By Mike Warren
MARSHFIELD – In a Div. 3 level 4 playoff game Green Bay Notre Dame lost 30-15 to Rice Lake, the Tritons went 0-of-4 when they had the ball inside the Warriors’ 20-yard line.
“We knew that they do a good job of what they do and we were gonna have to stop them, and there were glimpses of it,” Notre Dame Head Coach Mike Radar told the Press Times after the game, played Nov. 10 at Marshfield High School’s Heiting Stadium. “I thought the first half was pretty good, but we gotta score when we get inside the red zone and we didn’t do that enough, and their style of play can wear you out at times and it did.”
Wear them out it did indeed. But not before the Tritons wore themselves down, on long drives which ended without points.
Second-seeded Notre Dame opened the game with a 13-play drive which ended in the red zone when the Tritons turned the ball over on downs at the Rice Lake 11-yard line.
The drive took over seven minutes off the first-quarter clock, but put no points on the scoreboard.
“That was the game we expected,” Rader said. “That was what we thought was gonna happen. They’re a good defense. That’s what it comes down to. We had a couple things, assignment-wise, that weren’t exactly perfect, but when you’re going against a good defense you have to be on game at that point, and little things add up.”
The Tritons did force the Warriors to go three-and-out on their ensuing possession, and Notre Dame capitalized, using eight plays to cover 52 yards and scoring on a two-yard touchdown run by junior running back Christian Collins with 10:11 left in the second quarter.
The Warriors, however, answered quickly, covering 77 yards in four plays and scoring on a 46-yard run by junior halfback Lucas Peters with 8:22 left in the first half.
Their PAT try was no good, and the Tritons held a 7-6 lead.
On the second play of their ensuing possession, Notre Dame’s Div. 1 collegiate recruit – junior tight end James Flanigan – fumbled, giving Rice Lake the ball.
The Warriors were forced to punt six plays later.
But Notre Dame turned the ball over on downs six plays into their next possession.
Just when it looked like the Warriors might take a knee to end the first half down by one, they hit a big play.
After an incomplete pass by quarterback Jakob Kunz on first down, he broke free for a 61-yard scamper with 25 seconds on the clock.
Zach Orr ran in the two-point conversion, and the Warriors grabbed a lead they would not surrender.
Rice Lake began the second half by covering 80 yards in four plays and scoring on a seven-yard TD run by Easton Stone, a 6’2”, 220-pound fullback.
He also converted on the two-point conversion try, and the Warriors now led 22-7 with 10:02 left in the third quarter.
Notre Dame got the ball back and went on another long, 16-play drive, but again came up empty in the red zone, turning the ball over on downs at the Rice Lake seven-yard line, when Collins was hit in the backfield and dropped for a six-yard loss on 4th-and-1 from the Warriors’ 1-yard line.
Nine plays later, Kunz capped off a 93-yard scoring drive with a 28-yard run with 8:02 left in the game.
Notre Dame’s ensuing drive ended on an interception thrown by senior quarterback Carson Glosny.
A bright spot for the Tritons came when senior defensive lineman Stanley Smith scooped up a Rice Lake fumble and returned it 30 yards for a Notre Dame touchdown, their last of the 2023 season.
“It’s a great group [of seniors],” Rader said. “Really proud of everything that they’ve done. They’ve had a really good season. Set the standard for what it is we expect out of kids.”
The Tritons end their season 11-2 overall.