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Pepin running back Nathan Stein is thrown out of bounds by an Elmwood defender during the first quarter Thursday night at Pepin High School.

Pax tips the Lakers

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PEPIN -- Steve Pax scored all four Elmwood touchdowns and made a key interception to led to his team to a 28-21 win over the Lakers.

Pepin had three interceptions and one fumble. The first came on Pepin's first drive, which was stopped at the Elmwood 20-yard line.

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The second came with 2:08 to go in the fourth quarter as Pax snagged a Joe Marcks pass out of the air with one hand.

He returned it deep into Lakers' territory and scored on the ensuing possession.

Pepin had 25 seconds and 95 yards to go to tie the score or take the lead on its final drive. The Lakers made it to the their 43-yard line after Marcks hooked up with wide receiver Travis Heit for 38 yards. But Elmwood's E.J. Wolske ended Pepin's last chance with an interception.

"We stopped ourselves more often than not," Pepin head coach Mike Olson said. "Whether it was turnovers or having a drive stall because of a missed block here or a missed assignment there, especially in the second half."

The high scoring game many figured upon didn't quite materialize as both defenses made adjustments in the second half after both offenses moved at will in the first. Pepin's first touchdown came on a Shaughn Meixner 2-yard run to tie the score at 7. Pepin tied the game again in the second quarter after a 7-yard run set up by a key third-down conversion pass between Marcks and Nathan Stein for 37 yards.

In the fourth quarter, Pepin took its only lead 21-14 when Meixner scored on a 2-yard run.

But Elmwood retook the lead on the very next drive when Pax scored on a 35-yard touchdown run. Raider quarterback Brian Tolonen ran in the two-point conversion and the visitors were ahead 22-21.

Pax also had touchdown runs of 2 and 8 yards. With several players sidelined due to injury, including Stein who aggravated a knee injury that kept him out much of the second half, the Lakers were vulnerable to a big playmaker like Pax.

"You need your fast players out there and your athletes to make sure he doesn't break a big one," Olson said. "Unfortunately, we were shorthanded."

Elmwood finishes the regular season as SLC runner-up with a 6-1 record, 7-2 overall. Pepin, will head into the playoffs with a 6-3 overall record, 5-2 in the conference to finish in third place. WIAA playoff pairings will be announced Friday afternoon.

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Sean Scallon
Sean Scallon has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the Pierce County Herald newspaper in Ellsworth since 1998. He holds a bachelors degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's also worked at newspapers in Glenwood City, Wisconsin; Marion, Illinois and Shawano, Wisconsin. Sean also works as a sports reporter for other newspapers and websites in RiverTown Multimedia from River Falls to Hudson to New Richmond and Red Wing.
(715) 273-4334
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