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Somerset holds off New Richmond in football gem, 34-27

In the history of the Somerset-New Richmond football rivalry, Friday's game may rank as the most entertaining and most closely played.

Somerset needed an interception by Max Praschak at the goal line on the final play from scrimmage to preserve a 34-27 win over New Richmond. With the win, Somerset stands alone at the top of the Middle Border Conference standings with a 4-0 record. The win also locks Somerset into a berth in the WIAA state football playoffs, the 13th straight year that Somerset has qualified for the playoffs.

The loss is the first for New Richmond in MBC action and the Tigers are now tied with Ellsworth and Osceola for second place with 3-1 records. New Richmond plays at Ellsworth next Friday.

Friday's game was New Richmond's Homecoming contest and the two rivals put on an incredible show for a crowd that was one of the largest in New Richmond in the past decade.

The game opened with Somerset driving 92 yards for a touchdown. The score came on the first of many big plays in the game, with Somerset halfback Heaven Hunt going 55 yards on a sweep for the touchdown. The Tigers answered that score with a big play of their own, a 49-yard scoring pass from quarterback Brady Maus to Dylan Dowd.

Somerset answered right back, with quarterback Reed Baillargeon going 59 yards for a touchdown in the opening minute of the second quarter. The Tigers muffed the ensuing kickoff and Somerset recovered at the New Richmond 14. Somerset fullback Max Praschak quickly converted the turnover into points, on an 8-yard burst up the middle that made Somerset's lead 21-7.

New Richmond didn't back down. The Tigers drove 74 yards late in the second quarter, with Maus scoring on a quarterback sneak with 16 seconds left in the half.

The Tigers recovered a fumble early in the third quarter. Relying almost exclusively on passing, the Tigers drove 60 yards for the tying socre, which came on a 25-yard pass from Maus to Austin Juhl, tying the score.

New Richmond kept Praschak bottled up until the final minute of the third quarter. He broke away for a 68-yard touchdown that put Somerset in front 28-21.

The Tigers answered right away. Maus found Juhl open again, this time for 31 yards. The Tigers missed the extra point, leaving Somerset ahead 28-27.

Somerset had a chance to put the game away when quarterback Max Becher scored on a sneak with 2:57 left in the game. The Spartans went for the two-point conversion, but the run was stopped, leaving the margin at 34-27.

The Tigers went for one last drive, getting the ball to the Spartan 17. Maus then tried for a touchdown pass, but Praschak intercepted the pass at the goal line.

In other MBC games on Friday, Osceola rolled past Prescott 36-0 and Ellsworth routed Baldwin-Woodville 35-0. Amery and Durand are scheduled to play on Saturday.

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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