With the WIAA football playoffs squarely on the line for both teams, Germantown downed Port Washington, 55-36, in a big North Shore Conference contest Oct. 7.

The Pirates stand at 3-3 in the North Shore and 4-4 overall, still needing one victory to claim a playoff berth. Port takes on last-place Nicolet (0-6 in the conference) at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14, at home for homecoming.

The Warhawks (3-3) are also still alive for the playoffs, and they will meet Milwaukee Lutheran (3-3) in a game that will secure a playoff berth for one of those squads.

Germantown was led against Port by quarterback Collin Sathe (177 yards passing and 114 running) and running back/linebacker Austin Mozdzen (201 yards and four touchdowns rushing).

Port struggles

Port’s defense can attest to just how good Germantown can really be. The Pirates had no answers and allowed Germantown to score a touchdown every time it touched the ball in the first half until a botched field goal attempt fell flat on the final play of the half. The Warhawks had 35 points at the break.

“You absolutely cannot play defense like that and expect to win games,” Port Washington head coach John Bunyan said. “Not against a team like that and not really against anybody.”

Port’s explosive offense kept the Pirates in the game as long as it could. Senior running back Matt Ruppel rushed for 162 yards and two touchdowns, while quarterback Tanner Orten completed 11 of 19 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 51 yards and a score.

The Pirates struck first on the game’s opening drive when Ruppel scored on a gutsy run on fourth-and-5 from the 13. It was one-upmanship from there until Germantown forced a punt in a 14-14 tie. Germantown kept the offense coming and took its first lead on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Sathe to senior tight end Jack Brzakala.

Port tied it again at 21 when sophomore Deron Spicer scored on an 11-yard touchdown run, but Germantown again took the lead with the seventh touchdown of the first half when Mozdzen scored from 6 yards out.

Then came the defining moment of the first half when Port failed to convert a fourth-and-1 at Germantown’s 13-yard line. Sathe took the Warhawks 87 yards back the other way and provided a 35-21 lead with nine seconds left in the first half.

Port fumbled the ensuing kickoff, allowing Germantown a chance to kick a field goal before half. A bobbled snap rendered that moot, but the fumble typified the Pirates’ night.

“Poor execution at several critical points in the game,” Bunyan said.

Spicer intercepts

Germantown’s lone scare of the second half came in the middle of the third quarter with a 42-28 lead and the Warhawks driving to seemingly put the dagger into the Pirates' defense. On a third-down pass, Sathe fired near the end zone, only to be intercepted by Spicer.

Germantown’s defense forced a quick three-and-out, and Mozdzen responded with his final touchdown to give the Warhawks a 49-28 lead heading into the fourth quarter.