both 7-1, 5-1).

Waterford is ranked No. 9 in Division 2 and is fresh off a 41-6 win over Delavan-Darien (5-3, 4-2). Wilmot is ranked No. 8 in Division 2 and hosts Delavan-Darien on Friday.

 
 

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