Friday Night Blitz Game of the Week: Kimberly vs. Fond du Lac

OSHKOSH, Wis. - Victory was sweet Friday night for the Kimberly Papermakers.

Avenging their only loss of the season, Coach Steve Jones and the Papermakers went for two in overtime to claim the Level 4 playoff victory over the Cardinals, 22-21.

Kimberly heads to its sixth-straight Division 1 state title game.

"It just means a lot that we get to be together another week, another chance to get down to Camp Randall and that's a big thing," said Jones. "I keep telling our kids, the wins are great, the trophies will collect dust, but the memories we collect like tonight, they'll last forever."

"Since Week 1, we've all been just waiting for this moment, waiting for this time to play them again," said Makers quarterback Cody Staerkel. "And now that we got them, I can't explain it. It just feels so good."

The five-time defending state champions have lost just once in the last 82 games -- when Fond du Lac upset Kimberly on a last-second field goal Week 1. 

A chilly night at Titan Stadium meant it took awhile to get the offense thawed out, but Kimberly broke through on a slant pass from Staerkel to Connor Wnek for a 7-0 advantage.

But on the very next drive, Fond Du Lac returned serve, pounding the ground with Eben Sauer, who tied the game 7-7 going into halftime.

After the break, Fond du Lac Coach Steve Jorgensen broke out the trick book with a flea-flicker on third and 24. Sauer found a wide-open Moses Riehl to give the Cardinals a new chance, leading to Sauer's second rushing touchdown of the game. Fondy would take a 14-7 lead.

Then, Kimberly's Will Fischer tied the game at 14-14 with a 22-yard rushing score.

Fitting that the snow came down as this game went into overtime. Fondy had the first possession, and Sauer scored his third touchdown of the game.

But on fourth and long with the Makers' season on the line, Staerkel connected with Wnek for a first down and then some inside the three yardline.

Fisher dove into the end zone for a 21-20 deficit, but instead of tying it with an extra point, Jones went to 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end Mitch Bartol for two, winning the game outright.

Kimberly advances to the Division 1 state championship game to face Muskego at 4 pm. on Friday.

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