WEST?BEND - A scoreless first half for the Wolverines of West Bend-Mallard/Gilmore City Bradgate was just a bit too much to overcome Friday night. Despite a furious rally in the second half of play, the Wolverines came up a strike short in a 32-38 loss to the Eagles of Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn in Non-District action Friday. The loss gives the Wolverines a 1-1 mark as they prepare to enter the district slate this Friday against Northeast Hamilton of Blairsburg.
There was no scoring in the first quarter as the two teams took measure of each other, but MMC?drew first blood shortly after the start of the second frame off a short run for a 6-0 lead after the conversion try failed. After a three and out by the Wolverines, the Eagles drove once again and scored a second time.
Trailing 12-0, the Wolverines got a break when Nathan Grimm recovered a fumble with 5:15 to go in the half in their own territory. Quickly, quarterback Jesse Zinnel drove the Wolverines downfield, but the drive stalled, forcing a punt that rolled out-of-bounds at the Eagles one-yard stripe.
Now it was up to the defense, The purple and gold defenders stopped the Eagles on first down, and just inches from the goal line, the ball was fumbled in the end zone. Jason Zinnel jumped on the loose ball for the defensive touchdown and then caught a conversion pass from his brother to make the score 12-8 with just over 3:30 to go in the half.
The momentum didn't last long, as MMC quickly punched the ball into the end zone with just under 2:00 to go in the half after a great return to make the score 18-8. The Wolverines got the ball back, but a pass from Jesse Zinnel was picked off that would set up a 49 yard score by the Eagles to end the half with the 26-8 lead.
With a three-score deficit facing them to start the second half, the Wolverines were quickly put down by another score as MMC?hit paydirt on their first possession of the second half to make the lead 32-8.
The hard-hitting game was proving costly to the Wolverines, as linebackers Dustin Johnson and Nate Grimm were on the sidelines, forcing the reserves to step up for the purple and gold.
The Wolverines got he ball after the score and would march nearly 50 yards to score off a 19 yard strike from Jesse to Jason Zinnel. Ashton Fehr ran in the conversion to make the score 32-16 with 6:45 to go in the third stanza.
After MMC?was held to a three and out, the Wolverines struck back as Jesse Zinnel dropped a bomb into Jack Fehr's arms for a 55-yard strike and score at the 4:44 mark. Jason Zinnel caught the conversion pass to cut the Eagles' lead to 32-24 as the third frame came to a close.
MMC would see their first drive of the quarter stall out, giving the Wolverines another shot with plenty of time. The Eagles defense stepped it up, giving the Wolverines a tussle on the possession, but with just under 7:00 to go in the game, Jesse Zinnel hit his brother with a 37-yard toss to score. A conversion pass completion to Jack Fehr tied the game up at 32-32 as it looked like the Wolverines might have the magical momentum back on their side of the field.
The two teams would go on to trade possessions, but with just over a minute to go, the Eagles pulled the proverbial rabbit out of their hat and came up with a late Hail-Mary pass completion to steal the 38-32 win over the Wolverines.
The Wolverine defense would struggle against MMC, giving up 410 yards of offense. MMC?rushed for 328 yards and added 82 yards in the air for their total. WBM/GCB could only muster 79 yards on the ground off 39 rushing attempts.
Ashton Fehr would grind out 32 yards off 10 attempts. In the air, Jesse Zinnel completed 12 of 27 attempts to rack up 238 yards with two scores and one pick.
Jason Zinnel would make five catches for for 108 yards with a touchdown. Jack Fehr added five receptions for 90 yards, including his 55-yard catch for a touchdown.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jesse Zinnel led the effort with nine solo tackles and a quarterback sack. Dan Eubank would add 10 solo tackles to the effort.
Before leaving the gam, Dustin Johnson tallied 12 tackles and Aaron Montag added 11 stops.
Jason Zinnel grabbed a fumble to score a touchdown for the second time this season in the contest.
District play opens Friday night for the Wolverines when they make the roadtrip to Blairsburg to face off with Northeast Hamilton in a 7 p.m. kickoff.