Phantoms stun Jaguars in waning seconds
By Murray Gleffe
ASHWAUBENON — In one of the more bizarre finishes in recent years, the West De Pere Phantoms football team was about to remain winless on the season.
Then, within a matter of seconds, Bryce Smith kicked a 37-yard field goal with no time remaining to lift the Phantoms over Ashwaubenon Sept. 3, 15-14.
The Fox River Classic Conference game was held at Goelz Field at Ashwaubenon High School.
“I’m proud of our coaching staff for never giving up in this game,” Chris Greisen, West De Pere head coach, said. “Their quarterback (Boone Kirst) is good for them. We had to battle tonight to get it done.”
On their final drive of the evening, the Jaguars (0-3) were about to run the clock out after three consecutive kneel-downs from Kirst.
On fourth down, from inside its own 30, Ashwaubenon went for it with seconds remaining and lost yardage, setting up the dramatic finish.
Duke Shovald replaced starter Sam Aleknavicius and threw for 203 yards and two touchdowns for West De Pere (1-2).
Kirst completed 23-of-38 passes for 264 yards.
Caden Van Duyse eclipsed the 100-yard mark receiving with double-digit receptions.
The Jaguars outgained West De Pere in total yardage, 390 to 232.
Shane Kempen led the Phantoms with 14 tackles.
Neither team mustered much offense in the opening quarter, with West De Pere punting on its first 3 possessions.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Ashwaubenon took over at its 44.
Four plays later, Andrew Pludeman went into the end zone from seven yards out for a 7-0 lead after the extra point.
Midway through the second quarter, with its running game inept, the Phantoms turned to the aerial attack.
Shovald connected with four different receivers on the series.
The final reception was hauled in by Gyriece Goodman for a 39-yard touchdown to pull West De Pere to within 7-6 after the extra-point attempt failed.
“(Shovald) is a young kid,” Greisen said. “He settled down and started throwing the ball well. He hit a few nice slants, which kept us in the game.”
Despite racking up huge yardage in the second quarter, Ashwaubenon’s two drives ended with an interception and a blocked field goal.
“We were blessed to be down only a point at halftime,” Greisen said. “We struggled offensively the whole night. I didn’t feel like we blocked well, and our backs didn’t have any big runs. Credit our guys, though, for staying resilient.”
With 3:36 left in the third quarter, the home team added to its total when Kirst scrambled to his right, then went left and finally scampered into the end zone from three yards out to give the Jaguars a 14-6 lead after the extra point.
However, the Phantoms hung around and stayed within reach.
With 8:30 remaining, wide receiver Langdon Nordgaard hauled in an acrobatic 10-yard touchdown reception to cut the margin to 14-12 after the failed 2-pt conversion.
After an Ashwaubenon punt, West De Pere drove 57 yards before being turned away on downs with less than two minutes remaining, setting up the final two possessions of the night.
“Anytime you win in conference, it’s huge,” Greisen said. “It will help our confidence. We have to get these kids in the film room, see what we did wrong and improve on it for next week.”
West De Pere: 0, 6, 0, 9 — 15
Ashwaubenon: 7, 0, 7, 0 — 14