GRANTSBURG – The Grantsburg football team has more of a kick when it wins.
On Friday, the Pirates got the kicks that earned the win.
After losing three consecutive games by double-digit margins, the Pirates got a pair of field goals from Jared VanWatermuelen, including one in the final seconds to earn a 13-12 win over Clear Lake and halt their skid. VanWatermuelen’s 27-yard kick late in the fourth quarter spelled the first win of September and some momentum heading into this Friday’s game at Flambeau.
“It was a huge kick by Jared to give us a win we desperately needed after losing three straight,” Grantsburg coach Adam Hale said. “It was definitely a big moment and his biggest kick since he made the kick to clinch the win over Regis last year in the Level 3 (playoff) game.”
In addition to ending a losing streak, the game-winning kick also countered a Clear Lake run game that totaled 260 yards, nearly outgaining the entire Grantsburg offense. And it was that run attack that gave the Warriors the game’s first lead.
Following a scoreless first quarter, Clear Lake got on the board by capping a scoring drive with a 1-yard touchdown from Ivan Ruble. But importantly, the Pirates were able to stop the 2-point conversion attempt and keep the score at 6-0. It was the first of two important conversion stops they made in the game.
“We gave ourselves a lot of trouble with some mental mistakes and lack of execution,” Hale said. “We need to get back at it on Monday and cleanup some simple things that we should be better at by now.”
The Pirates got on the board in the first half, but they didn’t get in the end zone.
With less than four minutes remaining in the half, VanWatermuelen kicked a 32-yard field goal to cut Clear Lake’s lead in half at 6-3. They looked to enter halftime trailing by just three points, but some of those mistakes allowed the Warriors to increase their lead before the break.
Angel Guillen scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with less than a minute remaining in the half to put Clear Lake up 12-3, but the second of two important 2-point conversion stops kept the Pirates within nine points and that would make a difference in the second half.
While Grantsburg was able to reduce the deficit in the third quarter, its defense prevented the Warriors from increasing it. Hale said halftime game-planning made a difference in dwindling Clear Lake’s success on offense.
“In the first half we got out of position a couple times and took some bad angles to give-up long runs,” Hale said. “We did a good job in the red zone and got a couple 4th-down stops that were big.”
Levi Miller pulled the Pirates to within two points with a 1-yard touchdown run with just over seven minutes remaining in the third quarter and the VanWatermuelen extra point ensured a field goal would win the game, rather than potentially tie it.
But, most of the fourth quarter went by without another score from Grantsburg, until the final drive of regulation. The Pirates got the ball inside the Clear Lake 20-yard line and with just five seconds remaining, VanWatermuelen delivered the game-winning kick to improve the team’s record to 2-3.
Sterling McKinley completed 10 of his 24 pass attempts for 109 yards in the game; Isaac Quimby led the ground game with 107 yards on 26 carries and Miller had 45 yards receiving with 33 yards rushing.
Isaac Lee and Carter Johnson had 10 tackles each on defense; Dane Jensen had a 4th-down interception to stop a Clear Lake drive and Cameron Denn forced a fumble that ended another.
Ruble finished with 178 yards on 26 carries for Clear Lake, accounting for over half its 277 total yards in the game.
Grantsburg looks to even its record at Flambeau this Friday.
“Flambeau has struggled early in the year but like us, they play a lot of younger kids who only will improve with each week,” Hale said.