Reedsburg overpowers Jefferson
Instead, Reedsburg did most of the pushing, physically overpowering a tenacious Jefferson squad for a 27-14 victory in the WIAA Division 3 quarterfinals.
“Without a doubt,” Jefferson coach Steve Gee said when asked if Reedsburg was the best team the Eagles played in their 10-2 season, which produced a Rock Valley North co-championship.
Reedsburg (9-3), which lost in the Division 3 state title game last season by one point, goes on to play Waukesha Memorial (9-3) in semifinal game at 1 p.m. Saturday at Middleton. Jefferson wraps up the season having reached its highest playoff level since 1998.
Reedsburg’s size was certainly imposing on a visual level, but Jefferson still went into the game thinking it could do what it had done all season—churn out big chunks of yards from its run-based option attack.
The first series of the game made it clear that that wasn’t going to be the case.
After Pete Linse picked up nine yards on first down, the Eagles were unable to gain a yard on their next two plays, and a short punt put the Beavers in excellent field position. Four plays later, Reedsburg quarterback Chad Mazur ripped off a 48-yard touchdown run, and the Eagles never really got off the ropes after that.
In the first half, Jefferson went three-and-out three times, turned it over on downs once and picked up just two first downs.
“Our guys are used to getting the ball on the kickoff and scoring on the opening drive,” Gee said. “We really never got anything going.
“This is not a game that maybe my guys were mentally ready for,” he said. “Maybe I didn’t talk up the fact that maybe they’d be a little bit bigger and stronger than us.
“We just focused on doing our fundamentals, but they were bigger and stronger than us, and it showed.”
Still, Jefferson trailed only 14-0 at halftime. Then, when Reedsburg’s Matt Lennon (14 carries, 162 yards) coughed up a fumble at the Jefferson 1-yard line that was recovered by Tom Scherer midway through the third quarter, and the Eagles advanced to the Beavers’ 41, it looked like Jefferson just might punch its way off the ropes.
But on a play-action pass, Jefferson quarterback Lucas Smillie underthrew Mike Stellmacher deep down the middle, and Grant Rudolph made a leaping interception at the 5. Five plays later, Lennon atoned for his fumble by taking a counter off right tackle 75 yards for a momentum-deflating touchdown and a 21-0 lead.
“I think as a team we believe that we can win from any point in the game,” said Linse, the senior running back who had an outstanding season but was held to 53 yards on 15 carries Saturday. “It just didn’t work out that way.”
Jefferson did get within 21-7 with 8:07 left in the game on a 16-yard run by Matt Vogel, a score that was set up by Smillie’s 27-yard scamper on a fake punt. But the Eagles’ slim hopes were snuffed out when Rudolph recovered the ensuing onside kick.
“I love all these guys, and I wouldn’t want to play the game with anyone else,” said an emotional Linse. “It’s been a great season.”
REEDSBURG 27, JEFFERSON 14
Reedsburg 7 7 7 6—27
Jefferson 0 0 0 14—14
Scoring summary: R—Chad Mazur, 48 run (Michael Hayes kick). R—Ryan Matthews, 1 run (Hayes kick). R—Matt Lennon, 75 run (Hayes kick). J—Matt Vogel, 16 run (Tyler Tomczak kick). R—Lennon, 25 run (kick failed). J—Pete Linse, 2 run (Tomczak kick).
Statistics: First downs—R 18, J 11. Rushing—R 47-319, J 39-207. Yards passing—R 52, J 30. Passes—R 3-4-0, 3-10-1. Fumbles—R 3-2, J 0-0. Penalties—R 4-28, J 2-19.