Week 4: Orangeville vs Aquin
A battle of state-ranked unbeaten teams brought a lot of excitement on Saturday afternoon as Orangeville outlasts Aquin 34-26.
Orangeville - A day after seeing the #1 ranked team in the state go down in a lopsided loss, the #2 ranked Broncos played host to the #3 ranked Bulldogs in an NUIC affair with bragging rights and a #1 ranking on the line. And as the game wore on you could hear both sides chirping as to who wanted to be #1 more. This brought on a playoff-type like atmosphere on an unusually hot mid-September afternoon.
Aquin would win the coin toss and chose to take the ball, hoping to get on the scoreboard first, and that they did. Opening up with some runs by Evan Broge and Clay Luedeking, Aiden Wolfe would find Ollie Arndt for a big 33 yard connection to put the Dawgs in the red zone. After a couple stuffed runs by the Bronco defense, it was Wolfe airing it out again to Broge for the 13 yard score. Orangeville would come through and block the PAT kick to hold Aquin to a 6-0 lead with 8:31 to go in the first quarter.
The Broncos would waste little time to answer, as they fed their work horse Gunar Lobdell 3 times for 12 yards and picked up another 4 yards by Carson Rote before Lobdell would get the ball off right tackle, break free from one defender, push off another, and it was off to the races for an emphatic 47 yard TD run to tie the game back up. Gavin Roth would add the extra point to nudge Orangeville into the lead, 7-6 with 5:20 to play in the first quarter.
Aquin would flip the field on their next drive, but would run out of momentum at the Bronco 34 yard line and turn the ball over on downs. Two carries would push the Broncos to the 39 yard line, then Rote went to the air and found Nate Anderson down the middle of the field with the catch. Anderson would turn to leap for the ball, and then spin away from two would-be Bulldog defenders and race his way into the end zone for a 61 yard TD pass. Roth would add the PAT to give Orangeville a 14-6 lead with 1:29 remaining in the first quarter.
The defenses would tighten up in the second half, as both teams pitched shutouts to keep the score at 14-6 going into the half, but there was some excitement to close it out. Orangeville had chewed up over 6 minutes off the clock and eventually drove into the Aquin red zone with under a minute to go. Coach Meier was calling for his kicking team to set up a field goal attempt by Roth, but a flag on the play for a chop block negated that opportunity forcing the Broncos to punt.
After some clock management issues were resolved, Aquin would try to go deep, but a Wolfe pass was intercepted by Joey Thomm to close out a hard fought first half.
The defensive battle that the first half saw would turn into an offensive explosion in the second half. The Broncos would receive the kick to open it up. The Broncos would continue rushing the ball, chewing up yards in small chunks before Lobdell burst off tackle to the left and cut up field down the middle and found nothing but green grass for a 36 yard TD run. This would push Orangeville into a comfortable 20-6 lead with 8:29 to play in the third quarter.
Not to go away lightly in this Saturday matinee, the Bulldogs would put a drive together that started at their own 18 yard line. A big 42 yard pass from Wolfe to Broge would set up a 32 yard TD run by Luedeking. The 2 point try would fail, keeping Orangeville in the lead by 8 points, 20-12 with 5:57 left in the third quarter.
Just under 2 minutes later however, Lobdell would bust off another TD run from long distance, this time 43 yards out, as Orangeville had no answers for his speed on the day. After the Roth PAT was good, Orangeville extended their lead to 27-12 with 3:59 left in the third quarter.
The ensuing Aquin drive looked like an attempt of desperation, as they took to the air after they couldn't find the success on the ground of a relentless attack by the Broncos defense. Wolfe would step back to pass looking for Broge down the right sideline, but it was Rote who stepped in front of it for the Broncos and returned it to the Aquin 35 yard line.
It appeared Orangeville might put the nail in the coffin, however a botched handoff caused Lobdell to fumble the ball and Broge fell on it for the Bulldogs at their own 35 yard line.
Aquin was able to put a drive together and get to the 1 yard line after Arndt hauled in a 40 yard pass from Wolfe, but didn't have enough to stretch it into the end zone. The Bronco defense stood up Luedeking twice at the goal line before they stopped Broge on the third run of the sequence, but Broge's reach across the goal line put the TD on the board. A much needed 2 point conversion pass from Wolfe to Broge put the Bulldogs back in the game, down 27-20 with 9:41 remaining.
The Broncos would go back on the attack and grind out the clock on a drive that went 7 minutes and 6 seconds, and was capped off by a Rote QB keeper on a reverse play action for the 2 yard score. The Roth PAT kick was good as Orangeville took a 34-20 lead with 2:35 left in the game.
The game appeared to be over when Thomm picked off another Wolfe pass with 1:14 to play, but Orangeville went into victory formation as Aquin still had all 3 timeouts remaining. Failing to make a first down after getting into a 3rd and 12 situation, the Broncos turned the ball over on downs at the Aquin 18 yard line.
Having the ball with 57 seconds left in the game gave Aquin one option; go to the air. Wolfe would connect with Arndt on back to back pass plays that culminated in 13 yards, but the clock kept running as Orangeville was able to keep him in bounds on both plays. The very next play saw Wolfe connect with Arndt again on a 6 yard connection, but the ol' hook and ladder came out as Arndt lateraled the ball to Broge who took it the remaining 63 yards for the score down the right sideline. The Bulldogs would miss the 2 point try to close the gap with a 34-26 score and 15 seconds remaining.
The Bulldogs would rely on Broge for an onside kick, and he got the perfect hop on it, but Orangeville was able to get possession of the ball and fall to the ground to allow Rote to take one more knee in victory formation to finish off the game.
This was the first win for Orangeville over Aquin since the 2018 season, where the Broncos won 26-20 in week 6, which proved to be the difference in Orangeville making the playoffs and Aquin staying at home that year.
The Broncos were paced by 225 yards rushing and 3 TD's by Gunar Lobdell, who also picked up 7 tackles on defense. Carson Rote would throw for 71 yards, rush for 15 yards, had 2 total TD's, and an INT on defense. Nate Anderson picked up 61 yards receiving with a score, and helped stifle the rushing attack from the Bulldogs getting 5 tackles and a tackle for a loss. Joey Thomm added 20 yards on the ground, but led the Bronco defense with 9 tackles and those 2 timely interceptions.
For the Bulldogs, Clay Luedeking would finish with 57 yards rushing and a TD, and had 10 tackles to lead the Aquin defense. Evan Broge would finish the day with 28 yards rushing and 162 yards receiving with 3 total TD's. Aiden Wolfe went 16-30 passing for 294 yards with 2 TD's and had 7 tackles. Ollie Arndt would get 126 yards through the air. Drew Ege would finish the day with 7 tackles.
Neither team will have an easy week 5, as Orangeville (4-0) will host #10 ranked South Beloit (3-1) next Saturday at 1 pm. Aquin (3-1) will also play Saturday, as they host #1 ranked West Central (3-1) with a 1 pm kick.