Pirates Win Epic Game Over Point
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – This one won’t soon be forgotten.
For the second season in a row, the Bay Port football team hooked up with Stevens Point Area Senior High in an instant classic. Unlike last year when Point escaped with a narrow state quarterfinal victory, it was the Pirates’ turn this year.
Spurred on by 188 yards rushing and two touchdowns from Isaiah Gash, and four TDs from Ryan Smith, No. 3 ranked Bay Port outlasted the Panthers 57-51 in four overtimes in a WIAA D1 Level 2 playoff game on Oct. 27 at Bay Port High School.
With the score tied at 51 in the fourth OT, the Pirates’ defense forced a turnover on downs on fourth and eight, setting up Smith’s fourth TD of the night to end the three-hour marathon game.
“I don’t even know what to say,” said Bay Port head coach Gary Westerman after his team improved to 11-0 on the season. “I’m just really proud of my guys and how they hung in there. Just like last week, I’m glad that our seniors get another week to play.
“It was so up and down. We played really good football in stretches, but we also had opportunities to score in the first half and we turned it over. We really didn’t get stopped in the second half offensively. Good teams find a way to win and we’ve done that all year.”
The Pirates moved the ball well in spurts early on, but a fumble inside the three-yard line and an interception stalled their first two drives.
After Point scored with just 1:33 left in the first half to make it 7-0, a key moment in the game happened in favor of Bay Port.
After the Panthers’ ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, Westerman chose to enforce the five-yard penalty and make SPASH re-kick. The choice turned out to be golden, as Cordell Tinch took the second kick 81 yards down the left sidelines to shift the momentum back to the Pirates. The point-after attempt was no good.
“I told Isaiah not to touch the ball (on the kickoff) because, ‘if I got the ball, I was taking it to the end zone’,” said Tinch.
“This was a game where you just didn’t know which way it was going to go. All night we had beaten ourselves and it probably shouldn’t have gone where it did, but we came back from all the adversity and pulled it out.”
Bay Port began to roll offensively when they went 68 yards in 10 plays to take a 12-7 lead halfway through the third quarter on a Smith TD, and then went up another score when Tanner Hendricks – the FRCC defensive back of the year – returned an interception 45 yards on Point’s next possession to make it 19-7.
“It was a great read by (cornerback) Seth Wood on the play to knock it up in the air and it just fell into my hands,” said Hendricks. “I saw (Colton Kizewski) coming at me near the goal line, but I just put a little move on him and got the touchdown.”
After SPASH scored on the first play of its next possession, Gash dashed 58 yards two plays later to put the Pirates up 26-14 with five minutes left in the third, but Point wouldn’t go away.
Leading just 26-21, Owen Miller nailed a 31-yard field goal with 2:42 left to put Bay Port up eight, but the Panthers tied the game with a touchdown and successful two-point conversion 90 seconds later to force overtime.
45 minutes after regulation ended, the Pirates moved on to Level 3 to take on Appleton North, who was a 45-7 winner over Neenah. Bay Port will host the state quarterfinal game on Friday, Nov. 3 at 7:00.
In all, the Pirates had 437 yards of offense, 329 of which was rushing. Bay Port’s defense gave up 409 total yards – including 184 rushing to Kizewski – but they came up big in OT when they had to.
“First of all, hats off to Bay Port,” said Point head coach Pete McAdams, whose teams ends with a 6-5 record. “They are an outstanding team and have a great program. They have some playmakers out there. They put the game on their offensive line in the second half, so kudos to them. I’m proud of my team and our seniors for their leadership.”
Smith scored three of his four touchdowns in the overtime period, while Gash scored his second of the night in the second OT from eight yards out.
Jacob Calawerts and quarterback Isaac Krause added 69 and 64 yards rushing respectively, while Tinch had seven receptions for 59 yards to go along with his kickoff return for a TD. Krause also added 108 yards on 13-of-21 passing.
SPASH 0, 7, 14, 8, 22 – 51
Bay Port 0, 6, 20, 3, 28 – 57