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Big plays were made by both the Whitefish Bay and Cedarburg football teams in the North Shore Conference opener on Sept. 2.

The difference is that the Blue Dukes simply made more of them in posting a 35-3 triumph over the Bulldogs at Lubar Stadium.

Offensively, the Dukes came up with a beautiful 46-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Cade Garcia to wide receiver Maurice Lee in the first period and a 61-yard sideline sprint for a score by Michael Kirkendoll in the third quarter.

On defense, they kept shutting down Cedarburg, especially in the second half, helped by a pair of interceptions by Kirkendoll.

"I can't say enough about our defense," said Bay coach Jake Wolter, whose team improved to 2-1. "We had a number of three-and-outs, or one first down and out, in that second half."

Cedarburg coach Brian Leair, whose squad fell to an uncharacteristic 0-3 on the season, said the Bulldogs actually met their goals, to a point.

"It felt like the whole night, we were able to move the ball," Leair said. "We definitely were doing that, but we just didn't close the deal."

Garcia hits Lee

Bay opened the contest with Garcia facing a 3rd-and-10 at the Cedarburg 46 and finding Lee open down the middle. Lee caught the ball at about the 5-yard line and went in for the score. Garcia also kicked the point after to put Bay up, 7-0, with 9 minutes, 26 seconds left in the first.

Cedarburg answered with a grinding 19-play, 10-minute drive from its 15-yard line to the Bay 10. Patrick Hoffman was the workhorse on that march, carrying the ball 11 times for 45 yards.

The drive stalled, though, and the Bulldogs were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal from Taylor Kuck to make it 7-3 with 10:58 left in the half. Leair said the opening drive fit the Bulldogs' plans perfectly.

"To win this game, we really needed to possess the ball, and we did that," he said. "We did exactly what we needed. To win this game, that was going to have to be the game plan, to possess it, work the clock. It was working quite nicely for a while there."

Wolter said holding Cedarburg to a field goal after such a long drive was a victory for his team.

"That was huge," he said. "We kept the lead there, and then we could put the pressure on with our offense again."

Bay did just that, moving 65 yards in 10 plays on its next drive. Garcia hit Kirkendoll for 12 yards and Bo Bassindale for 14 yards; then Bassindale covered the final 9 yards for the score. Garcia's kick made it 14-3 with 6:32 remaining in the half.

Cedarburg got things moving again as quarterback Jack Meyer found Clayton Van Tassel for 22 yards on the sideline and Hoffman for 16 yards. The Bulldogs reached the Bay 34 before turning the ball over on downs.

The Dukes moved to the Cedarburg 32 in the final minute, but defensive back Mitchell Stroebel intercepted Garcia in the end zone with 8 seconds left.

"(The interception) was a huge play," Leair said. "That (14-3) was more than within striking distance."

Defense tightens

The Bay defense tightened, though, holding Cedarburg on its first two possessions of the second half. Kirkendoll then gave the Blue Dukes some breathing room when he rambled 61 yards around the corner and down the left sideline for a score. Garcia's kick made it 21-3.

The Bulldogs then had a fumbled snap, with Bay recovering at the Cedarburg 39 and scoring three plays later when Garcia connected with Alex Anthony on a 13-yard score.

Kirkendoll then made two interceptions, including one in the end zone, to end two Cedarburg chances. After the second one, Bassindale tallied from 6 yards out as Bay took a 35-3 lead.

Garcia finished 11 of 20 on the night for 157 yards and two scores, earning the praise of Wolter.

"He's got total control (of the offense)," the coach said. "He comes to the sideline with great suggestions of what he sees, what he likes. Especially for a third-game starter, that's pretty impressive."

For Cedarburg, Meyer completed 11 of 22 passes for 164 yards, but the Bulldogs just didn't make enough plays at key times.

"We've typically gotten those types of things," Leair said, "but we just didn't get it done tonight. You can't have the mistakes in a varsity football game that we had, and when those plays are there to be had, you have to make them."

Wolter thinks his team is on the right track.

"We're getting there," he said. "We definitely have a lot of work to do, some play calling issues on my end. We're working at it as a coaching staff, too."

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