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CLASH OF THE UNDEFEATED

Ely tops the field

Wolves edge powerful North Woods 20-12 in epic regular season finale

Patrick Slack
Posted 10/20/16

COOK - Both teams were good.

The first seven weeks of the season proved that.

Just how good was the question.

With 14 combined victories between them, none of them closer than 16 points, it …

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CLASH OF THE UNDEFEATED

Ely tops the field

Wolves edge powerful North Woods 20-12 in epic regular season finale

Posted

COOK - Both teams were good.

The first seven weeks of the season proved that.

Just how good was the question.

With 14 combined victories between them, none of them closer than 16 points, it was hard to tell what exactly would happen when Ely and North Woods were confronted with an evenly-matched foe.

On Wednesday, it was a heavyweight clash that did not disappoint.

Big passes, key turnovers, constant shifts in momentum and countless big plays were all on display.

And don't forget, there is a great chance in two weeks they will square off again for a chance to go to state.

On this night, it was Ely finding a way past host North Woods 20-12 to finish the regular season with an undefeated record and claim the top seed in the Section 7-Nine Man playoffs and a bye into the semifinals. North Woods will receive the second seed and host a quarterfinal game on Tuesday.

North Woods opened the game on fire, marching downfield via a crushing ground attack before capping the drive through the air on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Tate Olson to George Bibeau to go ahead 6-0.

Ely responded calmly, pushing the ball right back and knotting the score at 6-6 on a 4-yard Evan Omerza touchdown run.

The Wolves would then force a three-and-out and move back into the redzone. However, the game would remain tied after a penalty nullified a touchdown, then North Woods' Cade Goggleye intercepted a pass in the endzone.

Wit the momentum seesaw tilted back in their direction, the Grizzlies regained a 12-6 lead as Olson withstood an all-out blitz and found Bibeau over the middle for another touchdown from 19 yards out.

Key penalties would highlight the next possession, as the Wolves once again had a score wiped off the board, bringing up 3rd-and-18 at the 20. But a roughing the passer flag gave Ely's drive new life and Blaise Lah capitalized on a powerful 10-yard touchdown run up the middle.

Carter Gaulke snuck in the two-point conversion, giving Ely a 14-12 edge with four minutes left in the first half.

Both teams would have one more opportunity before halftime fall short. Ely was snuffed out by a second Goggleye interception in the endzone, while North Woods was done in by the clock after a 48-yard completion to Bibeau and Mike Buchanan run to the 20 took a moment too long to snap one more play.

The action would not drop off in the second half.

Ely drove to the 4-yard line on the opening drive of the third quarter, but after a holding penalty negated yet another score, had a fourth-and-goal pass from the 6 batted away by Bibeau.

The two teams would then trade punts and lose a combined three fumbles late in the quarter, with recoveries made by Ely's Izaak Nosbisch and Matt Gerzin and North Woods' Brendan Parson.

Ely would finally be able to cash in again early in the fourth quarter, with Josh Heiman following consecutive North Woods penalties with a 2-yard touchdown rush.

The Grizzlies would manage a stop on the ensuing two-point conversion, though, keeping it a one-possession game at 20-12.

North Woods was unable to gain any yardage on its next drive, punting the ball back to Ely with 8:11 remaining at its own 30.

That would prove to be the last time the Grizzlies would get the ball, as the Wolves drained the remainder of the clock, and all three of North Woods' timeouts, by reeling off a 17-play drive to close the contest.

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