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Late interception from Courchaine seals win for Pirates

By Murray Gleffe

DE PERE — With less than 20 seconds remaining in the game, AJ Courchaine picked off West De Pere quarterback Duke Shovald in the end zone to help lift Bay Port to a 26-21 Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) victory Sept. 10 at West De Pere High School.

“We found a way to make a play down the stretch,” Gary Westerman, Bay Port head coach, said. “We made lots of errors with the roughing-the-kicker penalty and other mistakes at key times. At the end of the day, I’m proud of our kids to get this win.”

Pirates quarterback Cole Bensen ran for 155 yards and one touchdown, while fullback Tevyn Montgomery added 105 yards and two scores.

One week after showing his versatility against Ashwaubenon, Shovald completed 18 of 32 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns.

Bay Port’s stout defensive line limited the Phantoms to 13 yards on the ground.

“I’m impressed how we took their run game away in the early going,” Westerman said.

The Pirates (4-0 overall, 2-0 FRCC) outgained the Phantoms (1-3, 1-1) in total yards, 388-326.

After an exchange of possessions to open the game, the Phantoms faced a third-and-five from their 25.

Shovald found a streaking Najeh Mitchell for 74 yards and an opening touchdown for West De Pere.

“Some of it was what West De Pere did through the air,” Westerman said. “The other half was our kids didn’t execute on certain plays in the secondary.”

On Bay Port’s next series, Montgomery rumbled down the middle of the field until he found the end zone 72 yards later.

West De Pere’s 7-6 lead remained after the Pirates missed the point-after attempt.

After a Phantoms score put them up 14-6, Bay Port capitalized on another big play.

Bensen faked an option pitch and went 83 yards around the end to cut the deficit to 14-12 after the missed two-point conversion.

“We got (Bensen) in space, and he finished the deal,” Westerman said. “We got the ball on the outside which helped with our playmakers.”

With about a minute remaining until halftime, the Pirates corralled the lead when Bensen hit tight end Nate Forystek from 33 yards out to make it 19-14 after the extra point.

The home team couldn’t muster any offense in the third quarter.

Bay Port capitalized by going up two scores (26-14) when Montgomery scored from one yard out near the end of the third quarter.

West De Pere remained resilient by way of the passing game.

On the subsequent series, Shovald found Gyriece Goodman, Langdon Nordgaard and finally Mitchell from 25 yards out in the end zone to cut Bay Port’s lead to 26-21 with 8:35 remaining.

With the Pirates not moving the football in the final 12 minutes, the Phantoms had two opportunities to win.

The first resulted in a fumble by Mitchell inside the Pirates 10-yard line.

The latter was the Courchaine interception in the final minute, keeping the Pirates undefeated during the 2021 campaign.

“We have to be better and cleaner,” Westerman said. “We have both De Pere and Pulaski coming up. We need to fix our mistakes in practice. We’ll take it one game, one week at a time.”

Box score:

Bay Port: 6, 13, 7, 0 — 26

West De Pere: 7, 7, 0, 7 — 21

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