Merrill's second half rally downs Rhinelander
By Jeremy Mayo | Published: 10/08/2011
Kyle Comer (7) fakes a handoff to Nate Crabb (30) during the first half of Friday's football game for the Rhinelander Hodags at Jay Stadium in Merrill (Jeremy Mayo photo).
MERRILL – The Merrill ground game came alive in the second half and the RHS Football Team could not answer. The Bluejays rushed for three second half touchdowns and rallied to beat the Hodags 20-7 on Friday at Jay Stadium in Merrill.
The Bluejays when primary out of the pistol formation in the second half, essentially an I formation with the quarterback even with the fullback. From there, their ground game led by a big offensive line picked up steam.
“They ran the ball pretty well in the second half,” RHS Football Coach Jim Moore said after the game. “We didn't match up very good. They moved us out and wore us out there a little bit toward then end.”
The Hodags marched from their own 20 to the Merrill 10 on the first drive of the game, only to be stopped inched short of a first down on fourth and short. Merrill took the ensuing drive and marched down to the Rhinelander 10, but after a first and goal pass breakup by Josie Schaffer, Kyle Comer blitzed and picked an option pitch out of the air, returning to the 26.
Both teams chewed clock before punting on their next possessions. Rhinelander got it back with 4:43 left in the half, driving down inside the redzone, scoring on a three-yard TD plunge with Comer with 18 seconds left before the break.
Out of the locker room, Merrill took over, taking the opening drive of the second half 46 yards and scoring on a Coty Rajek nine yard run. Both teams followed by trading punts. On Rhinelander's next possession, Alec Baumgartner came in to quarterback after Comer got dinged on a tackle in the previous defensive series. Comer was just about ready to come back into the game when Baumgartner botched an option pitch and turned it over to the Bluejays on the Rhinelander 37.
Seven plays later, moments into the fourth quarter, the Bluejays took the lead on a Austin Voigt five yard run. Later in the fourth, Rajek plunged in on four and goal inside the one to account for the final margin.
Voigt, the GNC's leading rusher, racked up 103 yards on 16 carries in the second half alone, finishing the night with 20 carries, 117 yards and a score. The Bluejays, with an offensive line that averaged over 270 pounds per blocker, rushed for 117 yards in the second half and possessed the ball for exactly 16 of the final 24 minutes.
Richard Klaver looked good on the ground again in his second game as the primary tailback, filling in for the injured Joey Mixis. Klaver set a team-best for the season with 112 yards rushing on 17 carries. Comer added 43 on the ground and 24 through the air an alternated every other series calling plays with Moore.
“He did a nice job calling plays tonight, mixing it up,” Moore said. “I thought Rich ran hard. They worked hard and its was a fun football game to be associated with. I thought our kids gave a great effort. You have that sick feeling in your stomach when you get done (after a game like this) and you need it to motivate you to try to get over that and have that fun winning feeling.”
The Hodags have one more chance to earn a second win on the 2011 campaign as they wrap up the season at home against Medford next Friday night.
BOX SCORE: Rhinelander at Merrill – Friday, October 7, 2011
RHS 0 7 0 0 – 7
MER 0 0 7 13 – 20
2-0:18 R: Kyle Comer 3 yd run (Ben Franson kick)
3-9:05 M: Coty Rajek 9 yd run (Alex Cordova kick)
4-10:09 M: Austin Voigt 5 yd run (Cordova kick)
4-4:24 M: Rajek 1 yd run (run failed)
Total Plays-Yards: R 52-202, M 55-295
Rushing: R 178, M 227
Passing: R 24, M 68
First Downs: R 15, M 17
Turnovers: R 2, M 1
Penalties-Yards: R 4-26, M 5-35
Time of Poss: R 23:11, M 24:49
Rushing: R – Richard Klaver 17-112; Kyle Comer 11-46 TD, Nate Crabb 14-27... M – Austin Voigt 20-117 TD, Coty Rajek 14-65 2 TD, Alex Cordova 11-42.
Passing: R – Comer 2/7-24 INT... M – Cordova 7/8-68
Receiving: R – Darrel Lafferty 1-15, Luke Durkee 1-9... M – Paul 4-46, Alec Oestreich 1-18
Rhinelander (1-7, 1-4 GNC) vs. Medford, 10/14 (HodagSports.com)
Merrill (4-4, 3-2 GNC) at Antigo, 10/14
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