Peshtigo Bulldog running back Steve Strojny follows Jordan Berth for big yardage in the second half at Bulldog Stadium Friday night. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Peshtigo Bulldog running back Steve Strojny follows Jordan Berth for big yardage in the second half at Bulldog Stadium Friday night. EagleHerald/Jody Korch
PESHTIGO - Kiel gave the Peshtigo football team all it wanted Friday night, and that is just fine with the Bulldog coaching staff.

Aside from gaining another gray hair or two when the game got dicey in the fourth quarter, it was all good for Bulldog head coach Sam Komp. His team beat Kiel 34-18 at Bulldog Field.

"It's a great, great test for us," Komp said. "We couldn't have played a better team first game. I think we can play with most of the people on our schedule based on how we played tonight."

A long punt return by Kiel's Aaron Field, with a late hit tacked on, moved the ball to the Peshtigo 13-yard line with 11:38 left. Two plays later, quarterback Jack Meunier hit Jesus Sandoval with a 12-yard touchdown pass.

The Raiders went for two and the tie, but the snap was fumbled and linebacker Jake Romenesko smothered Meunier to preserve a 20-18 Bulldog lead.

With more than six minutes remaining, the Raiders tried an ill-advised fake punt on fourth-and-14. Steve Strojny and Zack Neumann smothered the ballcarrier at the Kiel 25-yard line. That set up Strojny's 18-yard TD run with 5:32 remaining.

"We had a kid come off the bench - Steven Strojny - who played a helluva second half for us," Komp said.

The kick was wide left, so Kiel still had life. But three plays later, a receiver slipped and Jake Veness had a 40-yard interception return.

Peshtigo fumbled the ball away, but Romenesko scored on a 55-yard

The Bulldogs appeared on their way to a rout when they ran 20 of the 23 first-quarter plays. Quarterback Dakota Keller capped a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive by hitting Romenesko perfectly in stride for a 36-yard TD pass. Jake Jagielski's extra point gave Peshtigo a 7-0 lead with 9:12 in the first quarter.

Gunner Kinney picked off a batted pass to set up Peshtigo's second score, a 9-yard pass from Keller to Veness with 5:21 in the half. Keller hit Levi Sanborn with a 45-yard pass on third-and-25.
"Keller stepped up physically," according to Komp. "He threw the ball well, but he also ran the ball and made no mistakes."

Kiel battled back with a 59-yard scoring drive, capped by Field's 17-yard TD run with 2:48 in the half. Brandon Bonde's 60-yard interception return gave the Raiders another scoring chance before the half, but the drive ended at the 11-yard line on an incompletion.

After the second-half kickoff, Kiel picked up where it left off. Field scored on a 3-yard run to cap a 64-yard drive. The conversion run attempt failed, so Peshtigo led 14-12.

Peshtigo answered with a six-play, 62-yard scoring drive. Strojny scored on a 5-yard run. The extra point boot was blocked.

Senior lineman Jordan Berth raised havoc late in the game with a hard hit on the quarterback, followed by a sack. He dominated the final seven or eight minutes, Komp said.

"I think we beat a good football team," Komp said. "And, I was proud of the fact that there probably were a couple times when we could've cashed it in. We somehow managed to hang in there."

Peshtigo 34, Kiel 18

First quarter

P - Jake Romenesko 36-yard pass from Dakota Keller (Jake Jagielski kick), 9:12

Second quarter

P - Jake Veness 9-yard pass from Keller (Jagielski kick), 5:21
K - Aaron Field 18-yard run (kick failed), 2:48

Third quarter

K - Field 2-yard run (run failed), 10:09
P - Steve Strojny 4-yard run (Kick failed), 7:54
K - Field 2-yard run (run failed), 10:09

Fourth quarter

K - Jesus Sandoval 13-yard pass from Meunier (run failed), 11:31
P - Strojny 18-yard run (kick blocked), 5:32
P - Romenesko 60-yard interception return (Zack Neumann pass from Keller), :42

RUSHING (Peshtigo): Dakota Keller 14-85, Strojny 11-48, Trevor Igl 10-34, Levi Sanborn 3-20; (Kiel): Field 20-160, Jack Meunier 13-30

PASSING (Peshtigo): Keller 10-19-167; (Kiel): Meunier 8-20-94

RECEIVING (Peshtigo): Romenesko 3-79, Sanborn 4-55, Veness 3-33; (Kiel): Sandoval 3-30