Panthers advance following Level 3 WIAA Division 1 playoff game
By Sherry Houben
The SPASH Panthers were ready for battle when they showed up at No. 1 seed Bay Port’s home turf on an unusually warm Friday, Nov. 4.
This was a “win or go home” playoff game against a team that — more often than not this season — has destroyed every opponent it faced.
The game started out a little worrisome for Panther fans as Bay Port scored a quick TD, but the Pirates missed the extra point. Bay Port would score again with just under five minutes left in the first quarter, giving the Pirates a 13-0 advantage.
Moments later, the Panther’s offensive showed up in a determined fashion. Out of nowhere, the Panthers’ Colton Kizewski appeared from underneath a pile of players after a pass from QB Rosenthal, heading for the end zone from 62 yards out. SPASH scored and added the extra point, putting the game at 13-7 at the end of the first quarter.
As the second quarter got underway, SPASH kicker Joey Dorgan booted a field goal from the 11 yard line after a failed third down attempt. Bay Port answered right back with a TD and extra point with just over seven minutes left in the half. Just before the half, Kizewski again would show up with the ball, charging for the end zone, scoring with a 65-yard run. The extra point was good, ending the first half at 20-17.
The second half of the game will go down in playoff history, as the lead was back and forth the whole way. SPASH took their first lead in the third quarter, when Kizewski scored again, putting the Panthers up 24-20. The action continued as fans on both sides of the field were watching this roller coaster of emotion.
With just over two minutes left in third, Bay Port scored again, regaining a lead of 27-24. SPASH chose to run for it on a fourth down with only second left in the third. Senior standout Gus Turner-Zick did not disappoint, and he ran 37 yards to score, bringing the Panthers back into the lead by 31-27.
Bay Port started the fourth quarter with the ball finding a receiver in the end zone, turning the tables again at 34-31. But on the next drive, SPASH scored again, with again, Dorgan again kicking in the extra point to tie the game.
The remainder of the game was filled with the drama, of the SPASH defense held Bay Port from getting into a scoring position. The Pirates came close, but botched a play on a forth down with only 55 seconds on the board.
SPASH took back the ball with less than a minute to score. Turner-Zick and Kizewski managed the clock, taking the ball to the 35 yard line; the crowd roared as Dorgan kicks the ball once again, making another field goal for the win with only 13 seconds left.
The Panthers will face Kimberly next week. The winner of that game moves on to the state championship game in Madison.