L-C’s unbeaten run comes to an end at Notre Dame
GREEN BAY – The Luxemburg-Casco football team’s unbeaten run hit a roadblock on Nov. 4.
The Spartans’ season came to an end with a 21-10 loss at Green Bay Notre Dame in a WIAA Division 3 state quarterfinal game.
L-C (11-1) held the defending D3 state champion to a season-low 77 rushing yards but had to settle for field-goal attempts on two of its three trips inside the Notre Dame 20-yard line that proved to be the difference.
“We just didn’t have it down the stretch, unfortunately,” said L-C coach Dillon Maney, whose team was trying to reach the state semifinals for the first time since 1989. “Tip your hat to them. That’s a good football team. We knew they were, and we were hoping we were even with them. They just made a couple more plays than we did down the stretch.”
The Spartans were held to season-lows for points and rushing yards (185) in allowing Notre Dame (11-1) to even the all-time playoff series to 3-3.
After falling behind 14-0, L-C became the first team to score points against the Tritons in the third quarter this season when junior Austin Tlachac scored a 15-yard touchdown on a jet sweep with 3 minutes, 38 seconds remaining in the frame.
L-C then forced a Notre Dame punt following a three-and-out possession and moved the ball to the Tritons’ 11 before having to settle for a 28-yard field goal by senior Sam Larson with 8:37 left in the game to close the gap to 14-10.
Notre Dame responded with a 10-play, 69-yard scoring drive, which was sparked by a 32-yard completion by senior quarterback Johnny Santaga to senior running back Nate Ihlenfeldt on the second play to move the ball to the L-C 35.
It was Ihlenfeldt’s only catch of the game, which saw the Spartans hold the Fox River Classic Conference offensive player of the year to 94 rushing yards, which was his second-lowest total of the season.
“Ihlenfeldt made that great catch down the sideline,” Maney said. “That was kind of the backbreaker for us that set up that last score.”
Ihlenfeldt all but put the game away with a 2-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play with 3 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the game.
Despite being sacked three times, Santaga was sharp through the air in completing 10 of 17 passes for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
Notre Dame outgained L-C in offensive yards (304-254). The teams exchanged fumble recoveries at one point in the first half and the Tritons came up with another after going up 21-10 at the end of the game.
Senior Dalton Smerchek led the L-C defense with six tackles, while senior Kyle Routhieaux and sophomore Nathan Coisman each had 5½ tackles. Coisman accounted for one of three forced fumbles and the only recovery for the Spartans.
Offensively, Tlachac finished with 55 rushing yards in addition to making three receptions for 40 yards to lead L-C. Senior quarterback Jon Deprey threw for 57 yards and rushed for 83 yards, which was his lowest-rushing total since being held to 75 yards in a double overtime win at Seymour on Sept. 2.
Deprey, the North Eastern Conference offensive player of the year, appeared to get the Spartans on the scoreboard first with a nifty 90-yard scamper on the first play of the second quarter.
However, an illegal block nullified the big play.
“This was a tough football game,” Notre Dame coach John Nowak said. “I don’t think anybody gave Luxemburg credit all year. They would have been a good football team in any conference. This is a tough win for us.”
It was an equally tough loss for L-C, which won the NEC for its first conference title since 2005 this season and advanced to the state quarterfinals for the second time in three years.
The Spartans had 15 seniors on this year’s team, including Deprey, Routhieaux, Smerchek, Larson, Derek Abts, Chance Junio, Logan Rueckl, Nathan Giachino, Travis Kinnard, Jordan Jorgensen, Jordan Miller, Trevor VandenBush, Phil Rasmussen, Brock Behnke and Mitchell Ronsman.
“We told them it’s about what you learn in a year,” Maney said. “Football is a small part of these kids’ lives, and we hope they can take some things from football and apply them to their lives and be successful young men. I don’t have any questions that that’s what will happen with these boys.”
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Luxemburg-Casco 0 0 7 3-10
Notre Dame 0 7 7 7-21
ND –Quinn Snyder 38 pass from Johnny Santaga (Santaga kick)
ND-Devin Cribben 7 pass from Santaga (Santaga kick)
L-C-Austin Tlachac 15 run (Sam Larson kick)
L-C-Larson 28 field goal
ND-Nate Ihlenfeldt 2 run (Santaga kick)
Rushing: L-C: Jon Deprey 19-83; ND: Nate Ihlenfeldt 24-94.
Passing: L-C: Deprey 4-10-0-57; ND: Johnny Santaga 10-17-0-227.
Receiving: L-C: Tlachac 3-40; ND: Ryan O’Connell 4-84.
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: L-C's unbeaten run comes to an end at Notre Dame