Raiders too much for Bears in opener

Weier passes for 142 yards, run game held to 53 yards in 24-12 loss
Luke Reimer

Bonduel senior quarterback Noah Weier passed for 142 yards and one touchdown as the Bears dropped its Aug. 18 season opener, 24-12, to the Two Rivers Raiders in Two Rivers.

The Bears are looking to bounce back from a second round playoff exit last year, but found itself against a team in a similar situation, as Two Rivers lost to Catholic Memorial in the fourth round of the playoffs last season.

While Weier was able to find success through the air, the same could not be said about the run game, as Bonduel recorded just 53 total rushing yards. The stagnant offense proved similar for both teams as the first seven minutes of the game consisted of negative plays, penalties and punts.

The Bears finally broke the tie with just under four minutes remaining in the first quarter, after Weier connected with junior Colin Fischer for a 13-yard touchdown. Chaos ensued on the extra point attempt though, as a mishandled snap led to a completed pass which would have been a two-point conversion, but was flagged for an illegal man down field. Moving back five yards, Bonduel ran a passing play, which was called for defensive pass interference. The Bears then went back and attempted a field goal for an extra point, but the kick was missed.

“My wide receivers are good,” said Weier talking about the successful drive. “They put a lot of work in this off-season. The yards after catch were good tonight, I mean the smallest dude on the field — junior Cade Johnson — put his shoulder down on the second play. That mentality is going to carry us far this year.”

Two Rivers immediately responded on its next drive, as Raiders seniors quarterback Justin Klinkner scored a one-yard rushing touchdown, which was followed by a completed extra point to give the Raiders a 7-6 lead early in the second quarter. During the drive, the Raiders were faced with a second and long before Klinkner connected with senior tight end DeAndre McPherson for 35 yards.

Bonduel then went three-and-out on its next drive as an illegal motion on third-and-one was followed by and incomplete pass from Weier. On the ensuing drive, Two Rivers marched down the field on the back of its run-game, culminating in a seven-yard rushing touchdown from senior running back Chase Matthias to give the Raiders a 14-6 lead with 7:22 left in the second quarter.

Bonduel answered with a glimpse of the run game, as junior Dylan Hilsberg opened the drive with a 13-yard rush. That was followed one play later with a nine-yard reception from Weier to Fischer. Johnson followed Fischer up with a reception of his own, this time for 10 yards. The pass game continued to thrive during the drive as senior Owen Springborn recorded a 17-yard reception on second and short.

Two plays later, the Bears were faced with a second and seven from the Raiders’ 12-yard line. Weier took the snap and rolled to the left-side of the field after the pocket collapsed. From there, he evaded defenders and cut back to the right, before connecting with a receiver in the end zone. The would-be touchdown was wiped away by another illegal man down field penalty.

A delay of game and false start later, Bonduel now found itself faced with a second and 22 from the Raiders’ 29-yard line. An incompletion and a Springborn eight-yard reception later, Weier’s fourth down pass was incomplete, and the Raiders took back over from its 18-yard line with just over two minutes remaining in the half. The Raiders once again marched down the field, with 45 yards coming on a pass completion from Klinkner to Matthias. Faced with a fourth and goal from the nine with nine seconds remaining, Two Rivers opted for a field goal.

The Bears went into halftime down 17-6.

The Raiders opened halftime throwing the ball again — including a 29-yard reception from Matthias — quickly marching down to Bonduel’s 29-yard line. On a fourth and four, Klinkner attempted a slip screen, which was intercepted by Hilsberg and ran back 72 yards for a touchdown. An incomplete pass on the two-point try resulted in a 17-12 deficit for the Bears.

“I saw (Matthias) roll out and saw the quarterback looking at him,” said Hilsberg of his big play. “As soon as I saw the quarterback look at him, I stepped up and grabbed it and ran as fast I could.”

Two Rivers once again rode on the back of Matthias, as he picked up three first downs on the drive and capped it off with a 23-yard touchdown reception from Klinkner, to put the Raiders back up two scores — 24-12.

That touchdown and an interception thrown by Weier in the middle of the fourth quarter proved to be the dagger for the Bears, as the rest of the game went scoreless.

Starting its season on a sore note, Bears coach James Westrich noted that there while there were mistakes made, he liked the energy and intensity of his players throughout the game.

“I thought our kids battled,” said Westrich. “We had a lot of mistakes and new that we were playing a really good football team. I like our energy, but we have a lot of mistakes that we have to clean up. It was encouraging to see how well they fought and played.”

Bonduel will continue its tough out-of-conference schedule, as the Bears take on Coleman, who beat Peshtigo 46-6 in its first game of the season.