By Craig Marx, Editor
Though the game ended rather oddly, the Antigo Red Robins football team was able to hold off the Ashland Oredockers long enough in a 39-26 win on Friday night from Schofield Stadium, marking the beginning of Great Northern Conference play.
Antigo was leading 33-18 with 7:37 left in the fourth quarter following sophomore Dominic Smith’s 18-yard spin move TD, an impressive play from a running back that has stepped in to compliment Adam Schmidt and Jericho Kelly in the backfield.
Halfway through the final quarter, Oredockers quarterback Wyatt O’Bey connected with senior receiver Jake Moe for a 58-yard reception, taking the ball down to the Antigo 11-yard line. With 5:38 to go, the tandem connected once again as Moe was left uncovered in the middle of the end zone, taking the score to 33-26, still in favor of the Robins.
Only a touchdown away from Ashland tying the ball game, solid rushes by Kelly and Smith would later set up Schmidt for a one-yard touchdown plunge to help restore some insurance on the scoreboard. Leading by 13, Antigo’s defense needed to step up once more to secure the win.
While the Antigo kickoff team battled with giving Ashland a short field all evening, replacement kicker Hunter Bolson booted the ball for a touchback when it was needed most. At the one minute mark of the fourth quarter, the Robins looked to have the game in the bag, but a long completion from O’Bey to Zachary Coffland set up the Oredockers at the Antigo 28-yard line.
The Robins would be called on a facemask penalty, moving the ball down inside the Antigo red zone. Following a sack by Hunter Kirsch with 24 seconds remaining, O’Bey would be picked off by Luke Berner on a batted ball in the end zone.
As Berner returned the game-sealing pick past midfield, a blocking Antigo player took out an attempting Ashland tackler, causing the Oredocker to remain on the ground past the final whistle of the game. The player eventually got up and returned to the Ashland bench, but both teams waited tensely as the postgame conference of referees and coaches took place. No immediate penalties or decisions were assessed*.
Quarterback Matt Winter got the Robins on the board first with a 30-yard rushing TD coming off of some fancy footwork on a scramble, finding no one open downfield. The junior QB would finish his night with seven carries for 99 yards with two TDs, while the passing game featured just one completion of 48 yards to Bolson.
Kelly had a great night on the ground, posting 161 yards and a touchdown, while Schmidt finished with 11 touches for 69 yards. Antigo ended the night with 365 rushing yards.
O’Bey finished the night 17 for 24 for 283 passing yards, the vast majority of went to Moe with 128 receiving yards and a TD. Antigo’s defense held steadfast containing the ground game, allowing just 33 rushing yards all evening.
The win puts Antigo at 2-2 overall for the 2016 season and 1-0 in the GNC, but also marks a different trend than recent encounters with Ashland. Winning by 13 this past Friday, the Robins had outscored the Oredockers by an average of 37 points in the two team’s previous five meetings. The Robins were without key players this week, however, due to various injuries.
Antigo will travel to Mosinee this coming Friday, taking on the Indians at 7 p.m.
*From the conferences themselves, it looks to be most likely just a personal foul unnecessary roughness penalty to go on record. As soon as that is confirmed, we will update the story.