Pirates’ fourth-quarter woes help Cedarburg pull away for North Shore Conference win
A fourth-quarter bugaboo took its toll again on the Port Washington football team.
As was the case in a recent loss to top-ranked Homestead, the Pirates stayed with favored Cedarburg last Friday night before fading to a 34-20 defeat in North Shore Conference play.
Trailing by only 17-14, Port had a chance to pull even when it drove to the Bulldogs’ 15 late in the third quarter. But after Jake Krapfl’s 32-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left, Cedarburg took charge for good.
The Bulldogs mounted an 80-yard, 10-play march, capped by Jonathan Stiever’s 14-yard touchdown catch. The scoring strike from quarterback Mike Mojica was the only pass of the drive and put Cedarburg up, 24-14.
After intercepting passes on Port’s next two possessions, Cedarburg ended the suspense by tacking on a field goal by Trevor Tegtmeier and a 25-yard touchdown run by Hudson Walton.
“We just ran out of gas in the fourth quarter. It’s something we’ve got to figure out,” said Port coach John Bunyan, whose team has struggled with a lack of depth against two-platoon foes.
“It’s not like our kids aren’t in shape, but playing four quarters against physical teams is tough. We’ve got to find a way to finish games.”
Miscues were an equally big factor in the loss. Quarterback Ben Schueller had two fourth-quarter passes deflected, leading to picks by Cole Blodgett and Nick Russo.
“Those turnovers were really big. We gave them a short field each time,” Bunyan said.
The Pirates had limited success against Cedarburg’s scrappy defense, collecting only 226 total yards.
Senior halfback Marty Franzkowiak rushed for 93 yards on 10 carries, but Port managed just 138 ground yards on 35 attempts.
Schueller was 4-for-16 passing for 88 yards and two touchdowns. After a 28-yard scoring connection with tight end Aidan Wojciechowski in the second quarter, the junior tossed a 32-yard touchdown strike to Franzkowiak in the final minute.
“Marty has been giving us a big lift,” Bunyan said. “He’s got great speed and is a real breakaway threat for us.”
However, Cedarburg’s defensive scheme took away the Pirates’ inside running game and double-teamed receiver Darius Will, their best deep threat. Will was limited to two catches for 28 yards.
Even so, the Pirates, who fell to 1-1 in the conference, stayed in contention much of the night.
Countering a first-quarter field goal by Tegtmeier, Port took a 7-3 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run by Tom Rose early in the second period.
After Stiever made the first of his two touchdown catches to give the Bulldogs the lead, the Pirates responded with the Schueller-to-Wojciechowski score and held a 14-10 edge with 2:46 left in the half.
The seesaw continued, with Cedarburg (2-0) regaining the lead for good on an 8-yard touchdown run by Walton with 20 seconds remaining.
Walton, one of the area’s top backs, again excelled as the Bulldogs’ workhorse. The senior had 27 carries for 189 of his team’s 263 rushing yards.
“He’s a tough back,” Bunyan said of Walton. “We did a good job on him early in the game, but they’ve got a good blocking scheme that’s hard to defense.”
In addition to their spirited play, the Pirates were aided by Cedarburg penalties. The Bulldogs were flagged 14 times for 99 yards, including three pass-interference calls that kept Port drives alive.
“We had some chances. We played well until the fourth quarter,” Bunyan said. “We feel good about what we’re trying to do, but just have to execute for four quarters.”
The Pirates will try to regroup this Friday, when they resume NSC play with a 7 p.m. road game against Milwaukee Lutheran.
Image Information: PORT WASHINGTON QUARTERBACK Ben Schueller tried to escape the grip of a Cedarburg defender during Friday’s North Shore Conference game. Photo by Sam Arendt