Bluejay football pulls out overtime win over Hodags
The Bluejay gridiron gang had their fair share of struggles this season, coming into Friday’s game sitting with a record of 1-6, including a less than ideal 1-3 Great Northern Conference (GNC) record. In the Friday, Oct. 11 match up the Jays would look to change that, as they faced off with the Rhinelander Hodags, who sat at 2-2 in conference play. It was a dogfight between the two teams, however Merrill came out victorious, topping the hodags by a final score of 27-21.
Rhinelander appeared to be running away with the game, scoring the first 13 points unanswered. Rhinelander’s Drake Martin punched in a seven-yard run to give the Hodags a 7-0 lead with 7:21 remaining in the first quarter. A 46-yard hook up between Hodag receiver Peyton Erikson and quarterback Quinn Lamers, put Rhinelander ahead 13-0.
Despite being in a hole, Merrill quarterback Caleb DeJong would not be denied, driving the ball down the field and capping it off with a four-yard touchdown run to bring the Jays within a touchdown.
Merrill would head into the locker room trailing 13-7, however would come back out firing on all cylinders.
DeJong would put together another nice drive and seal it with a one-yard plunge into the endzone, giving Merrill the slight 14-13 lead.
With only 2:40 remaining in the game, DeJong would punch the ball into the endzone one last time to boost Merrill’s lead to 21-13.
Just when it appeared as if the Jays had the game under wraps, a Rhinelander touchdown and two-point conversion tied the game in the final 30 seconds, sending the game to overtime.
With both teams coming up short on their first drives of OT, Merrill assembled a nice drive and sewed up the OT win on the heels of junior fullback Eddie Collinsworth, from a yard out; 27-21.
Caleb DeJong paved the way for the Merrill offense, totaling 161 rushing yards on 26 attempts, finding his way to the promised land three times. Eddie Collinsworth would do the rest, rushing for 36 yards on 15 attempts and a touchdown.
The Merrill defense was suffocating in Friday’s contest, with Mason Vandervelde leading the attack with nine tackles. Collinsworth totalled eight tackles with one for a loss. Caleb Timm, Zach Iribarren and Dustin Dengel each ended the night with seven tackles, including four tackles for loss courtesy of Dengel.
The Jays will tie up their season Friday night, when they play host to Medford.
The Raiders currently sit comfortably atop the Great Northern Conference (GNC) with a flawless record across the board at 8-0 (5-0/GNC). A win for Merrill would mean the Jays breaking even in GNC play at 3-3. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night, at Jay Stadium.