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Football: Defense saves Spartans at B-W

Somerset quarterback Bennett Baillargeon gets set to hand the ball to fullback Jack Peterson during the second half of last Friday's win at Baldwin-Woodville. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The Somerset defense found a way to win the game on Friday.

With Somerset's offense bogged down in the muck and rain at Baldwin-Woodville on Friday, Oct. 6 the Somerset defense came up with the game-winning touchdown as the Spartans pulled out an emotional 8-7 win over the Blackhawks.

The win was the second straight for the Spartans. Somerset ends its 2017 season this Friday with a home game against St. Croix Central. Somerset and Central played a number of bitterly fought games over the past decade. While Somerset is playing for pride, Central could possibly come out of Friday with a share of the Middle Border Conference title. The Spartans are hoping to end those hopes.

"If you pop Central, it would speak volumes about the kids you're working with," said Somerset coach Bruce Larson. "How do you measure how hungry somebody is? After the effort we gave (at Baldwin-Woodville), I think we'll get another good one."

The Spartan defense came up with the pivotal play with five minutes remaining in the game. B-W had the ball on its own 19, on a third-and-long situation. Somerset defensive coordinator Bob Seibel yelled out "quarterback draw" just before the ball was snapped and he appeared to have the play diagnosed perfectly. Somerset linebackers Tanner Miller and Jake Peterson both blitzed, meeting at quarterback Alex Bishop before he could begin moving forward. Miller arrived first, with the contact causing Bishop to lose his grip on the slippery ball. Peterson grabbed the ball as Bishop searched for the handle, and Peterson raced 15 yards to the end zone for the touchdown.

There was even more drama on Somerset's attempt for the two-point conversion. As Somerset set up for the play, B-W called a timeout. Somerset came out of the timeout and had quarterback Bennett Baillargeon try to run around left end. In the rain and mass of bodies, Baillargeon squirted through and landed on the goal line. There was no call from the officials, and the men in stripes huddled for more than a minute before making the call. That only added to the drama of the moment, and when the head official signalled that the attempt was good, bedlam broke out on the Somerset sideline.

The score came with 5:07 left, leaving B-W ample time to drive downfield. The Blackhawks did get one first down. But when the Blackhawks tried a deep pass, Somerset safety Will Piletich grabbed the pass and returned it all the way to the Blackhawk 30. The Spartans were able to run out the rest of the clock.

This was Piletich's second interception of the game. Coach Larson said he was one of several Spartans who played strong games. He pointed to Miller, Peterson, Zach Schmidt and Justin Rivard as players who made solid contributions on both sides of the ball. Larson said the win, and the way the Spartans kept fighting, shows the team's character.

"That's the biggest thing you take from the whole thing. It says a lot about the type of kids you're dealing with," Larson said.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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