FREEDOM — It could’ve been billed as Nathan vs. Nathan or Nate vs. Nate.
Call it what you want but Nate Jenson and Nathan Peters entered Friday’s GameTime Game of the Week as the key players for each of their respective teams and whoever would make more big plays likely would lead his team to a key win.
Peters rushed for 203 yards and two touchdowns for Freedom, while Jenson completed 15 of 23 passes for 178 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to running for another.
Jenson won the battle of the Nathans or Nates as Waupaca defeated Freedom, 27-18, in a key Eastern Valley Conference football game.
“It was really a playoff atmosphere in Game 2,” Waupaca coach John Koronkiewicz said. “I think it met expectations. I think everybody here saw a great football game.”
And they saw great performances from two special senior players trying to will their teams to victories. Peters led the state in rushing in 2012 with 2,249 yards but was limited to 92 yards on 36 carries in a Week 1 win at Winneconne.
And then Friday, Waupaca, ranked No. 2 in the FOX 11 Top 11 poll, held Peters to 26 yards on his first 13 carries, but then Peters got going. On his 14th carry he sped 46 yards for No. 8 Freedom’s first touchdown to cut the gap to 13-6.
Later, on the first play of the fourth quarter, Peters scampered 78 yards for a touchdown, cutting Waupaca’s lead to 20-18. After a slow start, Peters reminded everybody how good he really is.
“To defend Freedom and Nathan Peters is a difficult task,” Koronkiewicz said. “He doesn’t need much of a hole to turn something into a big play and he did that a couple times.”
Jenson even noted Peters’ effort, saying “Twenty-eight (Peters’ number) is a tough guy to stop, he’s a beast.”
Jenson is no slouch himself. In Week 1, he passed for 180 yards and ran for 123 in a 30-12 win over Ripon, but Friday, Freedom took away his running dimension, holding him to 51 yards on 23 carries, with his last three attempts coming on kneel downs.
So Jenson had to turn to the air and he had no problem, outside of one interception. The former wide receiver showed he could make plays in the clutch.
On Waupaca’s final scoring drive, which sealed the win, Jenson connected on a 34-yard pass on a third-and-seven play, 29-yard pass on third and 19 and 10 yards on fourth and three. He later scored on a 1-yard sneak to provide the final TD of the game.
On this drive he was 5 of 6 for 75 yards.
“Our coaching staff is always stressing to ‘keep on moving the chains, keep on moving the chains,’” Jenson said in regards to getting first downs. “You don’t want to get ahead of yourself, you don’t want to look for the big play, but if it’s there you have to hit it.”
While Peters and Jenson were the stars of the game, what also stood out was how physical the game was. Freedom is known to take it to everybody it plays and Friday was no different. Peters even might’ve delivered the most hits while running the ball.
Waupaca had to meet the challenge to win and it did.
“If you were watching the game I was watching, it was a very physical contest,” Koronkiewicz said. “Both teams for a second game of the season were extremely physical upfront. There were great hits on offense and defense.”
“I knew it would be physical, but didn’t know it was going to be that physical,” Jenson said. “You have to give them credit, they give it up every play.”
After reaching the Division 3 state title game a year ago but losing key players like Sam Menzies and Beau Ash to graduation, there might’ve been a little question as to how good Waupaca would be this season.
Through two weeks, behind Jenson, the Comets look like they will make a serious run at defending their EVC title. And a win at Freedom, which is viewed as a conference title contender, will only feed the team’s confidence level.
The Comets knew this was a big win for conference-title purposes.
“It’s huge; we knew Freedom’s a great team,” Jenson said. “We stopped them in the first half, but they made some plays. I was pretty happy with how we played. We stepped up in the fourth quarter.
“It’s huge. Sometimes conference championship are won and lost in the second week.”
Koronkiewicz didn’t want to say during the week this was a big game, but after the game he admitted it was.
Said Koronkiewicz: “This was a big game.”
And it took big plays to win this game, and Jenson was there to deliver.
- Notes: Jenson on winning his second game at QB: “It’s getting more and more comfortable with every win I get.” … Peters’ two scoring runs covered 124 yards and his other 22 attempts covered 79 yards. … Freedon’s third TD was scored on a 20-yard pass from Andrew Connelly to Eric Schommer. … Waupaca hosts Winneconne in Week 3, while Freedom plays at Berlin.
- Game ball: Jenson, who made big plays through the air and accounted for all of Waupaca's TDs.
- Numbers game: 6 TD passes Jenson has in two games.
(2) WAUPACA 27, (8) FREEDOM
Waupaca…0 13 0 14 — 27
Freedom….0 6 6 6 — 18
WAU – Nathan Nelson 14 pass from Nate Jenson (Nelson kick)
WAU – Bryce Neidert 12 pass from Jenson (kick blocked)
FRE – Nathan Peters 46 run (run failed)
FRE – Eric Schommer 20 pass from Andrew Connelly (run failed)
WAU – Zander Neuville 26 pass from Jenson (Nelson kick).
FRE – Peters 78 run (pass failed)
WAU – Jenson 1 run (Nelson kick)
- Records: Waupaca 2-0; Freedom 2-0.
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
Two Oshkosh North players had to be taken off the field in ambulances after colliding in the Division 2 championship game Friday, but their injuries apparently are not as serious as first thought.
Despite all its dominance this season Shiocton entered Thursday's Division 6 state title football game with a healthy respect for Darlington.
Gov. Scott Walker still won't say whether he will sign a bill making it harder to force public schools to drop American Indian nicknames.