BY MURRAY GLEFFE
MENASHA-The wait is over!
Not since both teams joined the Bay Conference in 2014, had West De Pere beat Menasha in football.
The Phantoms lost the previous four games by a combined 69 points.
This night, however, proved to be the evening the Phantoms finally got over the proverbial hump by defeating the fourth ranked and previously unbeaten Bluejays by a final of 35-7 at Nathan Calder Stadium. (Sept. 28)
Phantoms quarterback Josh Blount rushed for 161 yards and one touchdown.
Running back Evan Frisque added 127 yards and two touchdowns.
The stout West De Pere defense held Menasha to 172 yards, 101 of them coming in the fourth quarter after the game had been decided.
The Phantoms went on defense to begin the game and the Bluejays found themselves going three and out to start.
A rash of penalties to start the game forced West De Pere into third and long situations on its opening couple of series.
“We had three early penalties that kind of stymied our offense a bit,” said Jack Batten, West De Pere football coach. “I was proud of the way the guys stuck together on that second drive and David capped it off with a nice run.”
David Vanderlogt finally broke the ice with a 27-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter to put the Phantoms up 7-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Bluejays Abraham Elazazy fumbled the ball as he was hit and it gave West De Pere great field position inside the Menasha 30.
Four plays later, the Phantoms cashed in after Vanderlogt took a pitch from Blount just a yard out.
Within a two-minute span, the Phantoms had gone up 14-0 just before the start of the second quarter.
“We got the early turnover that really changed the dynamic of the game,” said Batten. “In years past, we had been the team to fall behind. I’m glad we flipped the switch this year.”
With the wind and cold firmly entrenched, neither team was successful through the air.
Midway through the second quarter, after the Phantoms defense made another successful stop, Frisque (who was pressed into starting duty after Vanderlogt got hurt) took a handoff, busted up the right sidelines, and went all the way to the endzone from 49 yards out.
The 21-0 lead left the near capacity home crowd in stunned silence.
At the half, the Phantoms had a 207 to 53-yard advantage rushing but knew with a three score lead they’d have to do more to put the game out of reach.
That’s exactly what West De Pere did coming out of the locker room.
After a poor kickoff, the Phantoms set up at their own 45 to start half number two.
Blount kept for just two yards on the opening play.
Then on the second play, he faked a pitch to Frisque and used a burst of speed to dash past the linebackers and secondary of Menasha to give the Phantoms a 28-0 lead just 48 seconds into the third quarter.
Whatever energy the Bluejays had left in the game was gone after the two-play drive by the Phantoms.
“I told the kids at halftime that the first drive of the second half would be the most important one of the season, so far,” Batten said.
The ninth ranked Phantoms then showed the fourth ranked Bluejays who was king on this night by draining the third quarter with an 18 play 72-yard drive to give West De Pere a 35-0 lead and, you got it, initiate a running clock on Menasha’s home turf.
A late fourth quarter hail mary from Cole Popp to Brady Jurgella was all the points the Bluejays could muster on this night as the Phantoms captured the contest by four touchdowns and remain perfect at 7-0!
“It was a long frustrating four years for myself and the kids,” said Batten. “To win convincingly tonight speaks volume about our program. I’m proud of these players for coming out and playing a whale of a football game.”
The Phantoms will travel next week to take on the Waupaca Comets.
West De Pere 14, 7, 14, 0 35
Menasha 0, 0, 0, 7 7