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Bay Port doubles up Marquette; advances to state semifinals

By Rich Palzewic
Sports Editor

SUAMICO – The Bay Port football team passed its toughest test of the season to date with flying colors.

Leading 21-14 early in the third quarter, the Pirates scored five touchdowns in the last 16 minutes of the game in posting a 56-28 victory over Marquette University at Bay Port High School Nov. 8.

The WIAA Division 1, Level 3 playoff win for the Pirates sets up a showdown with Kimberly in the state semifinals Friday, Nov. 15, at Titan Stadium on the campus of UW-Oshkosh.

“We are happy to be practicing another week,” said Bay Port head coach Gary Westerman. “I’m happy with our offense against a good defense. We played well defensively in stretches, but then we’d cut guys loose. We had a chance to blow them out of the water, so we have some corrections to make. We have to coach them better, and they have to execute better.”

The win marks the first time Bay Port (12-0) advanced to the state semifinals since 2014.

The Pirates had lost in Level 3 in each of the past three seasons.

“We are relatively healthy going into our game against Kimberly,” Westerman said. “There’s been on a monkey on our backs [in Level 3], now the monkey is off our backs.”

The 28 points and 387 yards surrendered by the Pirates’ defense were both season highs.

Bay Port, which got 260 yards rushing from Isaiah Gash, gained 517 total yards.

“It was tough out there,” said Gash. “Marquette has a lot of Division I guys on their line, so it was tough sledding at times. I’m proud of my team for playing hard and moving on.”

A week after Gash rushed for 316 yards with four touchdowns in Level 2, he added a pair of scores on 28 carries for the Pirates, who rushed for 412 yards overall.

The game started with some fireworks.

The Hilltoppers (8-4) took the opening kickoff 97 yards for an apparent touchdown, but an illegal blindside block wiped the score out.

Three plays later, Bay Port defensive back Logan Geissler intercepted Marquette quarterback Matt McDevitt and returned it 31 yards for a score.

After Navy commit Max Meeuwsen ended the Hilltoppers’ second and third drives of the game with third-down sacks, Pirates quarterback Andrew Thomas found wide receiver Sam Plumb for a 20-yard score near the end of the first quarter.

A Jayden Montgomery interception set up Gash’s first score: a 59-yard gallop up the middle of the field to make it 21-0 with 58 seconds remaining in the first.

Gash, who averaged 9.3 yards per carry, kept his balance, squirted through the line and outraced the defense to the end zone.

“We had a couple of drives fizzle out, and we missed a field goal, so we left some points on the field,” Westerman said. “We had a good game plan and a good scheme.”

Trailing 21-0, Marquette running back/linebacker Riley Nowakowski scored from 14 yards out early in the second quarter, and then ripped off an 84-yard run to start the third down the sideline to pull the Hilltoppers to within a score.

Nowakowski, who has 14 college scholarship offers (including Air Force, Army, Navy and Central Michigan) was held to 117 yards on nine carries.

“Nowakowski is a man,” said Westerman. “We were able to block him a little bit while on offense. On film, he wasn’t getting blocked. He’s a good player.”

Order was restored when Bay Port got rushing scores from Montgomery, Thomas and Gash to balloon the lead to 42-14 at the start of the fourth quarter.

Gash’s second touchdown came from 57 yards out.

Thomas added a second touchdown strike to Plumb from 26 yards away and scored on a 20-yard run for the final margin.

Thomas was 7-of-12 passing for 105 yards and added 104 yards rushing.

Plumb caught four balls for 92 yards.

Defensively, Montgomery recorded three sacks to go along with Meeuwsen’s two.

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