In a clash between two unbeaten teams, the Rhinelander Hodags football team applied a stout run defense and powerful running game to down Wausau East in a non-conference game Friday night. Both teams entered the contest with a 3-0 record. Wausau East's last three win start was in 2004 and Rhinelander's last three win start was in 1974. Both teams entered the contest employing a "pound the ball on the ground"mentality. The game was a matchup between Lumberjack senior running back Donovan Leverette, and Hodag senior running back Drake Martin. Martin won the battle hands down - game over. The first quarter began with Rhinelander electing to kick to Wausau East. After three plays the Lumberjacks were forced to punt the ball. A short punt and 39 yards later, Drake Martin caught a Quinn Lamers 14 yard pass to the end zone for a Hodag 6-0 lead. Wausau East's second possession resulted in a turnover on downs and a Drake Martin 6 yard touchdown run to increase the Hodag's lead to 12-0. The Lumberjacks next possession resulted in an interception by senior defensive back Max Spaulding. The Hodags were not able to put together a cohesive drive and turned the ball over on downs. Wausau East then gave the ball to Donovan Leverette who ran the ball 9 yards to the end zone for six points. The Hodag's lead had now dwindled to 12-7. Rhinelander answered with another Drake Martin touchdown to end the first half with an 18-7 lead. The second half began with a Drake Martin 11 yard touchdown run to keep Rhinelander on top 25-7. Two possessions later, Wausau East's junior quarterback Matt Heinrich scored a touchdown on a one yard quarterback sneak. The Lumberjacks missed on the extra point attempt and the score was now 25-13. Rhinelander responded with another touchdown. Drake Martin ran the ball 4 yards to cap off the score at 31-13. Rhinelander offensively outgained Wausau East 327 to 222 yards. Drake Martin finished the game with 23 carries and two receptions, 176 yards and five touchdowns. Peyton Erickson quietly ran for 103 yards on only six carries. Quinn Lamers was 2 for 4 for a total of 36 yards passing. Wausau East's Matt Heinrich was 1 for 6 passing for a total of 18 yards and an interception, 84 yards rushing and a one-yard touchdown run. Running back Donovan Leverette who was averaging over 252 yards per game and 11 yards per carry, had 22 carries for 94 yards total. Although the Hodags are 4-0, they are just 1-0 in conference play and will face their toughest opponent next Friday against the Medford Red Raiders at Medford. There are four unbeaten teams in the Great Northern conference as of today. Rhinelander, Antigo, Medford,and Mosinee.
Photo By Mark LaCrosse Payton Erikson carries the ball to the endzone
In front of a jam packed Mike Webster Stadium, the home team christened the brand new turf field with a convincing conference game win against the Lakeland Thunderbirds 25 to 7. The win boosted Rhinelander to their third straight victory and the Northern Axe trophy. Rhinelander has begun the season 3-0 for the first time since1989. The Rhinelander defense got things rolling early by forcing a Lakeland punt on the Thunderbirds first possession. The Hodags then marched the ball 85 yards down the field and scored on a 13 yard Peyton Erikson scramble to the end zone. After a missed extra point, Rhinelander led 6-0. The Hodags then squandered a number of opportunities after a Ben Sinclair interception off a throw from Lakeland quarterback Michael Ouimette. Both teams then exchanged possessions of the football following a number of third down misses. On the next possession, the Hodags were able to lumber down the field 75 yards that was capped off with an 11 yard Drake Martin touchdown run. Rhinelander again missed the extra point attempt to lead 12-0. Lakeland quarterback Michael Ouimette threw his second interception of the game with just seconds left in the half. The Hodag's then killed the clock to retain the 12-0 lead. At the start of the second half, Lakeland got on the scoreboard after a Quinn Lamers interception. The Thunderbirds moved the ball down the field 80 yards to score on a Michael Ouimette 4 yard touchdown run. In the third quarter both teams exchanged a series of punts to preserve the 12 to 7 score. In Rhinelander's next possession, the Hodags added 7 points with a Drake Martin touchdown after a 34 yard march down the field. In the fourth quarter Rhinelander topped off the contest with another Drake Martin 2 yard touchdown run to boost the score to 25 to 7. The Rhinelander defense continued to hold tough in the final minutes of the fourth quarter to send the Hodags to victory. Senior Drake Martin finished the contest with 25 possessions for 226 yards and three touchdowns." I knew Lakeland was going to come out in the second half swinging. I told the guys you're going to get a punch back but you need to finish. Our guys dominated the fourth quarter and did exactly what we needed to do which was finish" said coach Kraemer. Rhinelander will host a non-conference game against the Wausau East Lumberjacks on Friday, September 13 at 7pm at Mike Webster Stadium. Both teams are undefeated at 3-0.
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