Thunder loses close game to Phantoms

By Greg Bates
ACN & Times-Press sports correspondent
After scoring on its opening drive of the game, the Seymour football team felt confident against state-ranked West De Pere.
But the Thunder were held off the scoreboard the rest of the way. The Phantoms’ two second-quarter touchdowns proved to be the difference as host West De Pere won 13-6 in a Bay Conference game on Friday, Sept. 22.
“Probably not what I would have predicted if you would have asked me what a final score was going to be,” Seymour coach Matt Molle said. “But, sometimes that’s just how it goes. That’s how that game worked out.”
Seymour’s offense had plenty of shots inside West De Pere territory, but two second-half interceptions were costly, along with some other miscues.
“We didn’t do a very good job with special teams, so field position was an issue,” Molle said. “Then some really untimely penalties. When you’re playing close games, if you get a first down and you get called for holding – let’s say you get a six-yard gain and it should be second-and-4, then all of a sudden you’re looking at first-and-20, because you got called for a hold. We just had too many of those and didn’t stay on schedule.”
The loss drops Seymour to 3-3 overall and 3-2 in the Bay Conference. West De Pere, which came in ranked No. 5 in Division 3 in the latest WisSports.net Coaches Poll, improved to 6-0 and 5-0 atop the conference standings.
Seymour had a balanced night on offense, throwing for 115 yards and running for 104. But the Thunder was just 5-for-13 on third-down attempts.
“Giving West De Pere credit where credit is due, we didn’t run our offense as well as we should have,” Molle said. “Offense is one of those tricky things — when we talked to our guys (Saturday morning after the game) and kind of watching the film afterward, it’s one of those things where you have to have 11 guys in sync. One guy not in sync can kind of put a monkey wrench in the plans.
“I thought our guys played with a lot of guts, played tough, but we needed to be a little sharper execution. The balance is fine, we need to run a few more plays and we needed to be productive.”
Defensively, Seymour held a potent West De Pere offense to 226 total yards, 189 of those coming on the ground. The Thunder really clamped down in the second half, pitching a shutout.
“We were talking after the game, I think they were 7-for-11 or 8-for-11 on third-down conversions in the first half – and that’s what they do, third-and-short because they run the ball so well – and I think they were like 1 of 8 in the second half,” Molle said. “We just didn’t give them much. We did much better on first down in the second half and we put them in distances where they weren’t comfortable. That made it tough, because they want to run the ball and they’re pretty good up front, they’re pretty physical.”
Seymour went up 6-0 in the opening quarter as running back Hunter Clark scored on a 12-yard run. Clark was the team’s leading rusher with seven carries for 51 yards.
West De Pere grabbed the lead for good on a 5-yard touchdown run by Austin Beaumier, who finished the night with 109 yards on 30 attempts.
Seymour tried to run out the first-half clock, but had to punt with under two minutes remaining. The Thunder was forced to punt, and after a good return, the Phantoms connected on a 20-yard pass for a touchdown.
“You’re kind of just flirty with disaster when you’re giving them the ball inside your 50 constantly – two or three possessions in a row,” Molle said.
Seymour opened the second half with a promising drive, but a tipped ball on a pass attempt by quarterback Devin VerVoort resulted in an interception inside West De Pere’s 20-yard line.
Late in the game after West De Pere missed a field goal, Seymour marched into Phantoms’ territory. The Thunder had to burn a couple timeouts on defense earlier in the half and ran out of time for its comeback attempt.
“We had some chances there,” Molle said. “Thought we did a good job to put ourselves in position to give ourselves a shot at the end of the game, just couldn’t quite close it.”
VerVoort, who threw his first two interceptions of the season, was 9-for-20 passing for 115 yards. Josh Krause had a team-leading two catches for 34 yards.
Seymour’s defense played lights out in the second half, but the offense couldn’t finish a drive.
The schedule doesn’t get easier for Seymour with three regular-season games to play. Waupaca, New London and Menasha have a combined record of 12-6 with New London and Menasha already playoff eligible.
Seymour is still looking to punch its ticket to the playoff, but must win two games for a guaranteed spot. The Thunder was in a similar situation last season when it started out 0-4 to force must-win games the rest of the year before getting into the postseason.