Football: Bonduel falters at home vs. Amherst

Turnovers hold Bears back
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

BONDUEL — The Bonduel High School football team turned the ball over four times and dropped a 35-7 final to Amherst in Central Wisconsin Conference-Large Division play on Friday.

The Bears’ offense put together several promising drives against the Falcons, who are ranked second in Division 5 of the poll. But turnovers kept the hosts off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter. Bonduel turned the ball over three times in the first half, allowing Amherst to take a 28-0 lead into halftime.

“They’re a really good defense. They put us in some situations where we had to run some things that maybe we didn’t want to run,” said Bonduel coach James Westrich. “They were very disciplined, so we had to take what they gave us, and sometimes we didn’t do that. A credit to them; they capitalized on it.”

Bonduel opened the contest with the football and had good starting field position after a long kickoff return from senior Alex Garside. The Bears ended up punting after Amherst stuffed a trio of run plays.

The Bears’ defense returned the favor, forcing Amherst’s offense to go three-and-out.

Bonduel’s first turnover came on the ensuing possession, as Amherst picked off a pass on third down.

The Falcons started at the Bears’ 43-yard line after the return. The visitors slowly worked the ball down the field before grabbing the lead on a 1-yard touchdown run.

Bonduel looked to be on its way to tying the game after a first-down run from senior Cole Letter and then a first-down pass from Letter to senior Dylan Burch, but the drive eventually stalled and the hosts had to punt.

Amherst extended its lead by putting together an 84-yard touchdown drive, and then its defense picked off another pass and returned it 60 yards for another score that made it 21-0.

The Bears’ next possession also ended in a turnover, as the team fumbled on the second play, setting up a short field for the Falcons. Amherst took advantage, scoring two plays later.

“I’m incredibly proud of our guys. My 11 came out, and every single one of them did their job. I myself need to study film a little more and have better decision-making skills. I take credit for those turnovers,” said Letter, the Bears’ quarterback. “We played a good football team, and that’s just how the dice roll sometimes. We can’t make mistakes like that.”

Facing a 28-point deficit going into the second half, Bonduel came out with a new attitude and kept the contest from reaching the 35-point differential that would have started the running clock.

The Bears forced the Falcons into three-and-outs on the first two possessions of the half.

Bonduel’s offense put together a strong drive on its second possession of the half, sparked by a pass from Letter to junior Isaac Banker. But the drive eventually ended after the team failed to convert on fourth down.

The Bears’ defense continued to play well, forcing and recovering a fumble to get the ball back. But Bonduel gave it right back, throwing its third interception of the game.

Junior Logan Majewski helped the Bears get revenge, picking off an Amherst pass on third down.

The takeaway helped set up Bonduel’s lone touchdown drive, as the offense drove 63 yards, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Letter to Burch.

Letter converted on a fourth-down run to keep the drive alive before junior Max Sokolski and Majewski each had first-down runs. Facing third-and-nine from the 10, Letter avoided the Amherst pass rush before finding Burch in the end zone for the score.

“We’re always there for each other. We always praise to each other that ‘we’ is greater than ‘me.’ We’re always a team and always together, and that’s how it’s been for us this entire season,” said Burch on what helped the team keep fighting in the second half.

Trying to run out the rest of the clock, Amherst tacked on a late score to seal its win.

Letter finished with 94 passing yards, with Banker hauling in three passes for 51 yards. Letter, Banker and Sokolski each had a tackle for loss for the Bears on defense.

Bonduel slipped to 4-2 overall and 2-2 in the CWC-Large. The Bears will look to bounce back when traveling to take on Shiocton on Friday.

Amherst 7 21 0 7

Bonduel 0 0 0 7

First quarter

A: Aidan Elwood 1-yard run (Josh Bandy kick), 5:15

Second quarter

A: Bryan Groshek 20-yard run (Bandy kick), 7:56

A: Groshek 58-yard interception return (Bandy kick), 5:05

A: Carmelo Aleman 38-yard pass from Lincoln Cullen (Bandy kick), 4:05

Fourth quarter

B: Dylan Burch 10-yard pass from Cole Letter (Logan Guenterberg kick), 4:06

A: Bandy 45-yard run (Bandy kick), 0:34