Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
Lakeland’s Ray Rentmeester is pushed out of bounds by an Antigo player Friday night.
Dean Hall/Lakeland Times
Lakeland’s Ray Rentmeester is pushed out of bounds by an Antigo player Friday night.
Lakeland had a 13-7 lead and the momentum after forcing an Antigo punt in the 4th quarter. Then senior Jake Rexroade muffed the punt inside the five-yard line and Red Robins senior Korbin Krueger recovered the ball in the endzone for an Antigo touchdown and everything went downhill for the T-Birds.
Antigo took full advantage by scoring three touchdowns in a span of 3:45 to run away with a 28-13 Great Northern Conference victory. It was the Red Robins’ 10th straight win over the T-Birds.
Lakeland played well in the first half at River Valley Bank Field and built a six-point lead on two touchdown passes from quarterback Michael Ouimette. Trailing 7-0, the junior found Rexroade streaking across the middle and hit him with a perfect pass. Rexroade was bumped by a defender and had to change course but found the right side of field open and scampered in for the 21-yard touchdown with 4:03 left in the opening quarter.
The T-Birds took the lead in the 2nd as Ouimette found senior receiver Ray Rentmeester for a touchdown on 4th and 7 from the Antigo 13-yard line and Lakeland led at the half 13-7. Ouimette finished 20-30 for 240 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Rexroade had eight receptions for 116 yards and a touchdown.
They held that lead into the 4th quarter until the muffed point changed the course of the game.
“It’s a heartbreaking ending that’s for sure,” Lakeland head coach Dan Barutha said. “We work with our guys on that situation. We ideally want to have the punt returner’s heels at the 10-yard line and anything over his head, let go and really force the gunners to be able to cover it and that wasn’t the case.”
Lakeland’s first possession after the muffed punt for a touchdown was short lived as Ouimette’s pass was intercepted down the right sideline by Antigo senior Eric Langseth at the Red Robins 33-yard line. The Red Robins rushing attack, which was held in check in the first half by the Lakeland defense, began imposing its will and they capped off the drive with a 38-yard touchdown run by senior Dominick Smith to give the road team a 20-13 lead with 5:24 left in the 4th.
On the ensuing kickoff return, Lakeland’s Chase Hunt fumbled as he turned upfield and the ball was recovered by Red Robins’ junior Isaac Wickershiem at the T-Birds 21-yard line. Antigo scored on the next play as Smith galloped 21 yards for the touchdown and in a span of 16 seconds, the Red Robins led 28-13 after adding the two-point conversion. Antigo rushed for 300 yards on 57 carries.
The final five minutes were marred with several unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against both teams as penalty flags were thrown all over the field by the officials. The frustration over losing the lead showed from the Lakeland players late in the game as the T-Birds were called for six of their 11 penalties in the fourth quarter.
“It’s not a representation of the program we run,” Barutha said. “At the end of the game I just told the guys, let this be a learning lesson because in life there are going to be things more important than a high school football game. You’re going to have to be able to respond to adversity whether it’s as a father, whether it’s in your marriage, whether it’s in your job, whatever it is. And you need to take this as a learning lesson moving forward.”
Lakeland (1-3, 0-2 GNC) will look for their first conference win as they travel to Mosinee (2-2, 1-1 GNC) on Friday night.