By Craig Marx, Editor
The Antigo Red Robins’ defense was on the field for an exhaustingly long time on Friday night, holding out against the spread offense employed by the Mosinee Indians to capture a 22-20 win to position the Robins now at 2-0 in the Great Northern Conference.
The Antigo offense got off to a great start as Adam Schmidt ran 34 yards to the Mosinee 12-yard line, setting himself up for a later five-yard scoring rush to give the Robins a 7-0 lead with 6:13 left in the first quarter.
After the initial drive, the Robin offense stalled, but the Antigo defense was able to keep the Indians’ featured running back, Parker Samples, in check temporarily. The explosive Mosinee back got going in the second quarter, however, capping a 77-yard drive with a 15-yard TD rush up the middle to tie the game with slightly less than nine minutes remaining before halftime.
After a three-and-out from the Antigo offense, the Robins defense recovered a fumble on the Indians’ ensuing possession, falling on the ball after a bad snap was launched over the head of Mosinee’s starting quarterback Ben Vandehey. Moving the ball down the short field, Antigo play caller Matt Winter followed his blockers home to pick up a 9-yard scoring run with 36 seconds remaining in the half.
The Robins took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
Mosinee received the second half kickoff, and after converting two halfback option passes on third downs throughout the drive, came close to tying the game after a Samples’ five-yard TD run. Kicker Brandon Bernarde would miss the extra point attempt, however, allowing Antigo to hold a now one-point lead.
Schmidt continued to play amazing game and helped the Robins pick up a first down on their next possession when his helmet was ripped off on a facemask penalty that allowed Antigo to convert a 4th and 7. A later fumble by Will Dixon at the Mosinee 12-yard line would negate a red zone opportunity for the Robins, and as the third quarter expired, Antigo clung to its 14-13 lead.
With 8:27 remaining in the game, tight end Nick Bolanda fumbled the ball after a completion from Vandehey, setting up Antigo at its own 11-yard line. In a mark of redemption, Dixon took a later rush from midfield to the end 50 yards for a big time score with less than seven minutes remaining. With the QB Winter holding the ball for kicker Mitchell Wagner, who had been golden on PATs to that point, pressure on Winter forced the junior to take the ball into the end zone himself for two points.
Leading 22-13, Antigo’s defense went back into the field. A 51-yard completion from Vandehey to wide receiver Eric Soderberg set up the Indians at the Antigo 15. IUpon recovering his own fumble near the Robins’ goal line later in the drive, Mosinee’s QB Vandehey provided the Indians with a crucial score with 3:28 left in the game.
Antigo did exactly what it never wished to do on its next drive – going three and out. After a Wjnter punt to the Mosinee 22, an illegal forward pass and eventual interception sealed the game’s fate in favor of the Robins.
Schmidt finished his night with 87 yards on the ground while Dixon was close behind with 82. Junior running back Jericho Kelly had nine carries for 26 yards. Winter, while mobile, only had nine years through the air on one completion.
Mosinee racked up 304 yard of total offense on an Antigo defense that was on the field for a large chunk of the second half. Samples led the Indians with 101 yard rushing on 19 carries, but for reasons unknown was not utilized more in the second half.
The Robins have consecutive GNC wins to be proud of. Antigo will host Merrill next Saturday at Schofield Stadium beginning at 1 p.m. The game also signifies the ceremonial reunion of Antigo’s 1976 state championship team, with a banquet to follow at the Elks Club.