Cedarburg dodges upset bid in North Shore tussle by making Pirates pay for miscues
One of the key ingredients in the victory formula was missing last Friday for the Port Washington football team.PORT WASHINGTON DEFENSIVE BACK Joe Burbach (center) went high to break up a pass intended for a Cedarburg receiver during last Fridayâ€™s North Shore Conference game. Teammate Austin Gehrke looked on. Photo by Sam Arendt
The Pirates forgot to protect the ball.
Derailed by five interceptions and several defensive breakdowns, host Port saw its shot at upsetting Cedarburg fade into a 44-22 North Shore Conference loss.
â€śWe preached all week that you canâ€™t make mistakes, and we made them,â€ť Port coach Tim Greisch said.
â€śWe came out pretty sound and got some stops on defense. We played physical football, but we turned the ball over too much, and Cedarburg capitalized.â€ť
After Roman Bailey scored on a 1-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, the Pirates pulled within 7-6. However, the Bulldogs â€” who improved their second-place NSC record to 5-1 â€” responded with three unanswered scores that put them ahead, 28-6, by intermission.
After Cedarburg was forced to punt on four of its first five possessions, it took control. Quarterback Joey Lepak scored on a 1-yard run, Joe Zuba picked off a pass by Taylor Devenport and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown, and Matt Johnson caught a 29-yard scoring pass from Lepak with 1 minute, 28 seconds left in the half.
By the break, the Bulldogs had four interceptions against Devenport. However, the senior also helped rally the Pirates in the second half and finished 11-for-26 passing for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
On Portâ€™s second possession of the third quarter, Devenport connected on a 48-yard scoring pass to Marty Franzkowiak. Mick Clarkeâ€™s two-point conversion run pulled the Pirates within 28-14.
However, Cedarburg countered with two scores. After Kane Kaimanâ€™s 1-yard touchdown run capped a seven-play, 63-yard drive, Jason Seeke kicked a 48-yard field goal that put the Bulldogs up, 38-14, with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
â€śOur defense has struggled all season,â€ť said Greisch, whose team fell to 1-5 in the conference and 2-6 overall.
â€śWe got some stops, but whenever we turned the ball over, our defense seemed to have trouble holding them.
â€śIf we turn it over, the defense has to dig in and get another stop. We werenâ€™t able to do that.â€ť
The Pirates got within 38-22 with 6:39 left when Devenport tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zach Hauser and Clarke tacked on another conversion run.
But Cedarburg added the final punctuation mark with 4:41 to play when Jonathan Stiever scored on a 4-yard run.
The Bulldogsâ€™ balanced attack was led by running back Hudson Walton, who rushed for 125 yards on 20 carries. Lepak was 7-for-14 passing for 128 yards.
Cedarburg did not have a turnover.
Overshadowed by the loss was another solid ground effort by Clarke, a junior who rushed for 107 yards on 18 attempts.
Devenportâ€™s top two targets were wideout Derek Haley (two catches for 74 yards) and Hauser (four catches for 57 yards).
The Pirates have lost three straight games and five of their last six.
They will take their last shot at a victory this Friday when they conclude the season with a 7 p.m. road game against winless Grafton.