The powerful offense of the Greendale football team was not in high gear on Friday night against Brown Deer, but the underrated Panthers defense more than made up for it.
The Panthers lost a few scoring opportunities, including a pair inside the Falcons' 5-yard line, but the defense kept explosive Brown Deer quarterback Zack Baun in check, allowing Greendale to come away with a 31-0 victory in a WIAA Division 3 playoff game.
The triumph boosted the Panthers to 11-0 on the season and sent them to the third round against Plymouth (10-1) next weekend. Plymouth, the second seed in Greendale's bracket, advanced by downing perennial power Wisconsin Lutheran on Friday night, 21-7.
The next game will be played at 7 p.m. Nov. 8 at Greendale's Steve Gavinski Field.
Shut down Baun
Heading into the Brown Deer game, Greendale faced a stiff challenge against Baun, who had accounted for more than 600 total yards in the Falcons' first-round victory over Two Rivers.
The Panthers held Baun to 98 rushing yards and 83 yards through the air.
"What a performance by our defense against arguably the best athlete that we've had around this (Woodland) Conference in a while," Greendale head coach Rob Stoltz said. "He's a pretty special player.
"We match up really well (in personnel) against that type of a player and that type of a scheme. We're pretty stout inside, but we're extremely fast on the edges as well. We close on the ball pretty quickly."
Stoltz then praised the Brown Deer coaching staff, saying, "I thought what they've done in the past couple weeks in schemes, hats off to them. I think they really play to the strength of what they have for personnel.
"That's what it is, come playoff time. You want to adjust and play to the strength of your playmakers, and I thought they did that."
The strong defensive effort was needed, since the Greendale offense was not firing on all cylinders. The Panthers' point total was their lowest of the season, just below the 34 they scored against Pewaukee, and two of those scores came in the final quarter.
They did start quickly, however, as quarterback Josh Ringelberg hit Mitchell Brees with a 50-yard touchdown pass on the opening possession. The extra point by Frankie Rutkowski made it 7-0 with about three minutes gone.
After forcing a punt, Greendale took over at its 10 and moved downfield with the help of runs of 30 and 15 yards by Angel Ramirez.
The Panthers had first down at the Brown Deer 2 but stalled, and Rutkowski kicked a 21-yard field goal to make it 10-0 after one period.
Greendale then took advantage of a short Falcons punt to the Brown Deer 40, scoring in three plays. Ringelberg found Nate Miller for a 20-yard touchdown, and it became 17-0 with 10:03 left in the first half.
The Panthers had a chance to break open the game, reaching the Falcons 3 on their next drive, but two false-start penalties and a holding call backed them up to the 26, and they turned the ball over on downs.
Brandon Cook intercepted a Baun pass in the final minute and Brees caught a 21-yard pass to the Falcons 4, but a sack of Ringelberg halted that threat as the half ended.
Brown Deer had a golden opportunity to get back into the game early in the third period as Ringelberg fumbled under a heavy rush, and Jachai Brown recovered for the Falcons at the Greendale 29.
Baun threw three incomplete passes, though, and the Falcons turned it over on downs at the 25.
Early in the fourth, the Panthers began another drive, with Jake Zywicki collecting 42 yards on the ground, and Ringelberg plowed over from the 1 for the score. The point after made it 24-0.
Baun responded with a 36-yard pass to Nyles Williams to the Greendale 26, but again, the Panthers defense answered, forcing the Falcons to turn it over on downs at the 18.
"They (the Falcons) had a couple of big plays, but then we would stiffen up and make plays (on defense)," Stoltz said.
Brown Deer tried for a consolation touchdown in the final minutes as Baun ran 31 yards to the Greendale 5, but a sack pushed the Falcons back and the game ended with Baun tackled at the 4.
Ringelberg completed 8 of 15 passes for 205 yards and three scores, while Zywicki collected 199 yards rushing and Ramirez 72 for Greendale.
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