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Catholic Memorial completes historic comeback to top West De Pere for Division 3 championship

11/16/2018, 1:30pm CST
By Travis Wilson

Catholic Memorial quarterback Luke Fox had a big game to help the Crusaders to the D3 title

Catholic Memorial could not get out of its own way for the first 28 minutes of the Division 3 state football championship game against West De Pere, fumbling three times in the first half and throwing an interception on the first play of the second half as the Phantoms capitalized for a 24-0 lead.

What seemed insurmountable quickly became history, as the Crusaders scored 37 straight points over the game's final 20 minutes for an improbable 37-24 victory.

West De Pere wasted no time in making a statement right out of the gates, taking the opening kickoff and marching 81 yards in 12 plays as Josh Blount scored on a one-yard plunge on fourth and goal. 

Catholic Memorial would cough the ball up twice in the first quarter, the second turned into another West De Pere score on the first play of the second quarter. 

The Crusaders finally put some positive plays together on their next drive, but a fumbled snap inside the West De Pere three-yard line killed a potential scoring drive. 

West De Pere would tack on a short field goal on the final play of the half to go up 17-0 at the break, as the Phantoms out-gained Catholic Memorial 253-124.

It was a disastrous start to the second half for Catholic Memorial, as Luke Fox threw an interception to Ben Pawlak on the first play of the drive, which was returned inside the ten. West De Pere scored three plays later to take what appeared to be a commanding 24-0 lead.

Catholic Memorial had other plans, scoring just over three minutes later when Luke Fox hit Cole Dakovich. The two-point conversion kept it a two-score game. After forcing a three-and out, the Crusaders got on the board quickly again when Fox hit Alex Oechsner for a big play and then connected with Joe Sikma on the two-point conversion. Suddenly, the span of seven minutes of game time, it was a one-score contest.

Catholic Memorial standout sophomore defensive lineman J.C. Latham forced a fumble on the next West De Pere possession, and Tate Kopulos scored from 15 yards out. Fox hit Kopulos for the conversion and the game was tied.

The Crusaders weren't done yet, forcing a three and out, then taking the lead when Fox went 70 yards for a touchdown. A few minutes later, Joe Oechsner intercepted an errant Josh Blount pass and returned it for a touchdown. While the extra point clanked off the upright, the damage was done and the outcome was decided.

It is the third WIAA state title for Catholic Memorial, who also won it all in 2012 and 2016. Luke Fox completed 19-of-29 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns, adding 84 yards and a score on the ground. Alex Oechsner had six catches for 105 yards and a touchdown, while Tate Kopulos rushed for 112 yards and a score. Luke Hubley recorded 15 tackles, including four for loss and a sack, while Cole Dakovich added ten tackles. 

Josh Blount racked up 241 yards of offense for West De Pere, 154 through the air and 87 on the ground.

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