EDGAR, Wis. — The Bangor High School football team is headed to the WIAA Division 7 state semifinals for the third year in a row.
The Cardinals moved within one victory of playing for a state championship by knocking off defending champion Edgar 16-8 in a snowy quarterfinal Friday night in Edgar, Wis.
The Wildcats won last year’s Division 7 title after beating the Cardinals, the Division 7 state champions in 2015, in the semifinals.
Bangor senior Theo Muellenberg scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 1-yard run with 6 minutes, 59 seconds left in the third quarter, and Luke Reader added the conversion run during a dominant second half.
Bangor (12-0) faces Abbotsford (10-2) — a third seed and 50-14 winner over Clear Lake on Friday — in the semifinals on Nov. 10 at Chippewa Falls, Wis.
Edgar (11-1), which allowed more points Friday night than it did in the first 11 games of the season (12), was limited to one first down after halftime as the Cardinals extended drives with big gains.
"Our defense was phenomenal," Bangor coach Rick Muellenberg said. "Especially in the second half, it was lights out.
"There were some adjustments made to make that happen, too."
The Wildcats had their only real chance to tie the game after Muellenberg’s touchdown when they advanced the ball to the Bangor 43 on their final possession.
Quarterback Karson Butt completed a pass on fourth-and-5, but the receiver was dropped for a loss with about 2:30 left.
Bangor, which had to come back from an 8-0 deficit, managed to run the clock from there.
Luke Reader, who scored Bangor’s first touchdown in the second quarter and had the conversion run on both scores, rushed for a game-high 115 yards on 30 carries.
Reader also helped get the offense rolling a little more consistently as the snow fell to the ground. He ran 17 yards on a third-and-10 snap and picked up 11 on a second-and-8 later on the same third-quarter drive.
The Cardinals didn't finish that drive with a touchdown, but they took roughly seven minutes off the clock.
Edgar’s first three second-half possessions resulted in 11 yards. Butt completed a 33-yard pass after the Wildcats stopped a Bangor drive at the Edgar 19, but it wasn’t followed up by much.
The teams traded touchdowns in the second quarter with the Wildcats striking first.
Edgar moved the ball from its own 5 to the Bangor 13 in seven plays. Quarterback Karson Butt completed a 45-yard pass to Josh Burish to give the Wildcats a first down at the Bangor 30.
Will Raatz followed that by running 17 yards for another first down before Butt carried 13 yards to the end zone. Butt completed a conversion pass to Brock Handrick for the 8-0 lead with 3:30 left in the half.
The Cardinals countered with a 60-yard drive that last eight plays and endured two Bangor penalties. Drew Johnson completed a 40-yard pass to Caleb Miedema, who caught the ball at the 20 and stayed on his feet until he reached the 7.
Reader tied the score by plowing in from the 1 on fourth down and following that with a conversion run that tied the game at 8 with 1:01 left in the half.
All of this happened after the Wildcats drove to the Bangor 1 on their opening possession before a fumble was recovered by the Cardinals.
"That was inside the 5, and it was an unbelievable forced turnover for us," said Muellenberg, who added that Adam Tallman recovered the ball. "Making a play like that early was huge because they came down the field on us."